One of the many things I discovered when on my recent private retreat with my mentor coach Kendall Summerhawk was that I sometimes still have a tendency to bend in situations where I shouldn’t. Not actually bend-over backwards, but enough that I end up not feeling good about the situation. I’ve actually strengthened this boundary quite a bit in recent years, but as always, I’ve been tested on that a few times lately, so I wanted to share some of the ways I’ve strengthened this boundary within the way I run my business so you can do the same.
Here are 4 ways that you can gracefully set boundaries in your business:
1. Have a policy page
For every product, program or service you offer, someone is going to ask you to do something different for them. It could be to offer it in a different format, at a different time or day, with a payment plan option, or dozens of other scenarios than I can’t possibly cover here. As a general rule of thumb, don’t accommodate. Yes, there will be times when you make a different decision, but most of the time, stick to the parameters you created in the first place. You can’t please everyone, and every time you accommodate someone, you a) typically un-accommodate someone else who was just fine with the way your offer stood in the first place, and b) attract more people who will ask you to bend things for them in the future.
What do you do with the requests you get? Create a policy page from each and every decision you’ve made on how you will or will not run your business. Then when the next person makes a similar request, you simply send them to that page that explains clearly what your policy is, and that the policy applies to everyone. It takes the edge of it feeling like saying ‘no’ was a personal decision as much as it makes it super-simple for your team to handle these requests.
2. Be fair to ALL your clients
Being fair to all my clients is one value that I hold that makes it easy for me to be clear about the boundaries I have in place in my business. If you remember that it’s NOT that you aren’t willing or don’t want to be accommodating, but that it simply wouldn’t be fair to the rest of your clients and customers by doing so, it makes it much easier to say no graciously, and it keeps your integrity intact.
3. Have a buffer
Having someone on my team who manages these requests is imperative. First, as the business owner and leader of my company, it’s not the best use of my unique brilliance to be dealing with these requests personally. Second, my team is quite capable of knowing when a request may require my attention, and I trust them to let me know. And third, it makes saying ‘no’ less personal and much more graceful and respectful to the person making the request when they get an answer from my team instead of from me.
4. Be willing to let go
Ok, this is the one that’s popped up more than once the last month or so and got me thinking about writing this article. I still struggle with a tendency to over-explain. I like to craft just the right words to make sure someone understands my decision about something. I’ve realized that in doing so I’ve wasted a lot of time, energy and emotion. So I stopped doing that for the most part. Recently, I found myself back in that loop again, and when I realized how much of my team’s time I was wasting, it bopped me over the head. I instantly went back to my short-but-sweet way of responding.
Here’s the thing: there’s always going to be a tiny percentage of people who want you to customize and accommodate them. But let them go play somewhere else. Because what happens when you stick to your guns is that you honor your value, your time, and your self-respect. You attract more clients and customers who are ideal and who are respectful of you and your team as well, and your business runs more smoothly and more joyfully.
As I’m wrapping up a slew of private retreats with my clients this month, it’s become clear that it’s time for me to get focused on practicing what I’ve been preaching – or more specifically, to put myself through the same intense process and plan that I take my clients through.
This thought popped into my head several times during the retreats, but really came to the forefront of my thinking over the past week or so, as I have been making some very big decisions in my business that’s going to majorly shift things going forward.
So, here is what I’ve noticed that’s going on with me in my business that I’m hoping will shed some light for you as well:
Problem: Not taking action on a particular task.
If you’re finding yourself low on energy around moving forward on a certain project or idea, it pays to take a look inside for the reason why.
As I learned from Andrea Lee, my private coach for nearly three years, everything is energy. And when I’m stuck – *especially* when I know what to do next – there’s something wrong inside that’s blocking forward movement. Because, after all, I am all about taking action.
Solution: Ask yourself…
1. What is one thing I coach my own clients on that I can apply to myself?
2. What is one way I show others how to operate their business that I can apply to my own?
3. What is one method I teach that I can implement more fully in my own business.
In other words, how can I practice what I preach more thoroughly?
The answers to these simple questions are the key to getting unstuck and moving forward.
Take it to the next level…
Complete the following sentence 30 times:
“The results my clients get from working with me are_______________.
And don’t skimp – come up with 30 answers. If you have trouble getting more specific, ask your current and past clients to help you fill in the blank.
What are the benefits to doing this exercise?
