Something many of us struggle with at some point in our business journey is how to have healthy boundaries in your coaching business. Not just in our businesses, but boundary issues can come up in our day to day lives too.
I like to think of boundaries as the supportive structure that protects our energy, like a glass of water, without the glass, the water is going to just spill all over the place – boundaries are like the glass!
Boundaries are so important when it comes to thriving as a coach. This post is just a toe dip into the whole topic of boundaries but I hope it will be a good place to help you get started if you feel like having healthy boundaries in your coaching business is something you want to improve.
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Why do we need boundaries in our coaching business?
There’s several reasons why we need healthy boundaries in our coaching business. Firstly, because we need boundaries in lots of areas of life in general if we want to thrive. But even more so in a coaching business because of the nature of the work we do.
Boundaries help us protect our energy, they help us show up for our clients, we can also model healthy boundaries for our clients.
Allowing a client to push against our boundaries and walk all over us isn’t actually going to help them in the long run!
Boundaries are also really helpful when it comes to being able to scale your business, having more impact and making more money. If your energy is leaking all over the place, scaling is going to be so much harder to do.
What happens when you don’t have healthy boundaries in your coaching business?
When you don’t have healthy boundaries in your business it can lead to several different outcomes.
What I usually see in myself and clients is feelings of resentment – that’s definitely a red flag that needs some attention if you’re feeling that way.
You can feel energetically drained – without boundaries it’s like your energy is spilling everywhere, there’s no container for it without the boundaries.
Other feelings that can come up are overwhelm and anxiousness. It’s easy to feel triggered too.
The implications of feeling like this can mean that we no longer enjoy our work, we have more business wobbles and we might even feel like we want to quit our business.
The good news is, getting better boundaries can help alleviate all of these feelings.
Why do some of us struggle with boundaries
It’s really interesting to explore why some of us struggle to set boundaries, without there being any blame or anything ‘wrong’ with someone who struggles. There’a a lot of valid reasons why this stuff is hard!
As women especially, there’s societal norms that can make having boundaries hard. Maybe it’s that you have people pleasing tendencies, feeling like you want to be ‘the good girl’ and worried that if you have boundaries in place you’re a bitch or a diva.
Sometimes we might worry that we’re being selfish or unreasonable by having boundaries in place. Perhaps we are conflict avoidant.
I have also seen a lack of boundaries link into having a lack mentality, especially with coaches. For me it was saying yes to seeing people at all hours and working with clients who were the wrong fit because deep down my feelings of lack meant I didn’t think any more clients would come along so I’d bend over backwards to serve them, feeling resentful and drained in the process.
It can be really interesting to explore some of these themes if boundaries are something you struggle with. Just bear in mind that there can be links to trauma you may have experienced in the past and you may wish to work with someone who specialised in that if you suspect it’s part of a wider issue.
Where do we need to apply boundaries?
The easy way to find out where you might need to apply a boundary or review what’s going on for you is to look at the places in your life and business where you feel resentful, energetically drained or unhappy / stressed out. These are usually a sign that something around your values might be getting triggered as well.
If you’re feeling that way it’s a pretty good indication that you could do with creating a boundary to help you manage your energy in that area.
There’s lots of areas where we can need to create and apply boundaries in our businesses, here’s just a few of the main ones:
With clients – this is probably the biggest area where our boundaries might get pushed! Also customers who are buying our digital products and how we work with these people in our businesses.
This might be how, when and where we’re available for people. One of my boundaries is that I (99% of the time) will only see clients on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and not on an evening. I find working on other days and after the kids bedtimes super draining so I decided I just wouldn’t do it! If a client really can’t fit in I do try and be flexible but this is a boundary I hold quite firmly because I know how much it impacts how I feel.
You might also want to explore boundaries around how people can contact you. I love Voxer for voice note support, but I have the notifications switched off so I don’t feel like I’m constantly being bombarded with messages. I simply check in with the app in the same way I would do with email.
Another element of boundaries with clients and customers may be in how you apply your terms and conditions and any other policies you might have in place to protect your energy. We’ll get on to communication and how important that is in just a sec!
On Social media – whether it’s with the people we interact with on social media or how we use it ourselves, social media can present a lot of challenges for our boundaries.
Maybe it’s people in your DMs taking the piss and asking a bunch of questions or people leaving unhelpful comments. Perhaps it’s another coach fishing for clients in your Facebook group. Whatever it might be, it can be good to apply some boundaries in this area. Maybe it’s kicking that coach out of your group because they’ve broken your group rules or sending a message to that person DMing you inviting them to book a paid call if they’d like any more support.
With Ourselves – having boundaries with ourselves when it comes to our actions and behaviours can be one of the trickiest areas to explore. Sometimes we need to do something differently or stop doing something but we get in our own way!
For me this is often things like checking emails in the evening or first thing when I wake up when I know it doesn’t make me feel good. Maybe it’s spending too much time scrolling on social media or checking out other coaches accounts which leaves you feeling like shit.
Boundaries with ourselves can be so hard to apply, so it’s worth remembering why we feel like we need them in the first place – because without the boundary we’re not going to be feeling good.
Communicating your boundaries
The biggest aha moment I had with boundaries was that communicating them made everything much easier. For me, the areas where I struggle with boundaries tend to be because I feel like people have an expectation on me. When I clearly communicate a boundary, that alleviates that feeling of expectation because I know that everyone knows when and how I’ll respond to them or how I’m available.
Ideas for communicating your boundaries:
Having an email auto responder – a simple autoresponder that reminds people when your working hours are and how long you might take to respond can help you manage how you show up around your email and when you answer people. It can also tell people when you may not respond at all, for example if you get emails about things that you know you wouldn’t be interested in.
Having clear terms and conditions and policies – make sure that you have clear policies around clients cancelling sessions at short notice, missing payments, requesting refunds etc so that it’s all laid out and clear for everyone. You might also want to be clear how and when you can be contacted for support between sessions and when you will respond / time scales etc.
Using an online scheduler – I love using an online scheduler for my clients to book in. It’s automatically set to my desired availability and when it’s presented in this way people are usually very happy to find a slot when there is one.
Things to remember
I know that a lot of this boundary stuff can make you feel like a bitch / diva, like you’re being unreasonable, but honestly, whatever it is that you need to thrive, you’re entitled to create a boundary to support that as long as you’re not being discriminatory. Obviously there might be a balance to explore around viability and your business – you do have to be available to see clients at some time!
Remember that just because you’re a coach doesn’t mean you have to be available for everyone elses shit, sometimes you just have to put your big girl pants on and get that boundary in place and communicate it clearly. Communicating clearly doesn’t have to mean being apologetic OR unkind, it just needs to be clear.
Like I said at the start of the post, this is just a toe dip into the whole realm of boundaries in your coaching business as I feel like this is a huge topic!
But I’d love to know, what are your experiences of boundaries? Do you feel like you have healthy boundaries or do they need a little more work? Let me know in the comments!
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