So SOPs? Standard Operating Procedures? Do you have them? The word itself just sounds so corporatey. But what exactly are standard operating procedures for business? Why do you need them, when you’ve only ever wanted to escape the corporate life to run a business your way?
Here’s the thing. At some point, your business is going to grow and your responsibilities are going to grow with it. Depending on your vision for your business, you are going to need to lean into systems and human resources. To help you manage your business. Otherwise, you may find yourself trapped in a hugely successful business, with no control over your time, or with even less time off than when you had a day job.
The truth is, without standard operating procedures, automating, hiring and delegating becomes extremely difficult, and costly too.
What are SOPs?
Standard operating procedures are really just a way of doing things in your business. They help you ensure things get done your way. They are like a recipe book to get the most ideal results you want for your business.
SOPs help you ensure that activities that can be done by a machine, get done by a machine. And not by you or anyone else you end up hiring in your business.
And if you are looking for a formal definition, a standard operating procedure is a procedure specific to your business operations that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business.
Why SOPs and what are the benefits for your business?
First of all, I want you to change your mindset about processes, operations or even SOPs. A lot of people think ‘boring’, ‘must-have, ‘restrictive’ when they hear these words. And this is completely not true. SOPs are one of the building blocks to a strong foundation in your business. So see them as an investment in creating a business that will last.
Yes, exactly! Not what you thought right?
A common thing I hear entrepreneurs say is how they have the blueprint of their business in their mind. They’re the only ones who know what is supposed to happen when, but no one else knows what’s in your mind besides yourself.
While this is definitely something worth bragging about, it isn’t the best way to build a business that gives you time freedom and flexibility. You started your business because you wanted control over your time. Without putting the processes, steps and activities of your business on pen and paper, you won’t be able to create the systems that give you that time freedom. Your business will continue to be your ‘baby’. And so it can’t survive without you constantly being there to make sure it survives.
Your SOPs are going to help you create the systems to support you and your team. So that you don’t have to continue trading time for every dollar you make in your business.
Have you ever been to a Macdonalds and your fries were a different size to what you are used to? Ever bought a shoe from Nike and the size 5 in the store in UK felt different from the size 5 in Bankgok? The reason why you have probably never had such issues is that these businesses have strict standard operating procedures that everyone must abide by. The same applies to your business.
You want all your clients to experience the same quality of service delivery. The right processes and SOPs are going to help you achieve this. You want your content to be created and promoted in a certain way that suits your style and brand. Regardless of who is in charge of this activity in your business. The SOPs you create will be a key ingredient in ensuring that things get done a certain way, the same way, all the time. This is how you scale a business, and how you can replicate success efficiently.
Delegate like a boss
If you have been putting off hiring someone to help you because ‘nobody can do it like you do’, then SOPs are your new best friend. Through SOPs you can literally put down the operations of your business and strategy. And someone else can execute them for you.
Now don’t get me wrong. Not everything in your business can be automated or delegated. But you will be shocked that a fairly large percentage of activities can. And that’s why SOPs are going to help you.
Standard operating procedures for your business include things such as; when certain activities should be performed, how frequently, what tools and steps are available to aid in completing the activities.
Having a well-documented SOP will make it so much easier for your team to execute according to your expectations. This will reduce the amount of back-and-forth or questions from your team as they try to get things done.
They can also focus on executing the task because they have a clear guide, and save time while at it. So not only are you getting better quality work, but you are getting more output for the time they spend working on your business.
What happens if your wing-woman Virtual Assistant decides to leave your business? Or has to take time off for personal reasons? Would you be able to easily get a replacement without having to hit pause on the ongoing projects in your business?
Your business success should not depend on a specific person. And SOPs are going to ensure that anything related to your day-to-day operations is clearly documented and explained in a way that someone else with the same level of skills can understand and execute.
Not only for your team members but even for your own eventualities. If you had to take 3 months off from your business (e.g having a baby or going on your honeymoon). Your SOPs will be the only guide that your team will have to ensure that business continues as usual even while you are away.
Once you have your standard operating procedures for your business in place, automation becomes an easier task to manage. Because you have clarity on what you are going to automate and what specifications are required to meet your needs.
Before you start shopping around for tools or paying an annual subscription on a tool that you are not even sure will meet your business needs, take some time to set up your SOPs and map out your processes. The answer will become much clearer to you when you have clarity on your operations.
You want to have the right standards of quality in your business, and this is a key part of building a strong brand.
Once you have your SOPs in place, you and your team members have a clear guide. This ensures that quality standards are met when you are creating content, or interacting with potential clients or even during the service delivery process.
As a coach, if your business model is around 1-2-1 private coaching, the only way to scale this model is by hiring more people. Your SOPs are going to help you ensure that the assistant coaches you hire are meeting the client’s needs at the same level of quality as if you were the one delivering the service.
A lot of people think ‘boring’ when they hear the word ‘operations’. It just doesn’t sound as sassy and exciting. But if you are struggling to keep up with the influx of new clients, or if you have a long waiting list of clients, these are good problems to have and SOPs can help you solve them.
The only way to scale your business and breakthrough an income plateau is to invest in systems or human capital. Both of these investments require your business to be set on the right foundation if you want the highest return from them. And your SOPs are going to be part of that foundation. So why not create your SOPs and set yourself up for long-term success?
And if you feel like you would rather outsource this to someone else, You don’t have to do this alone. Let’s chat here in a free Systems to Scale Audit about my VIP intensive where we will create your operations strategy and processes, and get you on a great start.
Where do you start with SOPs for your business?
- First things first, read my 4A Systems method blog to get the building blocks of your standards of procedure for your business right.
- You will then need to do a thorough task audit.
- Organize your tasks
- By core area of business
- Using the Like vs.. Don’t like
- Using the Task Priority Matrix: Do, Automate, Delegate, Ditch, Prioritize, Postpone
- Starting with the tasks you don’t like that are the most, time-consuming, create SOPs for them. You will want to automate or delegate these so you can free up your time for the tasks that come more naturally to you.
- Document all the steps you take in completing these tasks. Have a notepad next to you the next time you complete the task, and take note of the steps you take and any important detail as you perform the task.
- Use my SOP template here to create your own SOP template, and share it with your team members. Make sure you check out my next blog where I will be talking about how to organize your SOPs
Found this useful? Drop a comment below and let me know what’s the next SOP you will be documenting.