If you’re a small business owner, you know what it is like to be stretched to your limits. Setting boundaries in our businesses and forcing ourselves to work within the boundaries of sanity can be an incredibly difficult task. Jami Mays gives us a little behind the scenes of how she’s set boundaries in her business and how those boundaries are impacting her business.
Jami Mays, Head Bitch in Charge at Imaj Works, focuses on branding/website design and development & content creation for counselors, therapists, helpers.
What are boundaries in your business and how do you maintain them?
I was getting burned out, frustrated. Our family was stretched and I was tempted to give up the business. I had no idea how many hours I work a week. My husband felt that I was always on, even during family time.
Setting boundaries is my most authentic form of self care. Most self employed people say “I’m tired” “I’m busy”. I decided 6 months ago to stop letting my work tell me what to do.
How do you decide for yourself what’s fair and realistic?
Respect your time. Think about what is appropriate in the time you are in right now. If it is work time, work. If it is family time, don’t work. Set periods of time for working and stick to those as much as possible. I try to set real 9 – 5 hours and stick to those. My family and my life is more important than an out of line widget or a button that doesn’t work.
Part of setting boundaries is defining your audience
You have to know who your target market is. Who do you wanna work with? Don’t be motivated by money to do the work that is outside of your set boundaries.
Your first opportunity to set boundaries is on your website. Outline what you do and do not do and who your client is. Make your website work for you and filter out the people you don’t want to work with.
How do you use automation to maintain your boundaries?
I took my email off my phone. (I know, right?!) I took back my time as my time and stopped feeling tied to a device at all times.
I started using Trello for project management. Trello is the only place clients can communicate with me about their project. We use Trello boards to manage our projects and they no longer email me.
I also use Calendly for to set all of my appointments. Calendly lets me set specific parameters for each meeting type and clients can schedule themselves. This saves me from the back and forth and wasted time that goes with scheduling meetings.
How do you communicate your boundaries to your clients?
Just be yourself, be honest about who you are and how you work with clients. Be real with your clients and they will treat you like a person. Respect yourself as a human, not just a business owner — and your clients will respect you. You can actually make a deeper, more human connection with clients by being yourself instead of putting on your business face.
How do you reset when you do cross your own boundaries?
First, I don’t beat myself up about it. There are times I will have to work on a weekend, variables sometimes force me to work outside of my set boundaries. I can’t always avoid that.
I recognize that when I am overwhelmed I need to take some time off and unplug from work. I actually come back and get more done than if I wallow in the stress. I actually take Thursdays off because that is my day to go to therapy. I work 4 days a week instead of 5. Do I feel more stressed because of that, no? Do I get the same amount of work done? Yes.
How has this affected your business?
I’m making more money. I’m working less and making more. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it gives the the opportunity to focus more on the work that I want to do and create a natural ripple effect in my referrals. I’m creating demand for my services, I’m working with just the people I really want to work with, I have the time to take on retainer work, and I’m happier and making more money because of it.