The MindFuel Entrepreneur Podcast

Episode 189: Amelia Kirk - How To Set Boundaries In Your Business So You Thrive


Do you set boundaries in your business, or do you find yourself in a constant state of unbalance? In this episode, I chat with coach Amelia Kirk on setting boundaries in our business and finding balance so that we thrive.

Amelia Kirk helps new and aspiring entrepreneurs to reframe their mindset so they can build a business that allows them to live a life they truly desire. Her mission to help other new and aspiring entrepreneurs transform their mindset so that they can build a business with balance at its core to allow them to create a life they love.

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It comes into this idea of people pleasing and perfectionism. We have to learn to say no and to get really clear on why we're saying no, because otherwise it becomes too easy to just cave in and go, okay. Yeah, I can do that time or I can do this. And especially as an entrepreneur, you think, oh, if I don't say yes to this person, I might never get another client.

Tell us more about your journey. Why did you make finding balance a priority?

Because I was left with no other option, and the fact that I was so unbalanced I was working in a completely different career. It was very stressful and fast paced, and that was the reason I didn't have any balance.

Through a lot of reflection myself, I was able to realize that I was responsible for not having balance in my life. And we can kind of blame all these outside things. But for me, it was about letting go of people pleasing, letting go of perfectionism, and allowing myself to put in those boundaries so that I could create that balance.

And I then ended up completely changing careers, changing everything, but that was the kind of nugget that started at all.

What were you doing previously?

So I've had quite a varied path. I originally was an actor and then I was in hospitality for a while, and then the last four years I was in the fitness industry. So I'm a qualified PT, but I actually worked with the management of high-end luxury health clubs.

So it was a lot of shift work, a lot of like dealing with quite difficult customers and members. So it was a fast paced, tough, stressful environment.

How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and a coach?

It was while I was in my previous work, I got to a point where I just needed to do some things. I had no balance at all and I decided to go traveling. I took a sabbatical, so I was going back into work.

I took a sabbatical, and when I came back I kind of realized, I don't want that next step. And I think so often we're working towards something and we're like, yes, once I get that, then I can start working on my own terms, then this will happen.

And I suddenly realized that next step... I didn't want it. And it may be saying, okay, I need to make a change then, because what is all of this before If I'm not even wanting to kind of get to that next place.

And I realized that while I was away, what I missed was the people. And not specifically my colleagues because actually a lot of the people I was close to with had moved on by that point. But it was the idea of working and developing people and helping them grow.

And as a leader and manager within that environment, I'd actually been doing a lot of coaching. I just didn't know that that's what it was.

So I was looking into HR. I thought maybe I'd make a shift in that way. And I realized again, if I really wanted to create this balance and have this life that I wanted, I wanted to really do it on my own terms. I do believe you can create balance within a corporate environment, but that wasn't what I wanted to do anymore. So then I found coaching and it just ticked all of the boxes.

What does a balanced life and a balanced business look like to you?

I think firstly, it's letting go in some ways of the thought that balanced means everything has to be equal, because I think we then put all of this pressure on ourselves to be like, right. I need to spend the same amount of time in my work as my personal life, and I need to spend the same amount of time with this group of friends, with that group of friends.

And actually I think it's understanding that there will be times where something needs more of your energy and focus, but because you can make that choice rather than feeling like it's something you have to do, then actually it allows you to kind of work from a place of balance.

Even if you know that day you've worked longer than another day, sort of thing. So I think firstly recognizing that it doesn't all have to be equal. And then it comes into this idea of people pleasing and perfectionism.

We have to learn to say no and to get really clear on why we're saying no, because otherwise it becomes too easy to just cave in and go, okay. Yeah, I can do that time or I can do this.

And especially as an entrepreneur, you think, oh, if I don't say yes to this person, I might never get another client. Or I have to do this, I'm working for them. We feel that we have to fit into somebody else's needs. And actually it's a relationship, you set your boundaries and you have to find the right people that will work within those boundaries as well.

Are there deeper types of boundaries that a lot of entrepreneurs don't realize exist?

It's just getting clear on where you are overstepping your boundaries will allow you to see what are the ones that you need.

Actually, this is something I read in "Untamed" - Glennon Doyle's book, which I found so useful. She said, notice your anger because when you feel angry, it's often because a boundary has been crossed.

So whether that be may be you have a guest and they're 15 minutes late, and actually you suddenly realize that that time-keeping is a really important boundary for you.

But what I would also say, which I think I struggled with in the past, is recognizing that anger will show up differently for different people. For me, anger shows up as tears. 100%. I know that for me now.

So rather than being like, well, I wasn't ranting and raving, so maybe I wasn't angry. That's not how anger shows up for me. So start to notice how anger shows up and then you can see where potentially those boundaries have been crossed, where you might need to strengthen them.

What's your biggest tip when it comes to setting boundaries with existing clients? It's often really difficult to set those boundaries with people you have not been setting boundaries with for years.

