Work-Life Boundaries For Business Owners – Interview with Mary Brown

boundaries for business owners

Client resentment and burnout are not supposed to be a part of owning a business. Many business owners think it’s just part of being an entrepreneur but it’s actually an indication that you have not set the right boundaries for yourself or your business.

Learn the value of setting boundaries for business owners and for yourself to help your business grow and thrive. Having boundaries will make you more profitable, love your clients and not burn out doing it. As Mary said you can make money the way you want to run your business the power is in setting boundaries for yourself.

Links Mentioned In This Episode 

Mary Brown – The Boundaries Coach 

Video Course- Boundaries 101 

Work-Life Boundaries Worksheet  

Podcast episodes, articles and books  mentioned in this episode

MMM article – Better customer relationships: A marketing analytics process

Book – Toxic Clients by Garret Sutton

Mary Brown earned her degree in Psychology from Emory University and advanced her career as a social worker. For over a decade, she served individuals and families who struggle with mental health, addictions, abusive relationships, and trauma.  She then moved her focus and practice after having gone through a boundary journey of her own and realizing how valuable this was to her and could be to other women.  She became a life coach to help women build confidence, set boundaries, and practice self-care. 

The women she works with go to her feeling defeated, taken advantage of, and exhausted. Throughout their coaching together, she helps them become confident, intentional and empowered.

What we discussed:

  • What is a boundary
  • The Importance of work-life boundaries
  • Overcoming the disease to please
  • What is customer service and what is customer satisfaction

Work-Life Boundaries For Business Owners – Interview with Mary Brown Transcript

*Not ready to give this episode a listen or watch just yet? Below is a rough transcript of today’s episode.*

Hi everybody. And welcome to Inkyma’s Marketing Strategies. And I have a treat for you today. I am interviewing Mary Brown and she is 

The Boundaries Coach. So if you’ve ever had trouble with personal work-client boundaries. I know I’ve had those myself where clients step over those bounds. She is the expert to talk to.

So Mary welcome to the podcast, the video cast before I let Mary loose and have her tell us all about her is we are gonna be talking about some really cool stuff today, folks. So definitely check out the show notes. We’re gonna have a link to all of Mary’s information, and she’s gonna tell us about this amazing new program that literally she is just launching for you guys.

Okay. So Mary, tell us about you and tell us what a boundaries coach does. 

Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here. Boundaries are my favorite thing to talk about. So I am so glad that I get to talk with you today, Audrey. So what does a boundaries coach do? That’s a good question.

I help people-pleasers, I help busy women to have better boundaries so that they can love their life and love their work and love their relationships. When we talk about boundaries, I think the first question that usually comes to mind is like what is boundaries and why do we need them?

So maybe we’ll start there. So the official definition of boundaries is. The limits and guidelines that you set for yourself that determine what you will and will not participate in. And my favorite definition is by a woman named Brene Brown, who you may have heard of. And she says, what’s okay for me.

And what’s not okay for me. And. I love that simple definition. And a couple of parts of the definition that I think are important to point out that there’s some myths out there around boundaries, like “I set the boundary and you have to follow it”. Or, “boundaries are what you’re not allowed to do.”

And that’s not true. Boundaries are not like thick walls that keep us in and other people out. When done correctly, boundaries are really just the guidelines that I set for myself. They’re for me. And they keep me in alignment with my values and they keep me sustainable. So the reason we need boundaries is because if we don’t have them.

There’s no sustainability. So nothing is sustainable without boundaries. I’m not sustainable without boundaries. No person is sustainable without boundaries. No business is sustainable without boundaries, no community, no family. What happens when we don’t have boundaries is we feel resentment. We burn out. And we end…we don’t reach our goals because we end the relationships that we have. We yeah, just end up feeling tons of frustration. Because we haven’t been intentional about deciding what we will and we won’t do. And the good news is that boundaries are a learned skill, so anyone can learn how to have boundaries wherever you’re at is totally okay.

Because you can move forward and be intentional and choose boundaries that will help you to reach your goals and to be sustainable. 

I agree so much when you started talking about ending relationships. When I network and talk to other business owners and I’ve been doing this a long time now, right?

