From Chaos to Control: Navigating Boundaries as a Business Owner

Today’s episode of the podcast is all about how to set clear boundaries in your business, to help you find balance and supercharge your success.

This is a huge subject, and so this episode is only an introduction, but in it I cover the things that put you off making boundaries, what you worry about when you do make them, and then how to actually make boundaries and enforce them.



  1. Questions to ask yourself to find out what boundaries you need
  2. How to have a flexible approach to boundaries and still ensure they're respected
  3. What you need to do when you communicate your boundaries

Did you take something from this episode that you're going to put into practice? Please do connect with me over on my socials and let me know, I'd love to hear from you!



Connect with Teresa on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter



Hello and a super warm welcome to this week's episode of the Your Deam Business Podcast. And as always, I am your host, Teresa Heath Wareing. So this week, big subject and I think it's a subject that every business owner, well, generally anybody, but specifically business owners need to hear. And it might be one that you, well, not might, it's definitely going to be one that you want to share with your friends and share with your business friends, because this is one that I think everybody struggles with.

This week, we are talking about boundaries. I said it, the big dreaded word. Most business owners that I speak to either tell me directly they need to work on their boundaries or they share stuff with me that makes me think. You need to work on your boundaries. And I've been wanting to talk about this for ages.

And I've been doing research and learning and watching stuff and listening to stuff and reading stuff. And I like to really know a subject well before I talk about it. And this is a big subject, a really, really big subject. So the chances are we are just going to do a bit of a whistle stop tour around some of the key elements.

But most importantly, The things that put you off making boundaries, what you worry about when you make boundaries and then how to actually make boundaries and enforce them. So this week we are going to be doing an introduction to boundaries and I want you to listen up, take some notes if you need to and then try and put some of these things in practice.

Because it's something that anybody can improve their situation by working on. And. It goes for me too, like I can work on my boundaries as much as anybody else. And actually some of the stuff that we're going to be talking about is a bit surprising today. So get ready, like I said, share this with someone who you think you'll need and we will look at boundaries.

So. This is something that people really struggle with. They struggle to put boundaries in place. Because often they attach boundaries to something negative, or bad, or emotions, or bad feelings, or they might think it's rude, or they're being mean. People think that if they put boundaries in place, that people won't like the fact that they've put a boundary in place, or it will upset someone, or they might appear rude or selfish.

That's a really good one. And especially if you're a female listening to this, or if you're a woman listening to this, actually women putting boundaries in place, like the names that people can come up with for them, you might be seen as hard or heartless or tough, or like I said, not caring, not thoughtful, not doing something for someone else.

And this is something that in my work life, I don't struggle too much with the boundaries because I don't work direct one to one with clients or we don't do services for people. We do, you know, I have a membership and I have clients through one to one work, but boundaries aren't normally a problem because, I guess because I've been doing this for a long time, that it's, I don't see them as boundaries as much.

I just see them as, this is the way we work. But that's exactly what the boundaries are. In my home life, I've really had to work on this and not so much with my immediate family as in my daughter, my husband, and whatever, but with my extended family, in terms of them measuring me by what they would do, and me having to put my boundaries in place and not be sorry about it. Not be sorry for going, this is how I live my life, or this is how I want to do it.

And I think that's one of the things that we need to talk about first. This isn't you saying. You are not okay for doing something a certain way. This isn't me looking at my family going, you're wrong for doing what you do. This is me going, this is what I want. This is my decision and this is how I want to do life, basically.

So… The fact is that often people think we, when we put boundaries in, we're saying that there's something wrong with how someone behaves. It's not. It's basically saying this is how we are willing to do things. This is how we want to behave, but also this is what we are willing to accept and not accept, and there's nothing wrong with that.

And when people think. You know, things like rude and bad and mean and they think emotions and they feel like it's a very emotional thing. And the truth is if you have boundaries in place, it's not emotion. In fact, if anything, it's absolutely clear and it's almost emotionless, not in a bad way, but it's not like, you know, some completely over emotional person going, I don't like this.

Some terrible acting. That isn't what it is. It's a very clear headed, confident person who knows exactly what they want and where they stand, giving those directions. And the other thing that when people think about it, like the mean and the rude and the bad, they assume that you have to deliver it in that context.

And you don't. It can be… A very pleasant thing or a very direct thing or a very neutral thing to put a boundary in place. It doesn't have to be angry or mean or upsetting. Now, if they choose that they don't like whoever you're setting the boundary with, if they choose they don't like your boundary, that's nothing to do with you.

