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The art of setting limits

One of the main reasons that you (and everyone else) are at risk of being burnt out, is the inability to set limits. Most of us want to satisfy everyone. We don't dare say no to a customer. We say yes, even though we don't have time. Do you recognize this behavior?

Here are the tips you need to learn to set boundaries:

1. Be clear about what you must do and what you don't have to do
I don't mean that you must start saying no when customers want something extra. It's when customers want something that will take much more time or energy from you that it's time to say no. If you can let someone else take care of what you can't - good - but don't say yes to things that you just know will become a big headache.

2. Be clear to show when you are available
I know, it's hard because you probably work all the time, but it's important that you also get time for rest because you're not going to be a good business man/woman if you will get washed-up because you always want to please everyone.

3. Have clear payment terms.
Don't let anyone take advantage of you because you have a small business. Always be clear about your terms before accepting a job, it makes it easier for you to handle any problems later.

4. You decide on your daily schedule, no one else
If you find that you are working later hours, all because your customers have been accustomed to it and know that they can call anytime, you're working yourself close to
exhaustion. Tell your customers how much time you're prepared to spend on an assignment and when you sign the contract – keep your deadline. Never deliver anything before that date even if you're ready because the customer will stall their own decisions once they've learned that you work quickly.

5. Learn to say no
It's a useful exercise and not as dangerous as you think. If someone asks for the impossible, say no and explain kindly why.

Everything boils down to this: if you have clear boundaries for your business, your customers will respect your time more. This is obviously a balancing act. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and work late because you believe that it's important and fruitful for the future of the company.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.