How To Be A Girl Boss  /  

Feb 23, 2010

PR Tips 101: Saying No and Creating Boundaries in Your Business

Creating boundaries in your business is imperative to mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and also social health.  It’s something I am working on everyday. We are in a service based industry and when we love what we do so much it becomes so easy for us to give and give and somewhere along the way we lose a bit of ourselves. I had a conversation with one of my favorite photographers about his workshops and how sometimes he and others he works with give too much. Is that bad to say?  NO. Its important to admit. How can we say: “No, I’m so sorry I cant help you with that or my schedule is booked, I can’t take that on.”? Some people have no problem asking the world of you, but if you continue to let them, well you can’t blame them. One word: PRACTICE.  To me it seems like a new exercise.  Something we have to do quite a few times before we get over the soreness and we have it mastered.

Do you say yes too much?  “Yes” to 100 emails until 11pm at night?  “Yes” to Twitter all day long (and yes some of you clearly do almost nothing else but twitter) I realized I said “Yes” to scheduling more meetings and appearances, coachings, and travel then I probably should.

I think we all give a little too much here and there and sometimes not enough to the people and relationships that mean the most.  Don’t answer that email after business hours!  It can make you too available. Make a plan to shut it down so you can ramp back up. Sometimes it feels like we are on auto pilot and we never rest enough to be fully recharged.

We need to put ourselves, families, faith, and friends first. Clients and Brides second.  When you are centered and take care of you first, then you are able to say “Yes” and take care of them. Right?

Photo by Elizabeth Messina

*This original post was originally published on February 23, 2010.
  • leila, so perfect. sometimes it is hard to say no to more money! but you have to know where your boundaries and limits are. you also have to know when something does not suit you. say no when something is a wrong match for you. i have to say no to brides when we i see we are not a good match. when you can say no to these things- it really keeps you loving what you are doing! i have found i dont get burned out so quickly. -thanks again for the great tip.

  • Phoebe

    YES! this goes right along with your slasher post! We have to stop spreading ourselves too thin!

  • I agree it gets very hard to say no. You’re afraid to say to a customer in fear they will get upset you can’t help them out. I too am learning to say NO and create boundaries. Thanks for reminding us, we all need to take time for ourselves.

  • this is such an incredibly true statement, and hits home to us. we are learning these principals as well, and saying no can be hard, but necessary to continue to build and grow and stay true to what we’re trying to achieve in business, and in life. Thank you!

  • love this post. i am continually trying to get better at keeping my boundaries in check. thanks for all the tips!

  • Tony (Leila’s fiance)

    Hooray! Thank you for writing this post Leila. I love you and I support you in everything that you do. I know it’s easy to give so much when there are so many things asked of you, and I so much appreciate your self awareness and your ability to always”right the ship” when life starts to take us off course.

    I have always said that there is an “opportunity cost” to every decision that we make and when people decide to make their work the constant focus of their lives they are often times paying a much greater price by sacrificing their personal or their family’s well being.

  • Leila – great post and always at the most perfect timing. I’m starting to think your writing directly to me these days! I finally made some big changes to change my own oppourtunity costs and am now realizing just how amazing my loved ones and friends truly always have been but I was too busy working to always notice!

    And to Tony – super sweet of you to comment back! I think your both very lucky to have found one another and a true balance between give and take to realize both your dreams!

  • Leila,
    Thank you for your post, on a day where this was much needed. No is not a word I use often, and isn’t one I use at the studio. I read your post several times for it to sink in. Today I actually said no to a client and have beat myself up over it, and your post was just what I needed. Going home to spend time with my family right now. Thanks to Missy Antonia Christianson (Events) for pointing me to your post this evening. It is hard when you Love what you do and want to share everything to say no.

  • steph

    Iwork with a wedding planner who doesn’t give to herself enough. its hard to watch and im going to pass this along to her!
    thank you 🙂

  • You have truly made me stop and think, I am currently trying to find a balance between my work and my home life – your post has given me the extra push I needed to have the confidence to say no and take some more time for myself and my husband… Thank you!

  • HEY! I resemble that Twitter remark. *smile* However, it’s like my office buddy since my crew works remote.

    However, I have QUIT answering emails after hours. Or answering a telephone call (got one last night at 7pm from a DJ who is a friend, but I knew he was just calling to chat. I was standing there talking to my husband and the phone rang. And I didn’t answer it). So important to know your priorities.

    GREAT post, with exception to the twitter dig …. snort.

  • So well said and so important for every small business owner to remember, since running a business can be so much a part of the person, it can be hard to separate. Thanks again for the post, and letting myself, and all the other’s out there like me, know we’re not alone in the struggle to put what’s most important at the top of the priority list.

  • Hello, my name is Sharon…I’m a Twitter addict!
    Lately, I’ve been answering emails on our closed days/times because I felt it was needed, but thank you for putting it back into perspective.
    That fiance is, definitely, a keeper!!!

  • Great tips…I’ve been working on this for myself! Love how you just put it out there for us to think about. Yes, we all need to know our own priorities!

  • Love the post Leila! So true! One thing I always put first, and do for myself, is my morning workouts. I won’t schedule meetings during my favorite classes, even if it means having to meet with a bride or a vendor on a different day. My workouts are important to me…not saying that my brides, vendors, and meetings aren’t as important to me but I am much better in my meetings and work day if I’ve gotten my workout in. But doing for myself and setting boundaries has pretty much stopped there for me. I am definitely one of those people that checks emails, twitter, facebook, etc… past office hours. Last Friday night I made it a point to turn my phone and computer off and to enjoy a relaxing date night with my husband…it felt so great to unplug for a night! Thanks for the tips, and for this post that really hit home for me, and small business owners everywhere 🙂

  • Wonderful and wise words that are right at the heart of what I am working towards achieving this year.

    Thank you for sharing x

  • Oh, did I ever learn this the hard way! I had clients calling me on sunday mornings, freaking out if I had not responded to an email 15 hours after they sent it and I had meetings set up on my “days off” because the client requested it. I had let things get that way. I was burnt out. My family was not getting what they needed and I was not getting what I needed. I have come to realize that I HAVE to have a day off. No email, no answering business calls. Just family time and me time. I am a better wife, mom and wedding planner when I have that time.

    I am really working on only checking email during office hours, which- for me- are when my son is napping or when I have a sitter over. It is really hard having email on my phone, but I am working on becoming much more disciplined. And, you know what? My clients respect that I have boundaries and that I am a mom and wife outside of my job. It is so freeing, but also so hard to continue saying no when I need to and to balance everything.

  • I am still learning to say “NO!” in the nicest way possible. When you spread yourself too thin, then you begin to lose what your clients love about your work, the quality. I pride myself in limiting the number of weddings I book each year so that I can rest assured that my clients along with my family will have the best of me…only then can you succeed.

  • Leila I love this post!!

  • Great post! I learned to do this last year. My current task is not checking emails AT ALL until email checking time (10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.). I find when I open them before time I forget to respond because they don’t show as new anymore. Working on that.

    So many people need to hear this. I hope you have 100,000 readers to this post alone. And then they retweet it.

  • Nikki

    Yes, so true!! Now that work is so accessible (phone, computer, etc) it’s so much harder to leave behind! It definitely takes a conscious effort… thanks for the reminder!

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