12 years, I get rid of clients that just don’t work. But I always try to start my relationships with setting those boundaries. That way, when they cross them, it’s like, “Listen, You keep crossing my boundaries. And we can’t work together anymore.” But it took me a long, long time to get there. I’ve also found by setting those, I can save a relationship too.

Which means saving the income. Because a lot of business owners are afraid of getting rid of a client, cuz they’re afraid of losing the income. So do you ever have clients, people were, they’re afraid of letting go of a negative or a toxic client because maybe boundaries weren’t set in the beginning.

Yes, for sure. When we are deciding our boundaries, those are decisions that are best made individually. So as a business owner, I get to decide what I’m willing to do and what I’m not willing to do in my business. And I make those decisions independently. I don’t make those decisions with a client or with a contract.

I make those decision ahead of time. Like I get to decide who I work with, what kinds of people I serve and who I don’t serve independently as the business owner. And when I am thinking out of the frontal cortex, the best parts of my brain is when I wanna make those decisions, I don’t wanna negotiate my boundaries.

After they’ve been crossed or when I’m in communication with a person about it. I want do that work on my own and really be intentional about that. And work-life balance, we’re all looking for this work-life balance, but I actually think it’s BS. What we really need is work-life boundaries.

When we work, what our working hours are, who we serve. Who our clients are and are not. The services or products that we offer and the services and products we don’t offer. What our responsibilities are and what our responsibilities are not and how we compensate ourself. And all of those decisions are part of our work-life boundaries.

And those are the decisions that make our businesses successful and sustainable. 

Yeah, work life boundaries. I love that. I love that term so much, because you’re right. Balance… the work life balance, everybody thinks it’s oh, I get to get off early so I can hang out with my kids. And it’s so much more than that.

It’s how you interact with people during the day and you’re right. Sustainability is a big issue for entrepreneurs and business owners. That burnout is real. I’ve been to the edge of the cliff and back a few times in the last 12 years with my business. And it’s the boundaries. Not knowing that I was setting boundaries, but saying, no, this is what I will do.

And this is what I won’t do, for a client and with a client, is what brought me back from that precipice of just going that’s it, I’m done. And not just like, when you’re allowed to call me when you’re not allowed to call me, but what I will and won’t do, because sometimes people get so excited and they’re like, oh, will you do this too?

And I’m like, no, I can’t. That’s way outside my wheelhouse and I just don’t wanna focus on it. Sometimes, you’re like, no, that doesn’t appeal to me. And I think it’s okay to not…especially because you’re an entrepreneur…it’s okay to say no, that’s not something I’m gonna bring into my wheelhouse.

We’re gonna go help you find someone else to do something like that. So I think that’s great. All those things that you said. I think all of us as business owners, we absolutely need. And a lot don’t have it. A lot of my clients could use you. I get into those conversations with them and they’re like this and that.

And I’m like, Nope, you really need to say no to those things. And the reason I bring this up on Marketing Strategies is because, when I try to have those conversations about how to market a business, sometimes it gets pushed off to the side. They’re like I wanna grow, but I got this going on.

I’m like you gotta fix that first. So we can focus on these things. Because and a lot of the times it’s their issues with family, with other stuff going on, their boundaries. It’s I don’t have the time to focus on this. I’m like, And I think boundaries is the key for something like that.

Like when we met, I just got so excited. I’m like, there’s so many people out there that need you. Thank you. Of course. So let’s talk about your new course that you’re launching or technically will have launched by the time everybody’s hearing this. 

Yes, so I have been coaching for a few years. I do one on one coaching. I have a group coaching program that is From Resentment to Contentment. It’s a full transformation, six months where you go from being a people pleaser and busy burnout to really loving your life and having the skills to be able to communicate your boundaries.

And what I noticed was that there were…there was a need out there for people just to be able to have a one on one course. And so I created what’s called boundaries 101 and it includes three steps to boundary setting. Which is the same process that takes all of us every time, which is first we decide our boundaries and we learn to communicate our boundaries, and then we learn how to follow through.

