How do you define your boundaries? What are your dividers or “containers” to keep things in check? How do you separate your business and your life?

Here is the fourth video in the 10 part Business Boundaries series on Your Containers …

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Here is the pdf guide mentioned in the video and below is the full transcript:

Day 4: Your Containers Tonight we’re in the second part of the 10 Days and we’re going to be talking about “Defining those boundaries” as specifically as you can. We’ve been brainstorming a lot about the various boundaries that you already have that may have just been subconscious kind of boundaries. Now we’re going to get really specific about defining the various domains in your life and in your business and what kind of boundaries you need in place around them. Some places it’s going to be kind of a line in the sand. Some places it may be a fence or a wall or a wall with moat and barbwire on top of it. [laughs] It depends upon what you’re protecting inside and who are the kind of people who are on the outside and how much they respect your boundaries. Let’s go ahead and get started.

The first boundary we’re going to look at, creating and defining specifically, is the boundary around your business. The container of your business. The domain of your business. What is your business and what isn’t? This could be a real issue for those of us who are small business owners, who are entrepreneurs, and our businesses are very much an expression of who we are. Even in that case, even where you’re showing up as the complete manifestation of yourself in your work, and you absolutely love what you do, you still, and actually I would argue, even more so, need boundaries to be able to do your best work and to be able to be yourself as much as possible in that business, because otherwise, you’re going to have energy leaks all over the place, so let’s start working on that.

The first thing we’re going to work on are the energy containers, you could say, around your business. Those boundaries that really are about managing your energy. We’re going to be thinking about together, the time management issues. How much time are you spending on your business? When are you at work and when are you not at work? This is a huge issue for a lot of entrepreneurs, because fundamentally when you’re the business owner when you’re the one who’s doing everything, even more so, you’re always at work. It is important to have times in your life where you’re not. We’re going to look at what are your priorities? What are the things in your life that you’re really dedicated to besides your business? Where do the various things rank? There may be things in your life, and probably are things in your life, that are actually a higher priority to you than this work.

That’s good and fine and wonderful. In that case, how are you making choices on a daily basis to differentiate between what’s in the business? When are you in the business? What are things and people in the business? How they get to access you, versus other things that are more important? We’ll look at how much of your resources are dedicated to this work? It’s kind of a relapse to everything else we’re talking about but how much of your energy? How much of your time? How much of you is going into this work and to your clients? Versus are you saving for yourself? Are you saving for enjoying life? Are you saving for friends and family? Are you saving for other projects? There’s no one right answer to all these questions but it’s something really important to examine, because all these boundary things, especially these things around your business, not only is it going to be helpful when you’re dealing with other people, but it’s going to be really helpful when you’re dealing with yourself.

A lot of boundaries isn’t about how other people treat you. It’s about how you make decisions. It’s about how you treat yourself in your own business. I want to be specific about what is important to you? What are the priorities? So you know how to allocate the most important resource in your business which is you. You’ll also going to look at what other resources that are going to be allocated in this business. For example, maybe you’re putting your money, your personal money, into this business. Maybe you’re putting the money of one business project into another business project. Maybe you’re spending your personal credit on this business. You want to make those choices consciously. There’s no one right answer. Nothing inherently wrong with spending your own money or your own credit on your business work. But it needs to be made as a strategic decision that is based upon your priorities, your values, your goals, your boundaries, as opposed to something that you get talked into.

That’s one of the things we’re talking about here. It’s not just you don’t have any contracts and your clients treat you well and pay on time or whatever. We’re talking about how everybody treats you and how you treat yourself. Being very specific about what you’re willing to spend your personal money on, what you’re will to spend your personal credit on, will make it easier when someone presents you with the latest thing, seminar, information products, service, consulting program, app, whatever it is, some amazing solution, you’ll know, “Hey, do I have the money for this?” I don’t mean, do you somehow have cash or a line of credit, or a credit card that has room on it, but, do you have allocated the money to this particular priority to spend money on this thing before you even start talking about the value of the thing. This is the kind of boundaries that sometimes sneak up on people, it is actually the most important boundary is how you treat yourself before you even set boundaries with the other people in your life. The next group of containers for your business is, you’ll call this legal, containers or risk management containers, formal containers.

These are the constructs that you’re creating for your business to separate it from you. That’s all a corporation or an LLC really is. It’s setting up this legal construct where this is the business and then this is you. You and the business are not the same thing. That is important, actually from a spiritual perspective. [laughs] And it’s also important from a legal perspective. But don’t get me wrong. Everybody does not need to be an LLC or a corporation. I know there are lawyers that say that. I completely disagree. However, everybody needs to think about how they’re going to define their business as being separate from themselves. What are they going to put in place, even if it’s not setting up an LLC or corporation? Because that cost money. It cost administrative legwork and logistics and all kinds of stuff that go into that. It’s the right decision for everyone, especially on day one.

