Boundaries Are Important for PWD Business Owners

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by Alliah Czarielle |

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My husband, Jared, and I run an online jewelry store. Over the years, the fact that our store is run by persons with disabilities (PWDs) has become one of its main selling points. We’ve had fellow PWDs and advocacy supporters speak to us and purchase items. They mentioned that apart from liking our advocacy and message, they also enjoyed the personalized service we offer.

Jared and I often go out of our way to talk to our clients personally. Oftentimes, our conversations not only revolve around business transactions, but also branch out to personal matters. We aim to be known as a store that treats its clientele as human beings, not as mere figures on a spreadsheet.

Many of our clients say that we are “easy to talk to,” yet we often aren’t convinced that this is true. For our part, it’s simply a relief to know that others aren’t put off by our introverted tendencies.

Yet the flip side of being kind is that other people may get the wrong idea and take advantage of that kindness. Agreeable and generous people can also be seen as weak when they fail to set personal boundaries. They bend over backward for others out of fear of being seen as inconsiderate, but in doing so, they become unkind to themselves.

One persistent issue small businesses face is that of clients consistently asking for discounts. Many entrepreneurs feel obligated to lower their prices for their friends. The problem is that this takes away a significant chunk of the earnings of a small business. Friends may see this discount as a small percentage of the item’s price, but to a small business owner, this could be their entire profit on that one sale.

As two people navigating adulthood with our chronic illnesses, Jared and I are quickly learning the importance of being kind to ourselves. We need to respect our own limitations so that we can minimize interruptions in our lives. Jared learned this lesson as a child after an episode of rough play left him with a severe head injury. I’ve also begun to realize the importance of taking care of my mental health so my work isn’t interrupted by intrusive thoughts or depressive episodes.

One harsh lesson adulthood has taught us is that life doesn’t stop for anyone. Even if we get sick or become incapacitated for a few days, we still have to pay our bills, buy our groceries, cook, and attend to our child’s needs. We need to draw boundaries and say no to things that are bad for us as individuals so that we can continue to live our lives and fulfill our intended purpose.

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