And so that three step process, it gives videos of me teaching how to do that three step process. It has a downloadable workbook with a few worksheets that guide you through it. It also gives a bonus on work life boundaries. And so I really teach to the worksheet that I’ll provide to you for the show notes for today.

And it includes a one-on-one call with me. So wherever you get stuck or wherever you’re at in that journey to learning healthy boundaries, we can discuss. I can coach you through how to have a difficult conversation. I can coach you through how to create your work-life boundaries. I can coach you through, whatever part is gonna be most valuable to you in that one-on-one call.

And this Boundaries 101 course, I’m really excited about it because all of that is only $95. And so really it’s affordable and accessible to anyone who just wants to learn more about boundaries. 

And I love that because Brand new entrepreneurs, they don’t have a huge budget. So I think that $95 fits perfectly in for them. Plus that, or even your six months course for business owners, it’s, what’s the return on investment, right? And for something like this, where you can keep a client, get rid of a client, figure out how to make it all work. It’s gonna make you more profitable. I remember when I had coaching and still have coaching, I went from an income level, like here to 20 to 30% growth all from just the coaching.

Yeah, it paid for itself sevenfold. And I think your program, I think that $95 is a steal, especially for what you’re teaching. And I love the fact that it’s on demand. It’s video. People can need to digest things in their own time, in their own way and be able to rewatch it. So I think that’s amazing.

Yes, I’m excited for it. So tell me a little bit, like what got you into being a boundaries coach? Cause we know about business coaches. We know about life coaches, but you are the only boundaries coach I’ve ever met. And I think it’s amazing. So how’d you get into this. Yeah, thanks for asking. My professional background actually is in social work.

So I was a social work manager for about 12 years in the community that I live in. And I created a coaching program for the case workers that I was managing to help them with burnout and resiliency and self care. And what I noticed was that as a business, we were spending a lot of money and a lot of time, hiring and training the case workers because they didn’t have boundaries, because they didn’t have self care, because they were stressed out and they would leave. And so we created this coaching program to help them learn self care and learn to be resilient, to learn, to cope, to learn their work life balance.

And then we hired a bunch of coaches and I was I just gave away all the good parts of my jobs. Now I have to be an administrator and that’s not as fun. Never as much fun. . And I just had learned that like the reason why I was able to be sustainable is because I had boundaries at that point in my life because I had boundaries.

And so I decided then that really what I wanted to do was coach and I wanted to help people have confidence and I wanted to help people make intentional decisions. And I wanted them to… really my superpower is coaching people to have those hard conversations and to do it from a place of compassion so that it feels good to us.

And I tell people all the time, it really only. Three to five times. Three to five times you practice saying no. And you learn how to do it. Three to five times, you have the same conversation with the same person that you want to have a relationship with before they understand oh, She’s serious.

Like she’s really saying no this time and she’s gonna follow through. And so that process is available to everyone. But the real reason why I became a boundaries coach is because I grew up as a people pleaser and I have my own personal journey and struggle with overcoming that disease to please. And coming out on the other side, learning that skill personally and experiencing life as a people pleaser.

Versus experiencing life with boundaries. It really has just been so transformative myself. I grew up in this big, huge family with five boys and four girls and two parents and zero boundaries. And I mean zero boundaries. And so I became a people pleaser really early on and I learned to put other people’s needs first and I learned how to make other people happy.

And I was really good at putting other people’s needs first. And what I found was that I just had so much resentment for the people that I was helping, the people that I loved, even good people, even people that I loved, I started to build resentment for them because I was putting their needs before mine, every single time.

And I just couldn’t understand who was supposed to be taking care of me. And and so I learned that lesson the hard way and that I had to learn…ask myself like, really. What’s okay for me. And what’s not okay for me. And then once I decided, I tried to say it. And I sounded like a defiant teenager because I was like, you can’t talk to me like that anymore.

I didn’t have the professional tools to communicate it. And so that took me a while to figure out how to say I really appreciate our relationship and I want to continue to be able to help you. And, this is what I’m able to do, and this is what I’m not able to do. And moving forward, this is how I’d like us to continue.

