Boundary Setting for the Home-Based Small Business Owner
By Ann Zuccardy

First, let me just stomp my feet, throw my arms up (with tongue firmly planted in
cheek) and ask, "Why doesn't everyone in the world respect my boundaries?"

Haven't I made them abundantly clear with my bellowing voice and my assertive
demeanor? Yeah, I'm about as loud and scary as a ladybug!

Second, let me put my thoughts on the table. I believe that children who grow up
without boundaries given to them (structure, rules, consequences, and consistent adult
role models who display socially appropriate expressions of feelings), grow to be
adults who don't know how to create boundaries for themselves and don't respect
others' boundaries. I've been confronted with one of those adults lately and I suspect
it's my call to action to beef up my own focus on this topic.

Third (and the reason for this article), how the heck does this relate to running a

Well, that part is easy. A home-based without boundaries business in its infancy is
bound to become an unfocused business as it matures. I've learned a bit about
this...the hard way.

On the Personal Front

I am one of those people who goes to bed early and gets up early. So, I don't answer
the phone after 9 p.m. Everyone who knows me knows this is my rule. This is my
home and that's my rule. It's non-negotiable. Last night, the phone rang at 9:05, 9:30,
and again just around 10 (same person each time).

I have caller ID and knew the call was something that did not require immediate
attention. I felt my boundaries and my privacy had been violated. So what did I do?
I fumed and ranted about rude people until about 11:30. Yeah, that was really
productive. The solution which didn't occur to me at the time was to simply turn the
phone ringer off.

The point? I have no control over life's little interruptions. I have no control over
other's behavior. I am always at choice about my response. I forgot that last night.

From now on, my phone ringer is OFF after 9. I'll call you back at 4:30 a.m. when I
usually get up. Okay?

On the Home-Based Small Business Front

Okay, here's where it gets humbling. This morning as I reflected upon this issue,
I began to think about all the areas of my businesses where I am not being clear about
my boundaries and other areas where there's a bit of wiggle room. Am I raising a small
business that's growing up to be a unfocused adult with no respect for boundaries?

For me the non-negotiable boundary areas are as follows (do any of these sound
familiar?). I must:

Designate one day a week as a day of rest. No phone calls, no computer, no obsessive
checking of e-mail. I don't have to respond to every e-mail within two seconds of
receiving it.

Define work/personal areas in my house (a challenge for any home-based business).

Define and communicate the rules around others using my work space (e.g., desk,
computer, Palm Pilot).

Designate work hours and non-work hours and make this boundary clear to family
and friends.

Practice better self-care. How can I run a business if I'm not taking care of my basic
needs? What is the balance, for me, between utter laziness and frenzied workaholism?

Close the door, not answer the phone, not clean the toilet when I say I'm working on
my marketing plan.

What are your home business boundaries? Where are you feeling wishy-washy? Do
you REALLY need to be "on" all the time to make YOUR business a success or to be a
good parent/friend/spouse? Do you have to be perfect all the time?

I'd wager a big, fat NO. Have I been practicing what I preach? Another big, fat NO.
Here's to imperfection, life's little calls to action, and clear boundaries.

About the author: Ann Zuccardy, creative entrepreneur, food lover and owner of the Vermont
Shortbread Company, invites you to sample a taste of her buttery-rich, authentic Vermont
Shortbread. Place your online order for shortbread boxed fresh from the oven and shipped right to
your doorstep at
Vermont Shortbread.

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