Every business has processes. The big question is are they documented so someone beside yourself could run your business. (Sticky notes and napkins don't count ☺) Could you leave for an extended vacation and your business continue to run without you? If not, I highly recommend starting an Operations Manual aka Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for your business.
Now I know this may sound like a daunting task but it doesn't have to be. Start by jotting down the tasks that you do on a daily basis. Then set aside time each week (put it on your calendar and treat it as an appointment) to map out how the task is completed in a step-by-step manner. Once you've mapped out your daily tasks move on to tasks that you do weekly, monthly and quarterly and follow the same process. Don't worry about the formatting, just focus on documenting all your processes first. Then once that is complete you can focus on the layout and appearance of the document. Keep it simple and visual – step-by-step instructions with screen shots make your SOP easy to use and understand. If you give the SOP to a new team member they should be able to follow it with little to no supervision.
If you have a team ask for their help in putting together the SOP. Setup a team meeting using one of the many collaborative tools (Mindmeister, Dabbleboard, Mindomo) and map out all of your processes. Then have team members add their tasks to the SOP.
Here are 5 benefits to starting your SOP today!
- Stop reinventing the wheel! When you don’t do a task very often and you haven’t written down exactly how it’s done – you can find yourself starting over with a new “process”. Then before you know it you may have several ways to do the same thing. It will save you time if you take the time to map it out and add it to your SOP.
- Standardize your process so your clients have a consistent experience. People love consistency – if you run monthly webinars its much easier on your clients if they receive the details in a consistent manner each month.
- Customer Service – how do you deal with refunds or questions on your products or services? If you have a team, it’s important for them to know how to handle these types of issues.
- Manage growth – your business has doubled and now you definitely need to hire a VA! But what do are you going to delegate to them?
- Delegate – you can effectively delegate to your VA or team. Give them access to your SOP so they can quickly come up to speed on how you run your business.
I hope this information is of value. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, suggestions on creating and using an SOP for your business. Please share with us!