Most of my clients started their businesses as solopreneurs. When you’re the only team member, you can fly by the seat of your pants. Your main concern is delivering services to your clients, and the backend of business takes a back seat!
Most of my clients are also just starting to grow their teams. They hit six figures, and from there, things escalate quickly. Suddenly, they can’t do it all, spontaneity and inspiration aren’t enough to make it all happen, and they realize that unless they set themselves up to scale — stat — they’re going to be buried under their business in no time.
It isn’t until you need to bring in someone to help them with your workload that you’ll typically realize what a mess they have on their hands.
Without the proper systems, processes, and procedures, training employees, putting contractors to work promptly, and keeping the workflow flowing can be challenging. Proactively creating SOPs in your business can help you avoid these bottlenecks and build a team that supports you and your business (almost) flawlessly.
A system is the broader scope of how things are related and connected in a specific area of your business. Systems need to be mapped out and have a lot of interconnected parts and pieces. You’ll need to identify and get to know the systems in your business before you create and organize your processes and procedures because systems are built out of individual processes.
Systems answer the question, “What’s the general purpose and flow of work here?”
The broader systems that exist in your business are likely the same ones that exist in every business. They include:
Processes and procedures are different names for the same thing. A process or procedure contains the steps you take to get from point A to point B, and they connect to create a more extensive system. You can write your processes and procedures in an outline style list or bulleted format. You know you’re dealing with a process when it is linear, task-based, and detail-oriented.
Processes answer the question, “Exactly how does this part of the system get completed?”
All an SOP is an intentionally designed and documented process that tells someone how to achieve a particular outcome in your business.
A quality standard operating procedure has three key components:
SOPs must be documented in writing or with audio, visual, and video aids. If it isn’t written or otherwise recorded and accessible to others, it’s not an SOP!
“The best SOPs are simple and easy to understand,” says the SOP innovation company Tango. Your intended user/team member should be able to pick up your SOP and understand a task with minimal to no explanation from you.
An SOP should answer the classic questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? And how? A complete SOP should be clear enough that someone other than yourself/the creator of the SOP can repeat the process without help.
PRO TIP: There are some things in your business that do not need an SOP, and those are the things you can Google and find an answer to in five minutes.
SOPs are vital to a business backend that will scale. With them, you can:
Onboard and train new team members with ease.
“One of the best ways to audit your team’s standard operating procedures is to try and teach them to a new hire,” says Tango.
Delegate work and start to ‘replace’ yourself in your business.
Delegation becomes much less stressful when you have SOPs that allow you to confidently hand off a task, know how long it should take, and measure your team’s performance. When you have an Elevated CEO Mindset, you know that you should only be doing in your business what only you can do.
Simplify your audit process.
“You’d be surprised at how many business problems you can solve when you carefully write down your procedures. When you take the time to write down the way people do things, it gets a lot easier to see where you have gaps in service,” says staffing solution company Solvo.
Create consistency and efficiency to manage your time more effectively.
“While innovation is essential to remain competitive in today’s workforce, standardization is crucial to maintaining consistent results,” says Maintain X, a company that digitizes company workflows.
To keep your SOPs organized and well managed, you’ll want to use a project management tool like Click Up or give a program like Tango a shot. Tango is a screenshot software that lets you add text, tutorial instructions, and annotations to your screenshots to build highly visual SOPs.
Learn more about creating SOPs with Tango here and here.
PRO TIP: Google Docs is not very searchable and can be a clunky way to store SOPs. It would be a last resort in my book — better than nothing, but certainly not the best.
As an OBM and systems-obsessed-nerd, I rarely have clients who describe themselves as highly organized — that’s why they come to me! I never treat SOPs as a one-size-fits-all thing. Together with my clients, we create systems and processes in a way that feels good and works well in their unique business.
If you’re someone who resists creating structure in your business, I’m willing to bet that it’s because you haven’t found a way to have freedom and flow within the systems and processes your business needs to grow. That might mean you’re ready to join forces with an OBM yourself. If that’s the case, click on over here to download my services guide and find out more about how I might be able to help!
July 28, 2022