You’re a business owner. You call the shots. You get to fly by the seat of your pants and do what feels right, when and how it feels right. Right?
No matter what kind of business you’re in, you need standard operating procedures (SOPs) to help guide you and your growing team. Even if you don’t have a team (and don’t have plans to hire one), SOPs help to keep your work consistent no matter what you’re doing.
SOPs are similar to workflows, but they go deeper than that. They don’t just tell you what to do, they tell you how to do it.
Let’s say you have a workflow for your client onboarding process. You have emails set up to go out with questionnaires and some back-end tasks that need to happen. Eventually you hire someone to help with these processes. And then, one day, something breaks (as will happen with technology).Before something breaks in your biz, have SOPs in order so you and your team know what to do and how to do it.Click To Tweet
Your support team is lost. They have no idea how and when something should happen because while the workflow is all laid out (they know what to do), they have no idea how it should happen. There aren’t any SOPs.
This leads to frustration and confusion internally, and it makes you look pretty darn unorganized from the outside looking in.
It’s like giving someone all the tools to build a house but no instruction on how to do it. Or like going under the knife with a surgical team that has no procedures to fall back on if something goes wrong.
Not convinced yet? Here are three reasons you need to have SOPs in your business:
Workflows are great to have on-hand, but when you have SOPs, you essentially have a ready-made manual that you can hand off to train new team members on how things work in your business. If you’re growing rapidly or hire someone who doesn’t work out, you don’t have to recreate the wheel with new hires. It’s already there and ready for you.
And your SOPs can and should go far beyond back-end business tasks. Include things like how to communicate with you, other team members or your clients. This saves you loads of time because you won’t have to navigate phone calls, texts and emails if that’s not how you want to communicate.
Who doesn’t want to save a few dollar bills? When you save time, you save money. But you also save the hassle of paying someone to do a job that may not be done up to your standards. Having SOPs in place will help to clearly define projects and work quality, so there’s never a question if something is “done.” It’s spelled out clearly what “done” looks like.
Clients are the reason we’re all in this, right? We have a gift and we want to share it. But we need clients who will sing our praises. By having solid workflows and consistent procedures inside your business, your clients will grow to love you because you’re saving them time and money.
What does this all look like?
You can develop your SOPs in any format that’s easy to update but fully accessible to all team members. That might be a Google Doc, Google Sheet, or a Google Site. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it just needs to work. Think of it as a virtual employee manual on steroids.
But it’s not just for team members either. Your clients also have a few SOPs that they need to be aware of.Before something breaks in your biz, have SOPs in order so you and your team know what to do and how to do it.Click To Tweet
Get started with this example:
We talked about onboarding new clients already, so let’s get started with that as an example. This is, by far, one of the most important standard operating procedures you’ll create for your business. It’s the process that your clients will remember, and it’s what sets the tone for everything you do together.
You already have your workflow for bringing new clients on. But once they get there, do they know what to expect?
Here are some things to include in your client SOPs:
- How will they contact you?
- How will you communicate? How often?
- How do they up-level their purchase?
- How will you invoice them?
- What should they expect from you–and when?
- What do you expect of them?
- How quickly should they respond to requests from you?
- What happens if they don’t?
Many of these questions should be answered in your terms and conditions or contract, but they all need to be spelled out in your SOPs, too. Because, let’s face it: we all get busy and we forget. Your clients are no exception, so give them some grace and a document to fall back on.
Creating solid SOPs in your business is vital to your ability to grow and scale. Although they take time to create, in the long run, SOPs will help you save time, save money, and please your clients.
Need help determining the SOPs in your business? Grab my Trello board template to help you determine roles within your business–then create SOPs for every task in every role. (Hint: Have your team help you with this!)