You are either in the first phases of developing your business/practice or you are a seasoned, experienced professional in your field.
Maybe you're somewhere in between. Regardless, this article is for you.
You are a heart-based business owner. This means you truly desire to be of service to humanity and you come from your heart in all that you do. For you, it is probably your nature to give freely to others. You love to help! You love to provide others what they need!
If you are just starting out, your funds may be tight. You need help, training, support and you may be looking for other heart-based professionals to freely give of their time and resources to help you.
If you are seasoned and successful, you remember what it was like to be just starting out with tight funds so your heart bleeds for the newbies. You are finding, however, that you feel uncomfortable with all the requests from those newer to the field to pick your brain over coffee and you're not sure why you feel this discomfort. After all, you are generous of spirit.
But here's the rub. We all have to pay our dues. We all have to go through the process of paying MONEY for training, professional consultation, business coaching, programs, workshops, certifications, membership fees, etc. We all have to put in our TIME to learn, grow and develop. We all have to put forth a lot of ENERGY to cultivate our businesses.
When we are not in balance, it feels uncomfortable. We want to give generously but if we over-extend it begins to take away money, time and energy we need for ourselves.
We, as heart-based business owners, have to know when to give freely and when to set boundaries whether with clients, potential clients or other professionals.
Here are some valuable tips for how to balance generosity of spirit with professional boundaries.
- If you are a newly developing business owner, do not try to pick the brains of more seasoned professionals without offering to hire them for a consultation. Please be respectful of the amount of money, time and energy your "elders" have invested. Request to schedule a consultation and prepare to pay for their time and resources.
- If you are a newbie business owner and funds are super tight, seek out social media groups on Linked-in and Facebook where you can connect with others in your field of work who may offer up free suggestions and tips but don't hunt people down and ask for it for free.
- If your business is fairly new use the good-ole-google tool and research your questions, read blogs, read articles, study the experts from your laptop. Don't swipe someone else's content, of course. Just take the time to dig and research and observe as you develop your own business savvy.
- If you are a new coach or therapist, it may be tempting to give your services away when people come to you for help and say they have no money. Honor yourself and set a boundary. Offer a designated number of slots as pro-bono to honor you bleeding heart but don't go beyond that number. And when those slots are filled be prepared to tell people: "I am sorry but my free/reduced fee slots are all full right now." And don't budge on this. If they need help right away, provide referrals for resource that offers free services.
- If you are an experienced and seasoned expert in your field you may notice you get a lot of emails, messages or calls from well meaning new business owners wanting to pick your brain. Be prepared to set a boundary. When they offer to bring you coffee or meet you for coffee to get to know you, you can reply very warmly with, "Hey! So nice to hear from you! I wish I could but my schedule is so full right now with clients and consultees I can't meet for coffee. I can, however, schedule a business consultation session with you if you are interested in consulting with me."
- If you are a seasoned professional, offer one or two free products on your website but also develop more in-depth products or programs for purchase. You've worked hard to get to where you are professionally and you deserve to be compensated for your expertise.
It's important to honor yourself and honor your colleagues. When someone does extend help, information, support with no strings attached, it's important to express sincere gratitude and perhaps return the favor by providing a heart-felt testimonial or offer to return the favor in the future.
I have been noticing with the explosion of online business building with so many free offerings for list-building purposes that there has developed a culture of entitlement syndrome among some of the newer wave of business builders. As heart-based entrepreneurs we have to be very careful. It is important to be kind, generous and gracious but also to set firm, clear boundaries and to respect the boundaries of others also.