Firstly, start small because it is difficult. You don't need to suddenly jump like all in and change everything.

You might feel you are able to do that. And if you do, great, that's great for you, but not everyone will.

And one thing I recommend when I say start small, I mean really small. So that it's just a tiny step. And then again, that will feel comfortable and then you keep pushing it.

So it might be as an entrepreneur that you need to start this in your personal life first and then you can translate it over.

And one of the things, and it's a weird example, but I always use it when we're all in these multitude of WhatsApp groups where things are going off and you feel the need to say, oh cool. Yeah. Oh, amazing. Thanks for sharing that.

Just stop doing some of those things because that's where you're kind of trying to people please. And actually, if you start putting in those tiny boundaries, it will help you get into the habit.

So one thing I've said, especially in lock down, everyone's like, oh, you've got to watch this program and you must read this book and that's great.

And please keep recommending things, because I do love it, but to be able to say, thank you. That doesn't really sound like something I want to watch or whatever it might be.

So you'll just gradually starting to put those things in. And when it is something with existing clients, firstly, this is why you're going to start it so that you don't end up in that situation in the first place.

A lot of people I work with are new entrepreneurs, people that are maybe in that first year of business and have realized if I haven't put these things in place, just start, but start small.

Also be honest and be transparent, I think we feel the need to pretend that we're not human and that we need to show, and this comes into the perfectionism. I need to show that I'm fully capable of dealing with anything that this client have thrown at me.

But you're also a human, and you're allowed to say, I know that this is how we worked in the past. But actually, I realized for me to work at my best, this needs to stop or whatever it might be.

And I had it with a client once where they'd have to swap their session last minute, and we ended up doing a session on a Sunday and it was when I was still working full-time, so I was a bit more limited with when I could offer a session.

And I said, okay, that's fine. As a one-off, we'll do Sunday. And then she tried to put her next session in on that the same day. And I just said, and I knew I had to put that boundary that was a one-off because we had to rearrange it last minute. I don't work on the weekends.

And that's fine and as long as you just have to stop and start small, so it might even be that you go, look, I will this time, but please know, now this is the absolute last time.

Also one thing I would say that I think helps people remember that if you say something and then don't do it, you're showing that your word doesn't mean anything. And actually for our clients, that's important. Our word must mean something. So we need to set that example that if I say something, I mean it.

The biggest fear a lot of people have is when they set boundaries, they lose money. They lose clients. What would be your biggest advice around that?

Come at it from that holistic approach of balance. So if you want to have a balanced life and a balanced business or career, you might not earn the millions that you could have done if you're willing to work every single hour of the day.

And actually I am completely fine with that because that is not my driving value. And if it is your driving value, again, no judgment, that's fine, but you'll probably not going to be able to necessarily find the same level of balance, or at least not to a stage until you can delegate a lot of that.

So I think that just comes a point where you just have to decide for you, what's the most important? And everybody's different.

I think the biggest thing to me is recognizing that success means something different. To me now, success means running a business that has balanced at its core. And also balanced means I have to also be able to earn money because that's not balanced otherwise.

So it's finding that fine line for you and accepting that if having a huge amount of money is more important than having any balance, that's okay. But there might come a stage where suddenly you hit that now, and then you can't earn that money.

So I think it's just noticing what's most important to you. There might be times where it means that you lose out on a client, but you're making space for the client that's going to be right for you.

What are some examples of people pleasing, and how do we overcome people pleasing?

I think one of the biggest ones is we just say yes to things that we don't have time to do or don't want to do.

So either we say yes to clients that we don't really want to work with. So you start pushing your own boundaries, you're trying to please the person.

And I think that's one of the biggest things is just saying yes to timings as well. I know I'm strict with what times I am available for clients. I need Fridays off to have solid chunks of time without interruption. I can't get things done otherwise. And I need days where I'm working on my business, not just in it.

And if I just say yes, okay, we can do a callback time this week. It doesn't allow me to. So just notice when you're constantly prioritizing your client's needs above yours, because actually they chose to work with you because of who you are and what you stand for.

I think in some ways, I have that easier because I talk so much about balance. It'd be like, I can't do that while I'm trying to teach you how to do this. So that does become a little bit easier.

I'd say one of the biggest tips and something I talk about a lot and it's a little controversial, but we always like a bit of controversy, is if we can get our heads around the fact that people pleasing is actually selfish, it becomes easier to start to let go of it.

And what I mean that, and please feel free to disagree with me as well, but what I mean is that is when we're people pleasing... and I mean, people pleasing, not just doing something for somebody else because there's different things... We are doing it because of a need within ourselves.

So I need this client. I don't want to lose this client. It's actually driven from things for yourself. I want this client to like me. I want them to recommend me.

Whereas if we can let go of people pleasing because I've been able to prioritize my own needs, I'm now in a place where I can do something for you because I want to. I know where my boundaries are, and I'm happy to make an exception or whatever it might be, but you're able to come at it from a completely different place.

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