If a couple spent every minute of every day together, would you see their relationship as healthy? If a husband and wife had no separate hobbies and refused to attend any social gathering if their other half wasn’t included, would you applaud their commitment – or see it as a recipe for disaster?
Most of us accept that to have a long-term, sustainable relationship, a couple needs to give each other time and space – or how can the heart grow fonder?
The problem is that many entrepreneurs – including myself at times – don’t apply the same boundaries to our business. In the throes of passion, we morph into overcommitted, over-attached founders whose entire lives revolve around the office.
Although keenness is key for success, it can also land you in dangerous territory if you over-dedicate. If you display any of these warning signs, it could be time to set boundaries.
Your employees and even your clients will thank you for it.
1. You’re over promising to clients
In the first flush of a business, it can be such a relief to have a client that we start to exaggerate our abilities. “Of course we can do it in five days? We thrive on tight deadlines.”
Cue four sleepless, sobbing nights and a below-par end product.
Even though you want to impress, be careful of setting unrealistic expectations as it will set a precedent that clients will always expect. Instead, be honest about your abilities and nobody will be disappointed later.
2. You’re preaching
Excitable entrepreneurs can’t wait to tell people about the plans they have in the pipeline (and it’s all part of networking), but don’t fall into the trap of hijacking every conversation to preach about your product or service.
A conversation is still beneficial even if your company isn’t name-dropped. When you stop talking and start listening you might discover the person you’re in conversation with has an equally innovative project that you can collaborate on.
3. You’re stuck on an outcome
Every entrepreneur knows the best-laid plans can go out the window – and it’s not a bad thing.
My most game-changing deals have been totally unexpected and taken my business in a direction I never dreamed of. While it’s good to have a mission statement and vision to keep your brand consistent, don’t worry too much about trying to predict the future.
Don’t be the woman who books her wedding day before finding a boyfriend – because aren’t surprises part of the wonder of life?
4. Your team is emailing at midnight
Overcommitted bosses create overcommitted team members because they set the precedent. If you’re sending emails at midnight there is a huge pressure on employees to reply immediately – and they’re not going to be happy about it.
If you are the type of person who needs to act as soon as a brainwave comes – even if it’s 3:00am – then send an email but add a ‘p.s’ saying you really don’t expect a reply until business hours.
When hiring new recruits avoid describing yourself as a ‘workaholic’ or repeatedly using the phrase ‘I’m so busy’. You probably are both these things, but don’t promote a culture around it.
5. You don’t ebb and flow
The most important lesson I’ve learnt over 14 years in business is there will be times when you do work practically 24/7, when you are totally absorbed in your mission with no time for anything else.
It is necessary sometimes to knuckle down to nail an important project. But this should be a short-time strategy with a specific end point, rather than a long-term habit.
Then hopefully, long after your business’ honeymoon period, you’ll still be in love with what you do.