I went from designing work at the kitchen table to designing my own table where my company of women across 5 countries sits. And that was within a 13 year span.
Getting older has its perks though. We’ve seen a thing or two. We’ve done things. We’ve said things. Getting older comes with its own gravitas of learning from others wins and losses.
As a business owner of an all gamer girl themed hybrid model design firm we’ve learned and established boundaries in growing, pruning and cultivating our submersive ‘Octane culture’.
I find myself walking away from doing what I love ‘for the money’ and walking faster toward doing what I love for the craft. Establishing boundaries for personal growth helped me better define what I didn’t want for my small business.
Here’s my 5 top takeaways in establishing my business growth through boundaries:
Clearly define your scope of work
It is important for not only me but for my team to have a clear understanding of what services we are specifically offering and what is out of scope. This helped us avoid taking on projects that are not a good fit for us and ensure that we could deliver high-quality work within the agreed-upon timeline.
Establish a process for project management
We have a clear process for onboarding and managing projects from start to finish, including timelines, deliverables, and client communication. Using project tools like Trello and now Asana helped us stay organized to ensure that deadlines are met, and avoid scope creep.
Set realistic timelines and expectations
When working with clients, it is important to set realistic expectations for timelines and deliverables. This will help you avoid overpromising and under delivering, and ensure that you can meet your clients’ needs without sacrificing quality.
#Truth. My business went through a season of overpromising. And I believe it was a good lesson to learn earlier in establishing what Octane can do now.
Communicate clearly and frequently
I’m personally an over communicator (my 3 sons can attest). Effective communication is absolutely key to establishing and maintaining boundaries. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Be clear about what you can and cannot do, and keep clients informed throughout the project. Even when there’s no major updates, send the update anyway to show consistency and professional communication.
What do you do when your client is not a good listener / collaborator / communicator? Typically in the “discovery” process you can tell if a client is invested in the project or wants to be more hands off. This is where you define your boundaries and set the tone for expectation.
For those with a clear drop in project communication we practice a 7 /15/ 30 rule in place for a non responsive client that includes a final communication deadline after 30 days of the last project milestone. If they ever come back for future work they must pay for any previously billed time to renew services.
Know when to say no; know when to fire a client
In being a business owner for over 14 years you can naturally smell when the ‘whole couch is burning’. We hear businesses say that ‘they vet out’ vendors/ businesses but in our case its often me and my business that decides IF we want to work with that client. This takes time and experience to develop the muscle mentality of ‘doing it for the money’ versus ‘doing it ‘for the craft’.
Sometimes, a project may not be a good fit for your business and it’s important to know when to say no and refer clients to other professionals who may be better suited to meet their needs. This will help you avoid taking on work that is not a good fit for your business, and ensure that you can focus on delivering high-quality work to your clients.
In conclusion you can build that stellar internal culture for your business, still take on amazing projects and say ‘no thanks’. All at once. It’s called growth and with time, diamond-like pressure and some good ol’ experimental elbow grease, professionals in their industry can do wondrous things.