10 Professional Boundaries You Need to Set to Be Successful in Business

At some time or another, we all struggle with the question, “Should I say ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”, and this question can lead to high levels of stress or peace; contingent on your timeliness.  It can be very tough in personal situations to use your internal compass to guide you, and when you add money and business into relationships, it can make it even more complicated.

Added onto it all, if you have a more passive personality, but you’re dealing with aggressives (whether the aggressive person is your child, your spouse, or your client), it can make it even more of a challenge to be assertive, place boundaries, reinforce your boundaries, and be a victor in tough circumstances.

3 Boundary Examples…

To explain what I mean, I want to share 3 tough situations that are trying on professional boundaries…

professional boundariesExample #1: Attachment Parenting

I’ve seen parents who have the desire to be present and available for their kids.  Their desire is good, but when they struggle financially, or analyze their life plan, they realize in order to accomplish their professional goals, they may have to re-align their parenting boundaries.

Example #2: Work and Marriage

It’s very common for entrepreneurs to struggle with being sensitive to the needs of their businesses and their spouses.  They might start the business desperately needing customers, so they work beyond “normal business hours”, they allow customers, employees, and vendors to call them whenever they want, and they miss out on many important activities of their spouses because they’re too laser-focused on their business growth.

Contrarily, if work and marriage is off balance in the other direction, they could be spending too much time on romance and too little time working, then they fall into financial difficulty as a result.

Example #3: The Deal or Freebie

Another common boundary struggle is deciding when to offer freebies or charitable business offers versus when to be firm assertive and laser focused on a sale price.  Sometimes, entrepreneurs may target the wrong audience and be faced with many people who want “deals” or freebies similar to what I discussed when I talked about difficult personalities in my previous post.  While most entrepreneurs will face customers who have price over value buying motives, it’s always best when you’re client base is monopolized by value over price-focused customers.

The Top 10 Professional Boundaries to be Successful in Business

While many people underestimate the discipline and requisite of boundaries, these top 10 professional boundaries are CRUCIAL to climbing into the highest echelons of success…

1. Time Management Boundaries

professional boundariesThere are so many distractions that can come up in business!  You may have calls, emails, people who pop up unexpectedly, issues in your family, personal crises, and the list can go on and on.  As an entrepreneur, you have to be disciplined and dedicated to compartmentalizing distractions and slotting them into segments of your day.

For example, you may find that in order to maximize your productivity, you need childcare during the day, so you schedule within your day that you’ll give undivided attention to your family during specified times in return.  There are many tough choices you’ll have to make in order to prioritize your business, but if you have a vision and your confident of your business purpose, the sacrifices will pay off.

For help with prioritization, you should check out my very popular article on using a Time Management Chart.

2. Parenting Boundaries

While they may strongly differ, everyone has personal values.  Some people value having one parent as a stay-home, and others value financial well-being, and believe both parents should be out in the corporate world.  Everyone is different.  Most professionals struggle at some point with parenting boundaries.

professional boundariesIt may come up when you have a child that’s sick and you want to be present, or you may struggle simply to separate from your child every day.  Making the boundary between your children and you as a professional can be tough, but it’s very important.

If you’re trying to work and your children are constantly calling you, requesting assistance, or wanting your attention, it can really take away from your productivity, and force a 10-minute job to become a 2-hour job.  You have to decide whether you’re work is meaningful in scale in comparison to your role as a professional, and if it’s meaningful enough that it’s worth the sacrifice.

For me, I found that my work in the community; helping business owners grow their businesses is impacting many lives, and is a part of my overall legacy.  I want to be known as a mom but also as a professional, therefore, I made the choice to set clear parenting boundaries and get childcare to enable me to work.

3. Personal Life Versus Professional Life

When you’re starting out in business, you’re looking for anyone that will talk to you about your product or service. People who will talk to you AND buy from you get lots of cool points. Over time, the number of people with “cool points” grows and before you know it, you have lots of people who are connected to you thru some business association (subcontractors, employees, customers, prospects, and vendors) and you can easily become crowded by calls and emails that interfere with other valuable connections.

Your professional life can crowd out your relationships with your friends, family, and even your own serenity.  It’s important to be stern about what time belongs to your family, what time you dedicate to your marriage, what time you give your personal self-development, and what time you engage with friends.

4. Marriage Boundaries

professional boundariesSometimes, entrepreneurs may have a spouse that works with them in their business, and sometimes, they may not.  Whether the couple works together or not, it’s still important to have boundaries that enable a healthy marriage and a healthy business.

When the boundaries get off track, you might find yourself talking mostly about business rather than maintaining the friendship and romantic ties of the marriage.  On the other hand, if the marriage becomes too much of the focus, you can find yourself discussing personal pet preferences, spending too much time on the phone or on dates, or being overly flirtatious in the workplace.  Marriage boundaries are crucial to a thriving business.

5. Social Boundaries

Healthy relationships can encourage you personally and professionally to max out your life potential.  It’s important to keep healthy relationships because they have the power to sharpen you in ways nothing else can. If you allow your business boundaries to drown your social life, you may struggle with problem-solving because you’d have no advisors.  You might struggle with loneliness because you wouldn’t have people to hang out with, and ultimately, getting out of balance with your social life can lead to decreased motivation, and less fulfillment.  It’s important to be mindful about your schedule, whether social boundaries are being crossed, and to re-insert time slots where you can interact with friends and positive influences.

6. Paid versus Free

In business, we know that giving value is a key ingredient for successful business, however, if you never put a boundary between paid and free, you could find yourself giving with no monetary return for your efforts.