Your part of this, conversation is to deliver your boundary and say that's where I stand. If they don't like it, Well, that's nothing to for you to be concerned with because that's based on them and their things. If they choose to get upset by it, then that's their thing. That's not yours. So it's not your job to make sure that people are happy with your boundaries.

It's your job to make sure they understand them and they honor them. So one thing, one of the reasons we might not have boundaries for ourself, one of the things that I've kind of deduced from talking lots and learning lots and whatever, is that often we don't have boundaries when we don't have enough love or respect for ourselves.

So when someone else's boundary is the rule and it's not ours, and we meet them at theirs, or, so let's take something like, being around some friends who speak in a way that you don't like, and You're there for letting them do whatever they want, which is up to them that's their decision and you're not saying actually I don't appreciate this conversation.

I don't want to be part of this conversation. You're basically saying that you don't matter and your voice doesn't matter and your opinion doesn't matter and that theirs is more important to you or theirs is more important than yours. So by saying actually I don't appreciate this conversation. This isn't a conversation I want to be in, and therefore whatever the boundary is that you set, you enforce, that's saying I matter, my voice matters, I matter, what I hear matters.

And for you to say actually, you know, you can't stop them having that conversation or behaving that way, that's up to them. But what you can say is I don't have to be part of this. This is actually something I had to do last year. We have some friends and We go and see them a lot and stay with them.

And for years now, you know, this friend will go to me and try and have a conversation with me and then try and pick a fight with me. Or he'll, he'll pick a subject that basically we are divided on and then like go to town on it. And he actually said to me, because this is who he is, you know, you should be honored that I think you're smart enough to spar with me, which, Wow, like, yeah, anyway, for a long time, because it wasn't my friend, it was my husband's friend initially, and then our friends, for a long time, I was like, you know what, you know, I'll just keep the peace, keep the peace, keep the peace.

And it actually turned out that they ended up saying something that really didn't align with my values. And I just went, I'm done. And ever since that point, I've put the boundary in place that I'm not going to be spending time with them because I don't want to be part of that conversation and I don't want to have to put myself through that thing.

And although I appreciate it's very difficult for my husband because they're his long term friends and it's tricky, for me, I'm making a boundary for me. Now, I'm not saying that he can't go and see them or spend time with them, but I won't be because I'm not willing to be in that conversation. And again, it's not that I'm saying, well actually, Personally, myself, I am saying they're wrong for having some of the conversations they had, but they can ultimately do what they want.

That's their decision. But I can enforce a boundary on me and go, yeah, no, I'm not being part of that anymore. So by me standing up for myself, by me going, actually, this is what I'm willing to put up with. I'm valuing me. So often, especially in business, when we let a client walk all over us or where we don't enforce our boundaries, we're basically saying to ourselves, they're more important than we are.

And they're not. Because we're the most important person that we need to deal with because we're the only one who can do it. And it's not that you're more important than them, it's just in your world, you have to focus on you. So often it's down to that respect and putting yourself first. And you're the only one who can do that.

You know, you're the one that has to be in control because you can't allow someone else to control your boundaries because they're not you. So you've got to do that. The other thing I want to say at this point is it's not selfish to put yourself first. We are drilled into, and again I think this is a very feminine thing, that we're drilled into, you know, It's selfish to put ourselves first.

It's selfish to not think of the children first, and not think of the, our partners first, or our family first. It's not selfish to set boundaries and put us and our feelings first. Like, what was the point in me, every time we go to that friend's feeling upset, and angry, and anxious, and frustrated, and annoyed, I'm not putting myself first, and that's not selfish.

That's not selfish for me to go, I don't want to put up with this actually, so I'm not going to, you know, be, be part of that conversation and be in that. The other thing that is good to say at this point is this isn't about controlling others. Okay, your boundaries don't control others. Others can do what they want.

What your boundaries do is they limit, it's a limit you set around you and how people are allowed to engage with you. So it's not about trying to encourage them or change them. My job wasn't to change how that person was. My job was to go, do you know what? My limit is no, I can't deal with that anymore.

So they can still carry on doing the thing that they want, but you're limiting what you are willing to put up with. So when I was thinking about this boundary subject, I was thinking about the fact of how it's attached to our own self worth maybe, or how much we, you know, respect ourselves, i. e. why would we allow someone else to do something that we don't like?

