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.