Right? I didn’t know. I had no context for that communication style. And so once I learned that, then I was like, okay! I said it now they have to do it. Actually I get to follow through on my own boundaries, and practice that self care. And so it really was my own journey. In parallel with a professional journey that I became a coach. And I knew that my specific area of specialty would be boundaries because it’s what was needed. And it’s the skill set that I had. And there really is no other way to learn boundaries than on your own or with a coach. 

As you were talking, when you talk about resenting it really resonated because I sit down and, talk with other business owners and you start telling stories and you hear a lot of that resentment come through. Of resenting the client , and I think a lot of that is because they haven’t set boundaries and they’re people pleasers. A lot of business owners…they’re one of two kinds in my mind. It’s they’re the kind that are just trying to make money. And then they’re the others that wanna serve. And it’s the ones that wanna serve that really, like you said, don’t have the boundaries and then they start to resent the clients and then they don’t wanna be in business anymore. Because they feel like it’s not for them. And when in reality it’s very much for them. They just have to set those boundaries and figure out who they wanna work with.

And not everyone’s the perfect client for you. Sometimes that perfect client is for someone else because their boundaries are different. Me I don’t take phone calls at all hours of the day. That is one of my boundaries. I got a networking buddy and he loves picking up the phone when a client calls.

That’s his thing. And he tells everybody, call me whenever you want. I’m always gonna pick up the phone for you. And I’m like, oh, like that just makes my stomach go all weird. Like I’m on roller coaster. 

Yeah. The good news is that, you get to decide. Yeah. And that’s really my message is that you are valuable and you have a valuable service or product to offer and because you’re valuable, you get to decide what’s okay for you and what’s not okay for you.

And if you hear nothing else today, that’s my message. Is that you…you can make empowered decisions about what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do. And that’s a learned skill and that you can develop that skill. For some people it might be okay to have, maybe that’s part of your offer is that I have twenty-four-seven phone availability.

I wouldn’t choose that, but I don’t, I’m not gonna tell someone else what they should or shouldn’t do because I’m not in the business of shoulding on people. 

We don’t should on people in our business. I’m so with that. Cause it’s different for everybody. It really is. And I think a lot of new business owners out there think this is the only way I can run a successful business is if I take on that other person’s boundaries.

And it’s just not so. I love that, that’s like the power of the message. It’s like you set your boundaries to whatever works for you. There’s no industry standard on boundaries. 

And the other powerful message is you can do both. So when you referenced the business owners who want to make money versus business owners who want to serve.

The reality is that you can do both. And that’s the beauty of having boundaries, right? Is yes, I want to serve people. And yes, I want to make money. Like both of those are available. And people ask me sometimes okay, so do I have to choose between what I need and what this person needs?

And the answer is no, you can choose both. It is a hundred percent possible for me to take care of my needs and take care of your needs at the same time. It’s a hundred percent possible for me to show up for myself and my clients, at the same time, when I have intentional boundaries around it. So I don’t have to choose, am I gonna love me or am I gonna love you?

I can love both of us when I have developed the skill of having boundaries. Sometimes I think one of the struggles for business owners though, is that we get confused between what is customer service and what is customer satisfaction. So explain that because it’s really important. Yeah. So customer service is, did I provide my customer with the service that I agreed to provide them with.

And so if I say, I’m going to do this service, and this is the price and we have an agreement around it, then, did I provide that service, right? That’s the question for customer service. Customer satisfaction is how did my customer feel about the service that I provided for them? And that is entirely based on the customer’s own thoughts and feelings. Experience. Right?

Their perception, which, I, of course, want everyone that I serve to have a positive customer experience. I want those five-star reviews. We all do. Let’s just be honest. We all want our customers to have positive experiences with us. But I don’t have control over that because that is completely based on their feelings.

And so if I make my measurement of success, someone else’s feelings, I am setting myself up for a lot of people-pleasing and a lot of disappointment and eventually that resentment. Because the resentment kind of happens slowly and from the ground, like from the bottom up. And I need to be more in control of my customer service and not base my success on someone else’s feelings.

