Setting boundaries, achieving breakthroughs

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Welcome back to Leader Talk! On episode 60 we spoke to the amazing Verity Hare, Founder and Director of TradieWives, a collaboration platform to support wives and partners of tradies.

Her journey started when she left her full-time job to help her husband run his trade business. As their business expanded, Verity found herself feeling isolated and in need of support. She started TradieWives, a group to help others in a similar situation, facilitating discussions and bouncing ideas off each other about helping their partners run a trades business.

In this chat we spoke about implementing boundaries, caring for your mental health and mutual support in relationships. 

Want to learn more? You can read or listen to our chat with Verity Hare on YouTubeSpotifyListen Notes, or Player FM. It’s also available anywhere you listen to your favourite podcasts via Buzzsprout.

Authored by Verity Hare, Founder and Director of TradieWives

Regardless of your job, industry, or phase in your career, people will always emphasise the importance of work-life balance. Finding a balance is crucial to avoid burnout and ensure long-term success, but it’s easier said than done, right? As business owners especially, we can be deeply passionate about our work, and it becomes even harder to establish a clear separation between professional and personal life. Even when you’re off the clock, you find yourself wanting to discuss the great work you’re doing or think about solutions to current issues in your business. How can you treat your business like your baby while still prioritising your personal life?

Recognising the need for boundaries
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a thriving business. I’ve seen many small business owners have an abundance of ideas and a desire to do everything at once. However, if you don’t give yourself a break in all of it or go at a realistic pace, you’ll only end up burning out and hindering your business’s growth.

First and foremost, you have to set realistic goals. Instead of juggling a dozen tasks simultaneously, picture yourself fully immersed in one task at a time. By focusing your energy on a single goal, you can maximise your productivity and efficiency, which brings the quality of your work up.

But here’s another crucial factor. In order for something or someone to perform at their best, they need time to recharge. Taking breaks is the secret weapon to maintaining the momentum of your business. Studies have shown that taking regular breaks not only rejuvenates the mind but also enhances creativity and problem-solving skills. So, it’s not about pushing through tasks; it’s about finding strategic moments of rest to recharge.

Creating a clear separation between personal and professional life requires conscious effort. I’ve found establishing physical boundaries, such as having a separate workspace outside your home, makes it easier to say no to work during personal time. Even something as simple as committing to having one dinner a week where you don’t talk about work is going to help you build those boundaries.

Establishing client boundaries
If you’re a business owner, you need to create and be strict with your own office hours. You may face situations where clients email or call you late at night or on weekends, but you are not obligated to respond at all hours of the day. You can choose to see the messages and address them later during your office hours. Many of us worry about disappointing or angering clients by enforcing boundaries, but some clients may actually appreciate and respect you more for doing so. Consistently demonstrating a commitment to work-life balance sends the message that you can prioritise and deliver high-quality work.

By maintaining these boundaries, we are also building a healthier and more sustainable work environment. If you respond to work-related matters outside of the normal nine to five, clients will think it’s acceptable to encroach upon our personal time and continue doing so. However, by keeping that boundary, your clients will understand that your personal time is valuable and will only contact you during work hours, which makes us less guilty about finding that work-life balance. Ultimately, staying true to your boundaries benefits not only your well-being but your relationships with clients and colleagues.

Caring for mental health
The trade industry is currently facing many challenges. Builders are struggling and experiencing financial losses, interest rates are rising, and people are becoming more uncertain about their futures. The difficulties not only impact the mental health of tradesmen but also place a disproportionate burden on women who support their tradie partners. There is still a stigma surrounding men discussing their feelings, leading women to shoulder the emotional weight and making family life even more challenging.

In such trying times, I am a strong advocate for finding a supportive community or a safe space. It’s important to have someone you can trust and be open, honest, and real with. I guarantee many others are going through similar challenges, and by voicing your concerns and sharing your experiences, you’ll discover this to be true.

The best advice I ever received was that when things get really tough and there seems to be no way out, remove yourself from the situation completely. Turn off your phone, don’t look at your emails, and take a short break, even if it’s just for a night or dinner. Sometimes, the best solutions come when we step away and give our minds a chance to clear. Taking intentional breaks from work, whether short getaways or quiet moments alone, can lead to fresh perspectives and solutions.

Mutual support in relationships
It’s hard to take time for yourself because people around you often mistake it for laziness or a lack of dedication. In my career, I often hear of women seeing their tradie partners engaging in leisure activities and wonder why they don’t contribute more to household responsibilities. It’s important to understand that this behaviour often stems from mental exhaustion. Everyone deserves a day on the couch watching TV or going out with friends to recharge sometimes. It’s not being unhelpful, but rather acknowledging the need to stop and take a break for their well-being.

In saying that, there needs to be a mutual understanding between both partners. Balancing work and personal life becomes more manageable when both partners actively contribute to the well-being of each other and the relationship. Open communication, understanding, and equal distribution of responsibilities are important here. Both partners need to acknowledge the challenges faced by one another and work together to get that healthy balance.

At TradieWives, we work through these issues every day, where people are eager to support their tradie spouses but don’t know where to begin. Having experienced this struggle firsthand, I know what it’s like. I wanted to help my husband’s landscaping business grow but I didn’t know the specifics on how. From learning how to quote landscaping jobs to navigating tax obligations, I had to do my own research. That’s how TradieWives was born. While researching, I realised that there must be other women facing similar challenges, and I thought we could share ideas and insights to help one another.

If you find yourself wanting to help your spouse in their business, my advice is simply to give it a try. You don’t have to be familiar with the trade industry from the start. There are many others facing the same challenges and questions and are more than willing to offer advice and support. Start by taking small steps and learning as you go. Adapt and grow with the role.

When a spouse joins the business, it can be a great strength, but they need to genuinely want to be involved. Don’t take on a role out of obligation, as it can lead to resentment and complications within your relationship. If you’re not strong or interested in one area, you can always outsource it. Finding joy in what you do and delegating the rest can make a huge difference. In our case, I handle the business side of things, so my husband doesn’t have to stress about it and he can concentrate on the tools. Coming together like this has built a stronger business and a more fulfilling relationship.

Embracing networking opportunities
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is incredibly important when finding work-life balance, and it’s something people don’t realise until they experience it. Networking is not only the best form of marketing but also an avenue to address common challenges and find solutions. Don’t underestimate its importance. It’s like having supportive colleagues who understand your challenges, and who can give you fresh ideas you haven’t considered. Having a safe space to express your feelings and discuss the obstacles you face is invaluable.

My advice is to start small, even if it’s just spending a few minutes chatting or making connections in a Facebook group. Networking doesn’t have to be traditional. I personally still dislike in-person networking events and prefer the comfort of online interactions! There are so many online networking groups and industry events where you can connect with people and discover more networking opportunities.

Finding a balance between work and personal life requires intentional effort, self-awareness, and a supportive community. By setting boundaries, establishing realistic goals, nurturing your mental health, and connecting with like-minded people, you can thrive both professionally and personally. Embracing a balanced lifestyle not only enhances your mental well-being but also contributes to long-term business success.