While some people will have a conscience that holds them responsible for paying even if there’s no verbal request, that’s not always the case.  In his book In Sheep’s Clothing, Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Simon George talked about the growing prevalence of disturbed character.  He described how people with character disturbance don’t think about win-win situations and don’t naturally reciprocate giving; instead, they think solely about themselves and their benefit (even to your demise).  Since both, conscientious people and character disturbed people exist in the world, you have to be clear about what’s free versus what’s paid because otherwise you could be manipulated into poor revenue.

7. Sales versus Full Price

professional boundariesSome businesses offer sales to lower the risk and increase the conversion rates.  Unfortunately, if you run too many sales, customers will start to think the product isn’t worth the full price, and it can hurt your overall profits.  If you have a sale, you want to be clear about the time frame you’ll be running the sale for, which products/services will be on sale, what the discount is, and how often you’ll run a similar sale.

8. What’s Negotiable versus What’s not

There are aggressive personalities and passive ones.  Often times, an aggressive personality who presents a demand to a passive personality will get their way even in business.  Regardless of personality type, entrepreneurs need to learn to be assertive and firm about what’s negotiable versus what’s not otherwise, they could find themselves constantly in a negative cycle.

9. Ethics

Sometimes, decision-making can get confusing.  In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to decide what’s right and what’s wrong especially if you don’t have a clear ethical stance on many business matters you might face.  It’s important to decide how to operate with ethics, so you can sustain a good reputation, build a character-strong team, and operate a successful business.

10. Vision, Mission, Purpose

If you’re not clear about your vision, mission, and purpose, you can easily find yourself on the rat wheel “shiny object syndrome”.  Businesses that are unclear about where they are and where they’re going easily get distracted by every new offer that says “make money doing…”.  It’s important to sit down, decide on your life plan, choose where you want to go, and the legacy you want to lead, and stay focused.

Final Words on Professional Boundaries You Need to Set

The goal of this article was to show professional boundaries you need to set to be successful. It’s crucial to apply these boundaries to your life so your business and personal life can flourish.  If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.  I’d love to help you out!

Now, it’s Your Turn…

Have you struggled with professional boundaries? Which ones? Are there professional boundaries I didn’t mention? Leave your comments and questions below.

8 thoughts on “10 Professional Boundaries You Need to Set to Be Successful in Business”

  1. The toughest thing I find is to balance both personal life and professional life. When you work from home, there will be distractions which won’t let you know concentrate on the stuff you do like writing content and some other website related stuff. What I like to do is work on my website in the morning when everybody goes to school and work and when my family members are back, I would like to help them and spend time with them. Morning is work tome and evening is family time. I managed to do the rest of the things properly without having to face any issues. 

    1. Balancing personal and professional life can be a challenge, but it has to be done in order to really flourish in business. I’ve had my ebbs and flows as family members get sick or people drop by unexpectedly. Some things you won’t want to prevent, but with many things, it comes to a point where you have to put those strong boundaries up to ensure your productivity in business.

  2. A wonderfully refreshing article on the not so nice side of business sometimes. Boundaries I agree we all have to set them and it is an often times over looked aspect of how to grow as a business also. We can not grow without boundaries. The key I think as you pointed out is to be able to balance, you have to be focused of course but also flexible.

  3. In the past I’ve had relationships that didn’t share my vision.  I appreciated your Vision, Mission, Purpose statement.  I don’t need my significant other to have the exact same vision as I do but, they have to support my vision, understand my mission and ultimately that they hold the purpose of what I’m doing in at least the same light.  I agree with you that it’s not always an easy balance to find but, if we know what we want/need to move forward we can find a balance with a lot of love and patience.

    I’ve been that person who gives too much away for free.  I still do it on occasion but, only for close friends.  My time and efforts are just as valuable as anyone else’s.  I just needed to have the faith in myself that everyone else already had!  Because, I never graduated from college, I felt like I was always a step behind in the business world (even though none of my multiple-degree friends EVER made me feel insignificant!.)  It was just the story I told myself.  I changed the way I spoke to myself and a lot changed.

    Thank you for this reminder to stick to my professional boundaries.  It really is key!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Relationships that disagree or don’t support one another on a business mission, vision, or purpose can be very stressful if that’s not worked out. You’re right about that.

      With the paid versus free, many entrepreneurs struggle with that (me included). If you’re a natural giver, it can be a real practice of self-discipline to cut yourself off from giving too much, but it’s important to set a limit especially if you want to make a living from your business. 

      Regarding the education…

      I’ve heard many people who tell themselves the self-limiting belief that they are less significant because of their education. It’s not a college degree that will make you more or less successful. It takes a genuine desire to learn (which can be done outside of college), applying knowledge, and a work ethic. 

  4. Chrissie Spurgeon

    Hi Tiffany

    I think that every entrepreneur or would-be entrepreneur needs to understand the need for professional boundaries, and you have outlined those clearly and succinctly.

    Some of the boundaries which you mention, particularly those which concern your family, may be very hard to implement, but as you say, if you really want to focus on your success then you need to bite the bullet and take them on board. Success depends to a large extent on attitude – the right attitude will clarify the boundaries which you need to implement, and will make that implementation easier.

    I must confess that the one I find most difficult is time management – so often I manage to convince myself that there are many other things which I need to do before concentrating on my business – need to work on that!

    Very many thanks for your post

    Chrissie 🙂

    1. You gave some great advice here Chrissie! I think many entrepreneurs (myself included) can agree about the challenges of time management. We all have to tell ourselves and others “no” at times when we want to say “yes” in order to keep things on schedule. Great to hear you’re working to improve that. Keep it up.

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