Whether or not you have an LLC or corporation, there’s a number of things that every business owner is going to want to think about, that ‘s going to help protect you from the inherent risks of having a business. One of them is insurance. There’s business liability insurance. There’s professional liability insurance. There’s an admissions insurance. A whole of bunch of insurance there is. If you have employees, there’s an insurance you want to get that’s going to protect you from what your employees may or may not be doing. The types of insurance you can get are not super expensive. Sometimes there can even be riders on top your homeowners insurance or your renters insurance. These don’t need to be gigantic things necessarily but does give you a bit of protection, especially if you’re not going to have an LLC or corporation. They can be really important if you’re going to be dealing with the public in person.

If you’re going to be doing live events, someone could fall and break their leg. There’s just a little bit more liability there, right? If you’re going to be selling products that maybe are related to health that people will be consuming or that people will be putting in their bodies or using in a way that could theoretically cause harm to someone, you’re going to want to have some insurance protection there too. You’ll also want to think about financially how you’re going to keep your business separate from you. This is a vital thing if you’re an LLC or corporation. If you’re an LLC or corporation, your company needs to have, it signs its own contracts. It’s your name but your name as president for the name of the LLC or corporation. Your business has its own bank account. It has its own PayPal account. It has its own credit cards. It has its own bookkeeping system.

Now, if you’re a sole proprietor, you still should keep your business in its own little financial bubble, not just because you should from a tax perspective, even though you should, but also from a boundaries perspective. We want to know, does your business make money or not? What deductions does your business have? We want to set you up so that way when it’s time to do taxes, it’s not this horrible, horrible thing. It doesn’t have to be a horrible, horrible thing. It can just be, like, “Oh. It’s time to send stuff to my tax preparer person. So I print this thing out or I save this Excel spreadsheet, or I make this PDF file and I send it to them, and then in my cup, there you go!” That’s what we want. It doesn’t have to be this horrible thing. Now, for those of you who have a truly small business.

You’re in the very beginning. You have a business that really is a hobby. You’ll be happy if you make a thousand dollars on your business in the next six months. That’s totally fine. Every business doesn’t need to be this thing that supports 20 different people as employees. Every business doesn’t need to be big. It definitely all don’t need to be big from the beginning. Even if you have a business and it’s tiny. Even if your business fail to make a thousand dollars a year, I still recommend that you have a separate account for it. It could just be a PayPal account. It could just be you have a Gmail that’s just for the business and you set up a PayPal account that’s linked to that Gmail, that’s it. It’s like a business PayPal account, it doesn’t need to cost any money. Just a PayPal account.

Because then, number one, you’ll know what income happen in the business. You’ll actually going to be able to say, “I made $1000 in my business.” Because you have to know, right? It’s cool and awesome. You know what expense is because it all comes out of that PayPal account. You might want to also have a credit card just for the business if you wanted to pay for things that are not through PayPal in case they would not take PayPal. A lot of people do, you might be able to get away with it. And if your business isn’t an LLC or corporation, it may mean that you just have a personal credit card that you only use for your business. You don’t put anything else on it. It’s one card that you only use for business. Then you’re going to be able to track all that stuff. You can just save all the receipts in a shoe box if you need to, or there’s all kinds of programs you can scam, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.

It makes it so much easier, though, if you have all the money there and you know you’re going to come up is you know what your expenses are. Then, the last part about this, the last financial boundary, is paying yourself before you spend money on personal stuff. If you’re an LLC or corporation, you definitely have to pay yourself. If you’re paying taxes as an X corporation which could be either an LLC or a corporation, yes, that’s weird, then you’re going to probably be an employee of your company as well as directly giving distributions and things. If you’re just a sole proprietor or a partnership, you may not be an employee of the business, but I still highly recommend that you pay yourself before you go to the grocery store. You don’t use the business cards to buy groceries or buy a book or stuff at Amazon, or whatever. Could you? You could. But it’s a not a good boundary to set. There’s a whole of other financial boundaries you may decide to go with, too.

We can talk more about that in the discussion. But I highly recommend keeping track of your cash flow. I use “You Need A Budget,” ynab.com. It’s what I use right now to track the cash flow both for my personal life and for my business, which I track separately. You could do a thousand different software programs you can use: Mint and Quick Books and Quicken and all these different things. The important thing is to be specific about the rules that you set and to honor the fact that the business is something separate from you. To honor the fact that the financial decisions that you make for your business and, by the way, also in your personal life, they need to be conscious choices that are backed up by your values, by your purpose, by your mission, by your goals, by your priorities.

As opposed to being decisions that you make out of anxiety and decisions that you make in reaction to someone violating your boundaries. Your assignment today, because this is something that could be a gazillion different things. I get that this can be very overwhelming because of so many different things that you could work on. Your assignment today is to brainstorm a lot of the potential boundaries that you could draw here according to your values, according to your goals, according to things that work or don’t work in your life, and pick a few to focus on. First just brainstorm, depending on your judgment, and then go back and circle two, three, four, five at most of the boundaries that you’re going to really focus on as we create enforcement mechanisms and disclosure mechanisms moving forward.

Then next time, we’re going to talk about that, we’re going to talk about “Creating clear disclosures” when you set your boundaries with other people.

Thinking about getting an LLC or corporation? Check out EPW’s flat-fee Small Biz Startup Plans as a straightforward way to get your business set up right so you can move forward.

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