Agreed. And what else is interesting? I’ve done some articles and some other podcasts about how to improve…I call it customer service, but it’s really improving customer satisfaction with follow-up and that sort of thing. But I think another thing is if you set those boundaries early

You can actually influence customer satisfaction because they know what to expect. Half the time or more when someone is genuinely unsatisfied is because something didn’t happen as expected. And so that’s what I talk about is, if you say you’re gonna ship something within 48 hours, ship it within 48 hours. And ship them what they asked for, not something else. Unless someone’s trying to get over on you, which 99% of the time, they’re not, as long as you do what you say you’re going to do, which is a set of boundaries. They’re gonna be happy, right? Or if you do something positively unexpected that maybe you didn’t mention. But so I love that part of it.

With that whole five star review and how do I get that? You know what, setting boundaries is gonna help you get those five star reviews. I think. 

Yes, for sure. But I think that the reason why we want five star reviews, right? Let’s take a look at that. What’s my intention around that.

Is it from a place of people pleasing? Is it from a place of fear or scarcity or is it because I genuinely want to serve my clients. Because, I love the work that I do because I love helping people and I want them to get the result that they came for. And I want other people to know about this awesome, valuable service that I offer.

And I want…I believe that there are clients out there ready for me to serve them. And this is one way that they’re gonna be able to find me. Yeah. Like I think that the intention behind those reviews really does matter. And. We get to serve people with whatever intention we choose. And I choose to serve people from a place of love.

And I choose to believe that there are people out there who want what I have to offer and I’m just gonna help them find me that way. 

Absolutely. And you’re absolutely right when you’re, when your intention is to truly do the best you can for that client. The five-star reviews are effortless, they just come in and they flow. Even if they don’t put it on Google, like you want them to they’ll say it to you. How many times has someone said, oh my goodness, this is awesome. You’re wonderful. The other way I look at boundaries too, is that not only are they serving me. They’re helping me serve those people as well.

Cause if they know what I will and won’t do and they understand the expectation, they can make choices. Yes, you are someone I wanna work with because…I call it value alignment. Our values are aligned. I don’t work weekends or evenings either. So this is perfect for me. Or if they say, you know what, no, I need this.

I haven’t wasted their time. They can go find someone that aligns with their values better. So you’re actually helping and serving with setting your own boundaries. 

Yes. Yes. Because then I can show up from a place of love. And I can feel really good about our relationship, our working relationship with each other.

Yeah. Which I think is really important for sustainable business. So I’m very excited to see that your course come out. Believe it or not. I think we’ve run through our normal it’s. Listeners are used to like a 30-minute time. Perfect. But yeah, this was such an amazing conversation and there’s so many snippets I wanna pull out and just give to people like here, take this.

Do you have any final thoughts you wanna share before we wrap everything up? 

Yeah. I just wanna summarize that, we are born valuable, so we get to decide what our boundaries are. That is my message. And that work-life balance is BS, really what you need is work-life boundaries. And I created a little worksheet.

So you can be intentional about your thoughts around that, and I’ll share it with you, Audrey, so that you can get it out to folks. 

Absolutely. So that document is gonna be in the show notes. So go and take a look at them. They’ll link to Mary’s brand new course is also in the show notes and a couple of other resources that we’ll share with you.

Like other podcast episodes that I mentioned of course are always in the show notes. So Mary, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. This is a wonderful conversation. Yeah, you’re welcome. I love talking about boundaries, so I’m always happy to . We could talk all day long. So here’s my little ending spiel.

For those that have listened to other podcast episodes, here at Inkyma, we love to give back to the business community. We provide a 45-minute free consultation to talk about anything that you want to with marketing and growing your business. We also have a contact form on the website. And all of the podcast episodes are there with all of the show notes.

So go That’s I N K Y M A dot com, and all the podcasts have the full transcript in them. So if there’s something specific that you’re looking for, you can do that. And then we also have our marketing masterminds blog. So you go to marketing that’s, CO, and there are product recommendations, video tutorials really short videos to help you with certain specific things just so that you can market and grow your business the best way that you can. So thanks so much for listening and watching today and have an amazing day.

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