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Boundaries in Business: I don't wanna wear that hot dog costume

I have a problem saying no.

I don't know if it's because I'm a woman, I'm a business owner, I was raised by Southern parents who always instructed me to say, "Yes ma'am," or if it's just the way I am.

I suspect it's a combination of all of them.

In my personal life, saying no was an issue until I hit my forties; then I embraced that word like it was my new best friend. I no longer found myself watching other people's children, being the only parent who drove everyone around, supplying dinner for people who never reciprocated, and dealing with people who did nothing but suck out every ounce of energy I have.

In's been a little harder.

Just say no.

Part of it is that it's my own business and I've been building it completely on my own. So, when I started out and someone asked, "Can you do this?" my first instinct was to immediately reply, "Of course!" so that I could get a paycheck.

This quickly landed me in situations I didn't want to be in and I learned that, when you work in marketing, people will ask you to do everything from direct mail campaigns to standing on the corner wearing a hot dog costume and twirling a sign.

Well, maybe not exactly that. But you get my drift.

So, I figured out that I better know my own niche and know it cold so that when someone asks me, "Hey! Can you plan an event for 2,000 people?" I can confidently reply, "No, that's not in my scope of work" - otherwise I might find myself passing out appetizers at the zoo.

You can't do everything and do everything well.

But I still fall into the trap - that's because I'm a fixer. The biggest thing that makes me uncomfortable is the discomfort of others, something that's gotten me into messes before. So, when someone is in a bind, I don't take a beat before I volunteer - I just want to jump in and help.

Inevitably I'll figure out (about 2 weeks into the commitment) that I had no business offering my services and while the other person is usually grateful for my assistance, I'm annoyed with myself for committing to it in first place.

The only solution I can figure out is to find people who do the work I don't want to do - or that I know someone can do better. I can't stop the "fixer" in me; I know better than that. But I can find good referral partners so that when someone asks me to strap on that hot dog costume I can say, "I'm sorry. I don't do that. But Jonathon looks great in in a bun."

Then they're taken care of and I'm not doing something that will make me bitter later on. The bonus is that someone else might be getting business and then refer to me in the future.

I relish those opportunities.

Sorry. I couldn't help it.

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