And I thought back to how do we set boundaries well, and I thought back to being a parent and about one of the reasons we set boundaries for children, and obviously it's different because we're setting them for someone else, is to keep them safe and keep them healthy and keep them well. So one of the boundaries might be that I tell my teenage daughter to go to sleep at a fairly decent time.

We'll try and encouragement to go to sleep at decent time because My job as a parent is to parent her and to make sure that she is getting sleep. It might be like today, I said to her, how many vegetables have You had the past 24 hours and it was one mushroom and she didn't like it.

So I was enforcing a boundary where I was like, Well, I say it's a boundary, it's not strictly a boundary, but I thought the analogy was helpful to say to her, okay, you need to do that because you need to be a bit healthy. So almost, if it helps, imagine us as a younger child, imagine the little you and that you're having to parent yourself.

So imagine if you went to your, if I went to my parents and said, I'm going to laugh because I said this, because I'm sure they wouldn't care less, but, let's pretend my daughter came to me and said, There's this person who's horrible and I hate the way they are. And they're not kind and they say mean things.

Then I would encourage her to put a boundary in place. I would encourage her to go, don't hang out with those people. That's not nice. Or if my daughter came to me and said, I've scheduled back to back meetings all day. I've had no time for lunch. I'd be like, darling, don't do that. Next time. How about you make sure that you put in a break or whatever.

So if it helps for you to think of yourself as a younger self to give yourself, and I always, this has always helped me when I had to do this kind of work where I've had to imagine me as a younger self. And then I have a lot more sympathy and empathy and love. So it's about thinking what's best for you and you being the person that makes those decisions.

So how do you set some boundaries in place? And like I said, with clients, it's crazy important. Now, before we get into the how to, one thing I do want to add is boundaries are just the rules. Okay. And when it comes to clients, people need to know the rules. And we often, when we're setting them, we attach a lot of stuff to it.

We might attach the emotion of, Oh my God, they're going to think I'm awful because I don't do that thing. Or they're going to think I'm rude or they're going to think I'm expecting too much, all they need to know are the rules. That's all they need to do. Manage their expectations. And the only way you can manage expectations is telling them the rules.

Telling them how something works. When I work with someone new, and I say to them, you know, how does this work? I want them to tell me, right. You send me this, I do this, then this happens, then this happens. I don't think at any point, Oh my God, who the hell do they think they are by making these rules? No, I think, great, now I know where I stand.

So that's something really, really important to think about when you're setting boundaries in place from a work point of view, especially if you have clients or customers, which obviously hopefully most of us have because we're selling something. If we haven't, then it's a very expensive hobby. So. How do you set your boundaries?

Well, the first thing you've got to get clear on is you and what's important to you. What's Do you want from life? What do you want to know? How do you want to spend your time? What are your non negotiables? So that's the first question you're gonna ask yourself. What are my non negotiables? So I'm gonna use business examples.

So let's say I am working with clients. I don't work on a weekend I don't want to be contacted at the weekend. I don't want to answer emails on a weekend. So my non negotiable would be, I don't work weekends. My other non negotiable might be, I'm not contactable after 6 p. m. at night or 5 p. m. To be honest, most days it'd be like three.

No, you know, I'm not contactable. Another non negotiable might be, I can only be contacted through email and not via text. And that might be, this doesn't necessarily have to be a kind of control thing, this could be down to, actually I work so much better in email, and therefore I'm likely not to lose your request if you email it me, whereas if you text it me I'm likely to lose it.

So that's the first thing. What is it that is your non negotiables? And it could also be for you. So it doesn't have to just be for the client. It could also be, so one of the things that I am an absolute nightmare at doing, because when I make appointments, if I start filling up a day in my diary, I try and get everything into that day.

Purely from a laziness point of view. If I've got to do hair and makeup and be camera ready, then let's squeeze all the meetings in on that day. And I do think… My brain works better when I've got a full day of meetings rather than having like one random day here, one what here, one here. However, one thing I am a nightmare at doing is putting any gaps in them.

So one of my own might be a non negotiable for me to decide that actually I have to give myself a lunch break. So that's not affecting anybody else. That's my own boundary for me. The other thing that it might be is if you like going to the gym. I don't. That's not a problem for me. But, you know, if you have to go to the gym or go for a walk or whatever, then you might need to put that in and go, that's my non negotiable.

I need to make time every day regardless of what I've got in my diary to go for a walk. I had an amazing speaker at my online event for my members a couple of years back, called Chris Mullins, Dr. Chris Mullins, and he talked about it can be movable, not removable. So when it comes to those non negotiables, they can be movable, but you can't remove them.

