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Why Boundaries Are So Important For Entrepreneurs (And How To Have More Of Them)

By News Creatives Authors , in Small Business , at August 23, 2021

Brighid Gannon is co-founder of Lavender and an award-winning nurse entrepreneur known for building innovative healthcare businesses.

When you start a business, the stakes are innately higher and more personal. In many cases, it’s mission-based and an extension of yourself. When an employee quits or a big client walks away, it’s hard not to take it personally. Starting a new business also means taking a huge risk. As an entrepreneur, lines between home and work get blurred because there is no 9-to-5 workday. Your new business can become engrossing and it’s easy for boundaries to get hazy.

It’s important as you wade into the waters of a new business to remember that creating — and maintaining — boundaries is crucial to your success.  

So, what is a boundary? Personal boundaries are our defined lines in terms of our comfort around others. It’s important to communicate these needs in everyday life and within our relationships, but also in the workplace. 

People with poor boundaries often feel exhausted, have trouble making decisions, feel guilty and anxious, and are irritable. It can lead to chaotic teams and unmanageable work environments. Entrepreneurs are infamous for having poor boundaries because we’re always pushing ourselves to the limit and our work is often mission-driven. Boundaries help give us the space and energy we need to show up as our very best. 

Trouble and disorder show up when boundaries aren’t communicated. It can be difficult, but to stay healthy, it’s worth the effort. Discussion of boundaries isn’t very common in the workplace and it’s not unusual for people to assume, oftentimes incorrectly, what yours are. As the leader of your new business, it falls on your shoulders to create an environment that encourages naming and validating boundaries. 

Establish your core values.

The first step is to identify your core values and what you will and will not tolerate. The best boundaries are aligned with your values. If being home in time for dinner with your family every night is important to you, say so! And then act accordingly. Saying it and not following through means you’re not honoring your values and doesn’t set the best example for your team.

Be clear and transparent.

Share when you’ll be available for phone calls and emails and stick to it. If you haven’t done this already and it’s new to the team, it’s helpful to provide some context. “I recognize that I’m starting to get a bit burnt out and need more time outside of work, so I will not be available.” Then silence notifications! You should suggest the same boundaries with staff so they get the restorative time outside of work. 

Prepare for pushback and confusion.

There will likely be some pushback initially when you start practicing boundaries. Having a boss overtly state their needs may surprise some. But if you don’t state your boundaries, how can you expect people to know them? It’s normal to feel anxious and guilty during this time, but you can tolerate it and it will pass. To help tolerate this transition, say a boundary-focused affirmation out loud to help you tolerate the uncomfortable feelings that come up during boundary setting: “I am honoring myself and I am honoring my boundaries.”  

Get used to saying, and meaning, ‘no.’

You always have the right to say no. Learn all the different ways to respectfully say no: “I am honored you thought of me, but unfortunately I will have to pass at this time.” Or, “I can understand where you are coming from, but I am not comfortable with this.” A good pulse check is to ask yourself: When was the last time you said no to something? If you can’t even remember, then you need to work on boundary setting. Remember to trust yourself. If you’re feeling uncomfortable or something doesn’t feel right, trust your intuition and know you can always pause and take a step back. Practice saying, “I need time to think about this. Let me get back to you.”

Entrepreneurs who set boundaries and encourage their team members to do so too will foster a happier and more healthy work environment. When everyone is on the same page, you’ll breed safety, comfort, and camaraderie in the office — something that’s vital in a new business. 


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