How to establish healthy boundaries and avoid burnout as an entrepreneur
I’m not entirely sure where my entrepreneurial streak came from, but I can certainly tell you where my work habits and resourcefulness did.
I’m 21 months into figuring out what I want my business and, more importantly, my life to look like. And it has been a challenging trail to trek.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m still a newbie when it comes to being an entrepreneur. I dabbled as a freelancer at the beck and call of my clients for years before transitioning into building a business in April of 2021 when I first got the idea for Cedar June.
I think many of our beliefs, boundaries, and behaviors regarding work have to do with how we were raised and how our parents approached their careers and work
I have always and will always take pride in where and what I come from and how hard those that came before me worked so that I could have the opportunity to do something as crazy as starting a business. But when it came time to start that business (or just working in general, honestly), I struggled to know where to draw the line between wearing my hard worker badge and family crest like a badge of honor and burning myself out in the process.
Some of the not-so-great behaviors I picked up from others In my life at an early age that transferred into the way I began running my business included:
In the early days of building my brand, I struggled with burnout. Resentment began to build not only in my business but also in my home – where my business lived in the spare bedroom (and everywhere else, for that matter).
Throw in managing your income, balancing your work and personal life – and the day-to-day stresses of being a human – and before you know it, that thing you really love (your business) can become a nightmare. As I near my second year in business, finding ways to set better boundaries, manage my energy, and continue to do what I love has become my main focus.
You know what they say, time is money. The more intentional you can be with how you spend your time, the more productive, creative, and fulfilled you can be.
Here are my top three tips on how to set boundaries around your time to learn to work more intentionally and plan to create time for Brand Building Activities.
Tip #1 Know your Rhythm
One of the best and most desirable parts of being an entrepreneur is that you can control your schedule. But many of us can fall into letting our clients control when and how we work. Especially when you start talking time zones and the “always open” world of online business. The first step to setting boundaries in your business is understanding your energy regarding work. This is the key to taking control of your time.
Tip #2 Establish Separation
Once you have an idea of your rhythm, it’s time to separate your time spent working into two categories.
Create a batch day system that defines the days you see and work on client or customer-related tasks and the days you will focus on your own Brand Building Activities. For Example
Tip #2 Creating Business hours and a hard stop
Where and when you communicate with your clients can significantly impact your quality of life as a self-employed entrepreneur (and I am telling you that from experience).
I genuinely love what I do. I love to work, and I love my clients. And sometimes, if I have the house to myself and I’m deep in a project, I will keep working and working and working. It takes a conscious effort to stop working and call it quits for the night. That means more than just closing the door to my office and shutting down my computer. It also means
The clearer you can articulate your boundaries with clients, the better relationships you will build. Find ways to make your boundaries a part of the conversation and narrative from the start. Include your office hours and how and when you will communicate in your proposals, onboarding materials, and contracts. You can even spell this out on your website’s contact page and forms. Communicate with prospective clients about when to expect to hear back from you, and hold yourself to that. Once you set your boundaries, hold yourself accountable to them. That means only responding to communication within your business hours which can be easier said than done. It will help prospective clients to see you as a professional, take you seriously, and respect your boundaries.
When I transitioned from freelance to founder, I started building my brand with Honey Book and never looked back. What cant Honey Book do? This platform helps you to create a Branded and automated client experience, from the lead form to the contract, invoice- and everything in between. Using a platform like honey book makes managing the stickier parts of managing your business a little less personal and a little more legitimate.
Service Providers that have an in-person or virtual 1:1 service like…
Social Media Managers
Create scheduling links (based on availability) – so clients can book with you and pay you. This saves you time and energy (two of your most valuable resources) by cutting out the back-and-forth texting and emailing. Setting up your links is simple and offers lots of customizations for setting boundaries and creating a co-creative and respectful narrative from the start.
Service Providers selling a one-off call
Create client workspaces that encourage creativity and collaboration in Notion (at no cost to your client). Communicate project timelines, progress, and tasks all in one place. This is also great for getting quick feedback, asking questions, making edits, and more. I encourage my clients to use Notion for business and project-related communication instead of texting me – or emailing for longer asks.
Coaches or service providers working with clients on in-depth projects or extended timelines.
People who want to build and manage a team.
Setting boundaries pays off when it comes to not only your mental health but also your business. Some of my favorite business-minded books on managing your energy, like Rest by Alex Soojung Kim-Payne and Do Less by Kate Northrup, dig into why the less you work, the more impact you can make. Setting boundaries in your business saves you time, helps you to manage your workload, protects your productivity, and increases your revenue.
Failing to set boundaries around your time, communication, and client relationships can create resentment in and around your business. Whether it be just feeling stressed out by your business, your partner is stressed out by your non-existent work hours, managing stressful client relationships 👆🏻 or all of the above.
Learning to set boundaries is an essential step In learning how to be your own boss. It pays off when clients take you more seriously, respects your boundaries, and you can build lasting relationships with them. Setting boundaries also saves you time and allows you to focus on Brand Building Activities like Marketing, Creating Content, and Developing New Offers – resources or services.