So. If you know that one of your non negotiables, like I said, is you're going to go for a walk and you normally go at 10 AM and you've had to book something in at 10, then you can move it to a different time. You can't remove it. And that's that kind of like, this also comes down to self integrity because no one's going to check with you.

There's something so powerful and there's some stuff I've done this year where I've really had to work on my self integrity, where I've been trying to do something and no one would have known if I'd done it, but I had to go, I would know, and I am worth, you know, that much that I'm not going to do it. So that's the next thing.

So those non negotiables, what do you want them to be either for you, for clients or both? It could be for the family as well. It could be that actually a non negotiable is, I work late on a Thursday and you have to do dinner. Other examples of things it could be is that you don't do coffee chats, because people peak your brains.

It could be that you don't take on work that you don't do, or that you don't like doing, or you don't work with certain people. It could be that you don't overschedule yourself, or you don't book too much in a day like I do. It could be as simple as A communication method with a client or how you get paid.

It could be that you invoice upfront for work. And again, I think people get scared about that, but if, if that's the rules of working with someone, then I either like it or I don't. And if I don't, I don't work with them. So it's not up to them to be concerned how I take that information. It's their job to go, this is what we do.

The other thing that's really important to say is that when you decide what those things are, so when you decide what your non negotiables are, and you start making those boundaries and you start listing out those things. You've got to know that you've got to enforce them. It's again, this is what made me come back to the child thing.

Like, you know, you let them get away with it once. They're going to get away with it again and again and again and again. We all know what it's like as parents. Like I'm not going to do that. And then you do it. And then that's it. The little so and sos, you know, they know exactly how to play you. So you need to know that you are going to start enforcing some of these boundaries.

And sometimes it's just simple as sending an email. Sometimes it's just simple as saying, these are my you know, replying hours. I had someone who I work with go, I'm no longer using Slack. It doesn't work for me. So therefore if you need me, it's going to have to go through a support email. I had a decision to make at that point.

Was I okay with that? And I was, so I stayed with them. So it doesn't have to be that. You know, if I decided that didn't work for me and I left, then fine, that's up to me. But it shouldn't be that then they changed their boundary because it didn't fit with me. So it's got to work with you. Now, the other thing about enforcing these boundaries, like how do you enforce them?

Once you've decided, okay, this is what I'm going to do. You need a kind of plan in terms of what enforcing them looks like. And it doesn't have to be a really negative, angry, aggressive, argumentative way. It could be… that you, there's a book, from Melissa Urban, and she talks about the, yellow, green, yellow, red, I can't remember, green, amber, red, I don't know, but something like that, where basically, it's like, okay, well, what would be the nice, easiest way to do this, and it could be that someone.

So, you know, you've set a boundary that they have to email you through a certain email if they want stuff done and they send you a text. So the nice one, the kind of green one, could be, Thanks so much for this. Could you, you know, would you mind emailing over just so we can process it? Like, it doesn't have to be aggressive, it doesn't have to be whatever.

The next one, so you're, you're kind of, you know, amber level might be that they've done it a couple of times and they're still not getting it. So then you reply going, you know, I really need to encourage you to reply, you know, email this, any future ones I'm going to ignore. And then the next one comes through and you ignore it.

So. It's just about building up to it. If someone doesn't respect your boundary, then you are going to have to enforce it. And you are going to have to get a bit harder. But it doesn't mean that you have to do that from day one. From day one, you can have a nice, gentle, How would I enforce this? Or how would I encourage them to enforce this?

So, like I said, it's a big old subject. And I feel like I've barely scratched the surface, but I really hope that I've given you some thoughts and ideas. I hope that you've been able to share this with your friends and colleagues in terms of how they might set boundaries too, because when everyone knows where they stand, it just makes things a whole lot clearer.

When I think of any argument that my husband and I have, it's not, it's come down to miscommunication and boundaries help with communication. Like when you think about any arguments you have with loved ones or family or colleagues or whatever, like often it's down to one person expecting something different from the other.

Whereas if you've set that boundary and said, this is how this works, then that takes all that off the table. If they don't respect that boundary, then you have to look at how you can enforce it. And like I said, that doesn't have to start in a really big, mean, aggressive way. That can start really gently because it might be that they just forgot.

It might be that they didn't realize it might be that they need a reminding. If they start to take the mickey out of it, then that's when you might have to come in a little bit stronger. So hopefully you've enjoyed this episode and I will see you next week.