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Why Your Business Needs Standard Operating Procedures

Let's face it. We're not just small business owners.

We're Moms. Wives. Friends. Daughters. Sisters. And the amount of stuff we have to remember on a daily basis would fill an entire planner, plus a white board, plus maybe a few post it notes.

It's so easy to slip into a pattern where we....

➡️ Think we can store all our business tasks & processes "in our head"

➡️ Find ourselves constantly getting bogged down in the details

➡️ Feel like we can't take a day off, because we feel like our to do list is literally never complete

When what we actually want is...

➡️ Peace of mind knowing that we haven't missed a step, forgotten a date or misplaced a document

➡️ A business that gives us the freedom to have a spontaneous mid week lunch with a friend, or take our kids away on a spur of the moment weekend trip to the mountains 

➡️ A streamlined business that not only generates revenue, but has the systems in place to allow for long term, sustainable growth

What's the secret to going from feeling like you're working 24-7 to having a systemized, scalable business?

Standard Operating Procedures

A Standard Operating Procedure (or SOP) is a detailed set of step-by-step instructions that describe how to complete a process from beginning to end.

SOP’s documents the processes that need to be followed in order to operate your business.

Creating documented SOP’s allows you to release the mental load of trying to remember ALL the things in your business, so that you can actually get through an entire episode of Yellowstone WITHOUT having to jot something down in your notes app just to make sure you don't forget to do it tomorrow!

So let's dive in!

Why Do We Need SOP's?

The purpose of an SOP is to provide clear instructions on how to perform a specific task or complete a process. Ideally, someone who is completely unfamiliar with your business should be able to look at your SOP, and complete the task without a ton of guidance from you. 

SOP's can help us save time, be more efficient, provide consistent client experience, and give us the space we need to breathe (aka think, grow, be creative) inside our business! 

Some benefits of using SOPs include:

  1. Improved efficiency: If you find yourself spending A LOT of time checking (and rechecking!) your work because you're pretty sure you forgot a step, using documented SOP’s can help you avoid that altogether.  You KNOW you’ve completed all the necessary steps because you’ve followed a document checklist or outline.  You will save a TON of time and mental space this way.

  2. Consistency: Our clients have invested their time, money and trust in us, and they are all deserving of the best experience possible.  SOPs help us ensure that we are completing tasks the same way, every time, providing the same consistent level of client experience for everyone.

  3. Headache free onboarding: Nothing is more frustrating for a new employee than starting a new job and having NO idea what they’re supposed to do.  And nothing is more frustrating for a business owner who finally decided to take a huge step in their business to hire a teammate and now have to spend the next 6 weeks showing them how to do all the things. Having documented SOPs in place means new hires can almost completely self-train as far as performing processes go.

  4. Because we're human: We forget things.  When we have recurring tasks that we do over and over again, we're bound to do them a little bit differently each time, forget a step or do a step out of order. SOP’s help prevent that.

How To Create SOP's

SOP's don’t have to be complex, they just have to provide a framework, so that you can be sure that you’re creating repeatable systems inside your business. 

SOP's can be written (like in a Google Doc), recorded (using a screen recorder like Loom), or really any way that makes the most sense for you and your business.

Here's the process I use to create my SOP's:

  1. Identify: First, I identify the task or procedure that needs an SOP. Before you can create a standard operating procedure, you need to identify the specific task or procedure that it will cover. This could be anything from writing a blog post to onboarding clients.

  2. Gather Information: Next, I gather information and resources. Before you can create an SOP, you will need to gather all the necessary information and resources. This could include templates, login information, or other SOP's that you need to reference.

  3. Document: Then it's time to actually document the SOP. Once you have all the information and resources you need, it's time to start documenting the SOP. Use a clear and concise writing style and be sure to include step-by-step instructions for performing the task or procedure. It's important to use clear and specific language and to organize the information in a logical and easy-to-follow format.

  4. Wait: Afterwards, I wait a day or two, then I review the SOP. This way, I can look at the SOP with a fresh set of eyes. I follow the steps as if I've never completed that task before. This way, I can spot any gaps while ensuring that the SOP is both accurate and effective.

  5. Implement & Train:  Finally, I start using the SOP! If you have a team members, you would provide a training so that they can effectively use & implement the new SOP. Give them a chance to share their feedback, and adjust as necessary.

  6. Review: Even after the SOP has been implemented, it's important to review and update it regularly to ensure that it remains accurate and effective. Set a recurring task for yourself to remind you to review the SOP at least every 6 months.

How To Use SOP's With A Team

Using documented SOP’s is even more important when you have a team.  Your team members or independent contractors are essentially an extension of you!  The goal is for them to be able to fully complete a task without other people knowing that it wasn’t you who did it.

SOP’s empower your team members to take ownership of tasks without you having to micromanage or hover over them, but still give you the piece of mind knowing that things are being done in a way that is consistent to you and your brand.

Here are a few things to consider when using SOP's with your team:

  1. Communicate the “WHY”: Each documented SOP should state an objective right up front. No one likes to do busy work.  For some, a long form SOP might seem repetitive or redundant. But when you have a firm grasp of the reason that you are taking that particular set of steps, you’re more inclined to do them.

  2. Store SOP’s in one place: Make sure they are all labeled and easy to find. You can use a Google Drive folder system to store SOP's. They won't be helpful if your team has no idea where they are located.

  3. Ask for feedback: When creating SOPs, ask your team members who are currently performing the tasks or procedures for feedback. This will help to ensure that the SOPs are accurate and practical, and that they make sense for your team.

Wrapping Up...

Although it might seem like a huge pain to take the time to write down all the steps you take to onboard a client or publish a blog post or respond to an inquiry, documented SOP's take the pressure off you.  You don't actually have to remember all the steps because you have a documented set of instructions that walks you (or someone you delegate to) through EXACTLY what to do!  

Want to dive deeper? The SOP Blueprint will walk you through each of these steps, along with providing templates that you can use to create your own SOP's!


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