How to set and enforce your boundaries
Business boundaries can be a touchy subject for all - we don’t want to be rude, we don’t want to be unattractive to clients. Defining and enforcing business/personal boundaries seem to invite tension and negativity into our lives.
But, business and personal lives are two different things, and setting clear rules is just as important in business relationships as it is in personal ones.
It’s important that us (mostly) businesswomen learn an extremely important skill as we transition to becoming entrepreneurs: how to be assertive. Women are often taught to be soft, kind and accommodating beyond their boundaries, and when we come into more masculine roles when running a business, it can be hard to listen to ourselves and stand up for what we believe we’re worth. The key to being assertive without compromising customer service (or reputation) is to be soft, kind and accommodating while having an unwavering confidence in enforcing your boundary.
From talking with social media thought leaders, students and other business owners over the past few months, there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what setting clear boundaries means and how to do it. Here are some clear ways to set and enforce boundaries in your lash, or beauty, business.
- Clearly define your boundaries with yourself.
If you are a new lash artist, you need to think about your IDEAL work life balance and working hours. Will you take after hours clients? Will you work weekends? Do clients text you when they arrive or knock on your door?
From there, work backwards to determine what boundaries/policies you need in order for you to live that life. Setting boundaries as a new lash artist often overlooked - who knows if you’ll be successful enough to need to enforce boundaries, right? But what if you ARE a huge success? Then what? Be prepared. Think ahead.
If you are already in the trenches with having little boundaries and more than clients than you ever thought you’d have then you need to identify the areas where you need to set boundaries and define them clearly. You must determine what is most important to you and what you are willing to compromise (if there is anything). Think about your past experiences and reflect on any past situations where you felt uncomfortable. It’s time to update your policies on social media as a gentle introduction of your brand spanking new boundaries.
- Enforce your boundaries.
It’s time to say no, and depending on the severity of the situation, we need to communicate this no in different ways. Be clear and specific but it’s extremely important that you listen actively and give the other person space to communicate their grievances. Active listening can help diffuse any situation, it checks us and allows us to stop ourselves from jumping to conclusions, becoming emotionally driven or judging. Give people the chance to explain themselves. Maintain a professional tone and avoid getting petty, defensive or confrontational - your reputation has a lot more to lose than the other person does.
Remember that effective communication is key to maintaining healthy boundaries in your business. By expressing your boundaries clearly and respectfully initially, you can often avoid the need to enforce your boundaries at all.
- Be consistent:
It’s important to stay true to your values instead of what you see others doing, figure out what is non negotiable for you, not for the lash tech down the road. The key to enforcing your boundaries consistently and not making exceptions is to set realistic ones that you can maintain with a little push. If you feel like your boundaries may be challenged in some way (you think a client will question paying your cancellation fee, a client shows you an inspo photo that has a completely different eye shape), anticipate this and plan how you will respond in advance.
Remember that setting boundaries is an aspect of self-care in business and essential for maintaining healthy business relationships. When done with kindness and clarity, setting boundaries can help you achieve your goals while maintaining positive relationships with clients, colleagues, and partners.