Many, but for the purposes of this conversation, the value is in bringing forth the things that are the most beneficial for you to make sure you’re focusing on in moving your business forward – both for yourself and for your clients.
So take your answers and turn them around to apply them to your own business!
One of the things I’ve been working on for several years is cleaning up my money issues. That includes everything from thinking I have to work really hard to make a lot of money, to taking care of old debt, to having a plan for paying down new debt, to plugging even the slightest money leak.
The truth for me is that I tend to not pay attention to my money as much as I should, so inevitably something happens where money MAKES me pay attention. It’s not usually a positive experience. 😉
I’ve made some big strides in this area, and along the way I discovered that once I started really paying attention to my money, it started showing up a lot more in a lot more positive ways.
Here are 4 tips that have helped me immensely to turn on the flow of money into my business and my life that I know can help you too.
TIP 1. Keep a daily tracking sheet of what comes in…
I learned this direct from my million-dollar mentor Kendall SummerHawk. I track every penny that comes in on one simple sheet each day. When I first started doing this, I had days where I didn’t have any money coming in, but within just one month, it’s rare if there’s even one day that doesn’t have some sum attached to it.
TIP 2. Have a purpose for each income stream
I’ve always done this without really thinking about it, but once I started getting crystal clear about the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ for each and every one of my income streams, they turned from trickles to rivers.
TIP 3. Take care of any outstanding money issues
Just yesterday I sat down with files and phone numbers in hand to cancel some memberships I wasn’t utilizing, get a refund on an erroneous charge to my bank account, and asked my assistant to send reminders for two overdue invoices. In that day’s mail, I received checks totally almost $3000. See, money likes being paid attention to.
TIP 4. Find and plug those money leaks
In every business, there are places where money is leaking out. It could be the webmaster who charges by the hour and takes too long to complete a task. It could be a monthly subscription that you either don’t utilize at all or that you aren’t clear on its return on investment to be sure it’s actually a good one to make. It could be paying monthly for a service you use all year in your business, and that you could save 10% on if you chose the annual payment plan instead.
When you start to pay attention to your money, it will immediately open up the flow of it into your business and your life.
Which one of these tips are you going to start doing today? I’d love to know, so leave your commitment in the comments below.
(c) 2009 Alicia Forest
About the author: Alicia M Forest, MBA, 6-Figure Business Breakthrough Mentor, teaches self-employed professionals how to attract more clients, create profit-making products and services, make more sales, and ultimately live the life they desire and deserve. For FREE tips on how to create wild abundance in your business, visit http://www.ClientAbundance.com
We’re celebrating Independence Day here in the US – and Chloe and I began the day sitting on the bow of our sailboat, watching to wave to her grandparents and family friends as they went by in their boat on the way to an early breakfast in town.
As Chloe and I waited, she mentioned that she wished when we left our cottage for the summer that we could go back to our house in NY because she missed it. I told her it was ok to miss it, that I miss it too, but that I knew she’d be happy in her new home too.
And then I shared with her that her former school in NY was currently without a home as they had lost the lease on the property they’d had for 10 years (through no fault of their own). I was telling her that we were looking into whether or not we could rent our home to her school while they looked for another property or built their own. Knowing that her home might be filled with her favorite teacher and her friends made her feel a lot better about leaving it, and yet I know she’s still a little sad.
And so am I. It was a good home to us for almost 9 years. It’s where James and I became husband and wife, where we brought Chloe & Jack home to after they were born. I have so many memories to treasure from that home, from our chapter there, and yet…
I know the decision to move is the right one. And every day I get another sign that it is.
This whole process has been about having a desire (move home), making a decision (we’re moving in June 2010), and then doing something to make it come about, while leaving the details and the exact ‘how’ up to the Universe. It’s been another leap of faith for me – maybe even more so for James.
But the indisputable fact is that if I didn’t have the successful business I do, with the flexibility and freedom (have laptop, can travel, or in this case, move) and financial stability and peace of mind that consistent cash flow brings, I wouldn’t be writing this from the dock and we wouldn’t have been able to make this move.
And that’s what I was sharing with her, the freedom that being an entrepreneur can bring… and on this day of independence, I am grateful that I live in a country that allows me this kind of opportunity, that I have a husband who supports me every step of the way, and that I can model for both my kids this kind of lifestyle as an option.
Freedom for me means doing what you most want to do when you most want to do it with the people who you most want to do it with…
What does it mean for you? I’d love to know your thoughts – please share them below…