Do you know what the ‘non-negotiables’ are in your business? 

This was something I learnt about years ago while I was studying my Masters in Marketing.

These can also be known as ‘sacred cows’ – meaning the things that you never mess with, such as the exclusion zone around your logo for example. I know some business owners who are very particular about that blank space around their logo and ensuring that nothing can encroach on it so that their logo always resides in its own glorious air space.

But non-negotiables are also about creating boundaries in your workplace and in your life as a business owner or entrepreneur.

Your world

When you step into the corporate world your boundaries have normally been put in place by HR. For example, the hours that you work, behaviour towards colleagues and intellectual property on anything created during working hours etc.

But, all too often when you work for yourself, you might not think about creating boundaries simply because you’re too busy focussing on getting the job done.


Non-negotiables are defined by what you will and won’t accept from your clients, customers and yourself.

These deal breakers are unique to you, your business and your situation and only you can determine what they are and how you will manage and keep them.

There are tons of examples but here are just a few to get your started:

  1. Not working weekends
  2. Going to bed by 11pm
  3. Meditating first thing
  4. Having some ‘me time’ once a week to indulge in pampering yourself
  5. Not taking calls or looking at your social media after a certain time
  6. Being at the school gate, on time, to pick up your children

You get the idea. But you need to identify what are the real ‘non-negotiables’ and what are the ‘nice to haves’.

Your Plan

Step 1:  Get clear on the difference between the ‘nice to haves’ and the ‘non-negotiables’.

Write a list and ask yourself whether you could ever see yourself breaking your own rules.

How would you feel if you had to break them? Is someone depending on you and if you let them down what would it mean for them?

Step 2:  Keep it current and review.

Your life and business will change over the years and so might your non-negotiables. Therefore it is always good to review your list a few times a year and ask yourself whether they still apply and whether they remain meaningful.

Step 3: Communicate your non-negotiables.

Make sure the people that matter in your life are aware of the rules you’ve set for yourself, why they matter and how they can support you in sticking to them.

You should also make sure your team and clients are aware of the rules you’ve set that relate to your work. Put them on your website and ensure that they form part of any contracts you put together.

Being clear on what matters most to you is incredibly important and it is also equally important to follow through on your agreed non-negotiables.

Saying ‘no’ can be tough at times but it can really make a huge difference to all aspects of your life.

Over the next few days why not think about what your non-negotiables are and next week be committed to putting them into place.

I would love to hear about any non-negotiables you have put in place as a business owner/entrepreneur, so please leave a comment below.

And if this post has inspired you, please share it with your friends and business contacts on social media especially, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

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