An SOP, or Standard Operating Procedure, is a set of instructions that documents the processes that need to be followed in order to operate your business.
SOP's allow 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 Housewives WITHOUT having to jot something down in your notes app just to make sure you don't forget to do it tomorrow!
Because 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? Creating organized & documented SOP's.
So let's dive in!
Why Do We Need SOP's?
The purpose of an SOP is to provide clear and detailed guidance on how to perform a specific task or process. They should be documented or recorded in a manner that is easy to understand and follow, and should be accessible to all team members who are responsible for performing the task or process. This ensures that everyone is working from the same set of instructions, which helps to minimize errors and improve overall performance.
SOP's are an essential tool for any business because they help you ensure a consistent experience for every client, save us time, and allow us room to grow. Some key benefits of using SOPs include:
Improved efficiency: SOPs provide clear and detailed instructions for performing specific tasks or procedures, which can help team members complete their work more quickly and accurately.
Consistency: By providing standardized instructions for performing specific tasks or procedures, SOPs ensure that we are completely tasks the same way, every time. This can improve the quality of your services and overall client experience.
Better training: SOPs serve as a useful training tool for new team members, as well as a reference for experienced team members. By providing step-by-step instructions for performing specific tasks, SOPs make it easier for team members to learn their job functions in a more efficient manner.
Continuous improvement: Regularly reviewing, updating and training team members on SOP's can create a culture of continuous improvement. As new information, techniques, processes or technologies become available, your SOPs will evolve with your business and improve it overall.
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) or Recorded (Using a screen recorder like Loom). Here's the process I use to create the SOP's for my business:
Identify: 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. Generally, I choose a task that I do over and over again, or one that takes me a lot of time.
Gather Information: 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.
Document: I 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.
Wait: 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.
Implement & Train: 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.
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
SOP's are even more important when you hire a team member or bring on an independent contractor. Having documented SOP's in place will allow you to delegate tasks without sacrificing quality of work or client experience. However, it's not enough just to have the SOP's available. If you don't have a system in place, or your SOP's aren't stored in a standard location, it can actually have the opposite effect - making you less efficient. Here are a few things to consider when using Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with your team:
Make sure you clearly communicate the "WHY". Each documented SOP should state an objective right up front. For example: if I were to write an SOP addressing creating social media assets for my brand, I would be sure to address the reasons that social media posts were important, and why they needed to be consistent.
Store your 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. Grab the Google Drive folder hierarchy inside the Business Management Bundle.
Provide training: Once the SOPs have been created, you will need to provide training and education to your team members on how to use them. This may involve conducting training sessions, providing written materials, or creating online resources.
Ask for feedback: When creating SOPs, it is important to gather input from your team members who are currently performing the tasks or procedures that the SOP will cover. This will help to ensure that the SOPs are accurate and practical, and that they take into account the unique challenges and needs of your team.
Review and update regularly: Regularly review and update the SOPs to ensure that they remain accurate and effective. This could involve updating the SOPs to reflect changes in process, pricing, procedures, and include feedback and suggestions from the team members.
It's important to remember that SOPs are an important tool for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your team's work, but they should not be seen as a one-time solution. They need to be regularly reviewed and updated as the organization and processes evolve. By involving your team in the development, training, and implementation of SOPs, you can ensure that they are an effective and valuable tool for your organization.
Creating a standard operating procedure can seem like a daunting task, but by following these steps, you can create an effective SOP that will help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business processes. Remember that the goal of creating an SOP is to make processes consistent, safe, repeatable and easily understandable by anyone who follows them.
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.