Since the release of Clockwork, the online world has been buzzing with words like QBR and systematization. If you’re a business owner, you are finally getting it that you can let go of the day-to-day operations and embrace your main role as the CEO of your business and that your operations can successfully run without you.
This is all done and managed through crafting and carrying out SOPs, or Standard Operating Procedures. Most owners cringe when they think about having to pull the details out of their heads… where are they going to find the time? But here’s the secret: you can easily create SOPs for your service-based business without having to spend more time to complete it.
In the everyday life of an entrepreneur, or Small Business CEO, you’re pulled in a million directions from sales calls, content creation, client fulfillment, project management, bookkeeping and more. It’s no wonder that tasks get forgotten or dropped. It looks like you’re burning out and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, you’re sleeping less because the fear of missing something in their business is keeping them up at night.
Ways to Easily Create SOPs for Your Service-based Business
Creating SOPs may feel like a daunting and painful task. You can even argue that your business is growing so much your SOPs are going to be changing, so there’s no point in getting them created now. This mindset is so far from the truth!
If you don’t have something in place, then you don’t have a baseline on where to start, or what to improve on. If you’ve been thinking about growing your team, or you’re planning for a team, to maintain high momentum and everyone rowing in the same direction, SOPs will help you do just that. Your SOPs will outline a roadmap to the activity, system, or workflow and provide the easy steps to get things done every time.
Brain dump on paper.
Most people approach getting started with a blank paper or document and writing down the steps as they perform the activity. However, I believe that is often counterproductive. Instead, to create your SOPs take the first 10 minutes to pre-plan your next task.
Before you begin, map out a checklist that you would follow, and adjust as you are performing it. By doing this, you are also performing quality control. As you are considering which tasks to start with, think about the ones that you do often, and that you can possibly delegate. Such as creating a content post, setting up a discovery call, preparing for a client meeting, etc. Here are a few tools that you can use to document the process:
- Google doc or Microsoft Word
- Apple Notes
If you’re a visionary CEO or a superstar in your zone of genius, extracting data from yourself may feel like the biggest waste of time, or you’re struggling to export it out of your mind. However, if you’re going from solo to team, leverage your team members or contract a process/systems consultant to interview you, and extract the information from you to create your SOPs. Like the brain dump process, make sure you list out the steps first and then perform through them so you have the opportunity to correct. Here are a few ways to have a successful interview process:
- Team meetings to create a priority list of the processes to
- Zoom/Video Conference with screen share by the activity owner
- Pre-record your screen as you complete the activity
Template your SOP Process.
To blast through documenting numerous processes, create a templated document or form that you can simply fill out. This will standardize the interview so you know the questions to ask and capture the information in the same way. The questions that should always be asked are:
- Who is responsible for this step or who is involved in this step
- Why is this process important or necessary (the purpose/objective of the process)
- When does this process need to run (or frequency)
- What is this type of process (is it a policy, procedure or reference doc)
- Provisions: what needs to take place before this process can take place
- How: The steps to perform this activity/process
Things to Consider When Creating SOPs
While there are different approaches to create SOPs for your service-based business, there are several things to consider that will benefit your documenting process and the effectiveness of your SOPs. They must be…
- Readable. Have consistent fonts, numbered pages, titles, and effectively use your white spaces.
- Understandable. Keep content focused and to the point. Use relevant, simple terms in bullet form.
- Consumable. By using the SOP template, it’s going to be easy to read and to follow.
- Actionable. Steps must be clearly defined and succinct so tasks can be performed with minimal issues
- Measurable. Each step can be measured and improved as long as they are specific and yields a result.
Sprinkle some Creativity.
SOPs do not have to be boring and dry documents. You can brighten them up with screenshots, flowcharts, and diagrams that tell the story and communicates the operational journey. Remember who you are writing the SOPs for, so keep them simple, and conduct frequent feedback to continuously improve your processes.
Although creating an SOP seems daunting and time-consuming, the key is to work at it one step at a time.
Here’s how to easily get started on creating your own SOPs for your service-based business:
- Set up an hour a week for documenting.
- Include it as a part of the team meeting agenda.
Really strapped for time? Hire a Process/Systems consultant to get the work done, so you and your amazing team can keep in high drive and focus on doing the work you do best.
So share with us; have you begun documenting your processes and systems? What would you share with an owner who is beginning their own journey?