Boundaries for Small Business Owners – Finding Peace Where Work & Life Intersect

boundaries-for-small-business-owners-finding-peace-where-work-and-life-intersectThis is a call for all the over-worked, tired, multi-tasking, schedule-full women entrepreneurs out there.  Are you feeling a little run down? What do you do to preserve yourself, your relationships and your business?

In my experience with my private coaching clients and as I meet with women entrepreneurs across the country, I have found that many women business owners have been parading around and proudly sharing their middle name: “Sacrifice”.

In our efforts to juggle our roles, many of us (myself included, at times) have felt the need to sacrifice our own needs and self-care for the benefit of our businesses, our families, our communities, our church groups and so much more.

Though I do believe that there are times when self-sacrifice (or marital sacrifice) is needed, as a general rule I think this practice is overused – leaving us tired, run down and in many cases it can negatively affect our business and it usually affects our relationships with family and friends.

Though I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I have to be reminded of these tips, here are the three boundaries that I use to ensure that I can preserve time for myself and make sure my business isn’t effecting family time.

  1. I begin and end every day with myself. It might sound selfish at first, but if you aren’t currently doing this practice, I encourage you to give it a try and see how it works.  In my world, I call it my Power Up and Power Down Routine.

In the morning, I get up BEFORE my kids and often my husband to fill my own well.  Though the actual items may vary for each one of you, I do something physical to wake me up.  This isn’t typically my exercise time, but I’ll do some sit ups, stairs or take a quick walk outside to wake up my body and brain.  Then I read something motivational.  On my bedside table you’ll find 8-10 books at any given time.  I use this as my reading time.  Sometimes I’m reading the latest marketing book, other times I’m re-reading a chapter from my favorite success reference: The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield.  I also love to listen to my Ideal LifeVision and connect with my goals and mission.  I’ll also connect with my spiritual needs.

This time is so critical.  When I’m sick or get out of the groove, I can feel the difference in my day.  If I wait until my kids wake up, I feel two steps behind all day, and I feel like I’m running on empty.

In the evening, I review the next day’s schedule and review my action list (a.k.a. to-do list).  I like to review these before bed so that I’m not lying in bed wondering if I remembered to add something to my list, or questioning the time for my son’s T-Ball game or if lunch with a client is at 12:30 or 1:00 PM.  Then I ready something spiritual and pray to quiet my mind and reconnect. If my eyelids haven’t given in yet and I have more time I’ll continue reading in my motivational or learning books.  I put my brain and my body to sleep in a way that gives me incredible sleep and sleep is the ultimate secret to my success.

The Power Up and Power Down routines don’t necessarily have a time limit.  I know some love their “Power Hour” but sometimes I only need 15 minutes to get grounded and centered and I’m ready to move on.  Other mornings, I need longer.

To clarify, I do this before I do ANYTHING else.  Before email, social media, etc.  I don’t want to get caught up in work yet, or caught up in the life of family and friends before I can make sure I have the self-care I need.

I like to make sure my well is full before I meet the needs of my family, my business or other roles that I play.  When my needs are met I’m satisfied, fulfilled and I’m better able to deal with the hiccups that come throughout the day.

  1. I schedule time for my roles, just as I do meetings with clients.  When I mention at speaking engagements that I schedule time with my kids and my husband, I’m surprised  how frequently I’m criticized for being so rigid that I “schedule” time with my family and friends.  Why shouldn’t I?  I want my kids and my husband to know (and myself for that matter) that time with my family is just as important (if not more so) as lunch with a friend or a coaching call with a client.  I want to make sure that I’m spending good time with them each week.  We schedule time to go to the park or the pool and look forward to fun activities each week.  Scheduling fun activities with my kids also makes it easier for them to be patient during coaching calls and when I’m away speaking at events.  I like to make sure that date night is on the schedule before too many other things get in the way. I make my marriage a priority each week.  Preserving my relationships is more important to me than my business.  If my business thrives, but my family resents me for it, then I feel incomplete and out of balance.  But when I make my relationships a priority I feel more fulfilled and my support system has a firm foundation.

I “batch” my time in time blocks. I run three businesses from home and have two small children under five.  I’m a time management junkie and I’ve tried every system under the sun.  What’s great about time blocks is they can work with any calendar system you may use – digital or on paper.  Though there’s a lot more detail on this principle, simply put, I batch like items together.  I do all my marketing tasks in two 2-hour blocks.  I make my videos every week on Tuesday mornings in a 1-hour block.  I do my coaching calls on Thursday afternoons and Tuesday afternoons.  You get the idea.  What’s great about this system is that I put them on my calendar.  When I put my writing time on the calendar, I’m telling my brain to prepare, and I’m setting myself up to succeed in completing my book.  Time blocks are one way that I preserve my schedule and get everything done.

  1. Presence. With lots of responsibilities it can be easy to get distracted.  However, when I’m in my time blocks, I don’t let other things creep in.  I don’t take calls during my marketing time.  I don’t check my email during my writing time.  I don’t text with friends during date night (unless my husband is in the bathroom, *wink*).  I turn the notifications for Twitter and Facebook off on my phone so that I can check social media on my terms and not be distracted when I’m with my kids.  Presence is a key to my success.  When my relationships are weak, it’s usually because I let work creep into friend and family time when it shouldn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  These can be easy things to say and hard things to actually do.  Trust me, I struggle with them too.  The truth remains, when I make self-care a priority, preserve my relationships and schedule my business success, sacrifice isn’t necessary.  And though I’m not the poster child for role preservation and boundaries, I can attest that when I’m rocking these four things life is a lot smoother, and my business thrives.

What tips do you have for boundaries for work and home life?

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of National Small Business Week, Visa Business created the following infographic highlighting eye-opening facts about small business owners and examining important small business trends.

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit

Originally Published on on June 19, 2013

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