Earlier this year we wrote a blog talking all about setting boundaries as a business owner as well as the importance of creating processes. Both blogs are great and are still highly worth the read. But as so happens in life, I’ve realized how interconnected these two concepts actually are.
So instead of telling you the ways that we’ve established boundaries or why you should be dedicating time to creating or updating processes (I’m sure you’d love to) I’m going to make the pitch that processes, boundaries, and culture are all interconnected and without them, you’ll never be able to create an authentic company brand.
Woah. That’s a lot. But stick with me.
I was talking with a dear friend who was knee-deep in putting out company fires. They had complaints about company culture, there were zero processes in place, and boundaries were nonexistent. He was exhausted and felt that there were a million things he wanted to do but not enough time in the day and his brain was overflowing with to-dos. As we were talking on the phone, I could tell that my saying “boundaries are important” was met with a loving eye roll and an unspoken: Wouldn’t that be nice?
That’s when it dawned on me, without processes, boundaries are impossible. That is because there is nowhere consistent to hold the information in your head, you can’t be sure everyone has what they need to do their job successfully, heck, you’re probably recreating the wheel each time you do a task. And to add insult to injury, the T’s don’t get crossed and I’s don’t get dotted, so it takes more energy to do, well, everything. How does one create healthy boundaries in this environment? The answer is they don’t.
As I was talking with my friend the reality was that he had to focus on putting out the fires. That had to be steps one, two, and three. But the truth about fires in business is that eventually, they go out. And this is when you have the chance to focus on implementing systems and processes.
At TwoLips, anytime we have a week or so where things are a bit quiet, we switch our focus internally. What’s working? What isn’t? What templates need to be created? What needs to be updated? Imagining asking my team these questions in the thick of client projects is comical. But there will be a downtime and it’s about using that time to focus internally so that the next time things get busy, it’s a little less chaotic.
Once you have a chunk of your processes in place, beginning to set boundaries is going to be infinitely easier. You’ll be able to begin trusting the systems you have in place and knowing that things are getting done as needed. Eventually, you’ll be able to offload some of these tasks to team members or automation because you’ve created systems, thus giving yourself more time and space for boundaries.
Without processes and boundaries, you can not truly architect company culture. This is because at the end of the day, how the work gets done and what the expectations are for the team are the core of culture. Pizza Fridays and foosball tables became the memeable trends for companies that wanted to claim they were “fun workplaces with a great culture”. But no amount of pizza parties makes up for the fact you are consistently working late on a Friday due to unrealistic deadlines. And a kombucha keg doesn’t make up for Sunday Scaries because everyone on your team is stressed up to their eyeballs.
Instead, try focusing on how the team communicates, setting clear expectations and standards, and reinforcing the outlined company values at every meaningful chance.
I think this is why I’m so passionate about telling our clients, many of whom are at the very beginning of their business journeys, to start thinking about these things. Because it is a whole lot easier to build a strong foundation than it is to try to retroactively put one in place once you realize you have an inordinate amount of fires to put out.
So, to recap. Processes allow you to establish boundaries, which in turn becomes how things get done which ultimately is your company culture. And finally, branding is simply the shortcut to communicating all of these values.
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About The Author
Olivia Wisden is the Founder + CEO of TwoLips Creative. She has worked with dozens of brands over the years ranging from city initiatives to product launches and beyond. When she’s not fan-girling over the design team’s illustrations she can probably be found reading a novel or attending a boxing class.