A gate keeper is a boundary enforcer in businesses and in life. One obvious example of a gate keeper is a secretary who makes sure that only the right people get into see the boss. But small business owners don’t always have the luxury of having a secretary to keep the gate, and even if they do, they also need other gate keepers.
What makes a gate keeper? Something that helps you observe clear boundaries in your business and also points to what is truly important in your business. Both my calendar and my whiteboard are gate keepers. Appointments go onto the calendar and help me evaluate where I’m spending time and effort outside my office and the white board helps me evaluate the tasks I need to work on for my business and my clients. The only things that go on the white board are tasks I consider important that need to be done.
Your family and friends can be gate keepers when it comes to making personal time. They remind you of how important it is to have fun and do things outside of business instead of working all the time. They are gate keepers of your personal life and the need for balance.
The word no can be an effective gate keeper as well. Having the confidence to say it is important and knowing when to say it is also important. I use no in conjunction with my calendar to make sure I have time to honor my commitments and still stay on top of my business.
Additional gate keepers can be your finances and debt, provided you can master your impulse to spend. A business owner knows that cash flow is essential for the life of the business and consequently evaluates all expenditures carefully to make sure that they are really worth the investment (I say investment because every spending choice should be an investment of some kind).
The best gate keeper is yourself. Simultaneously you can also be the worst gate keeper for yourself. The key to being a good gate keeper for yourself is by providing yourself tools that keep you on track and acknowledging areas where you might be weak by working on those areas. Keeping yourself on track doesn’t have to be difficult if you give yourself the right tools. For example my white board is one of my tools that helps me keep my business boundaries clear. I know what I need to work on and I commit to it because the white board reminds of what’s the top priority.