Many of my clients are busy business owners. They often struggle with the same thing – time management. It’s great that they’ve got so much on their plate – business is booming, and they’re crazily running around doing their ‘thing’ because they know HOW, WHEN and WHY something needs doing. They’ve always done it that way! But unfortunately, they’re in a precarious position. What about when it’s time to expand, recruit new team members, hire a stand-in while you have a well-deserved week off, or just simply outsource some time-consuming tasks on a more regular basis?
That’s where Standard Operating Procedures come in. I’ve established these within my business and I help my clients to do the same. Without systems and procedures in place you may find that your development is a bit haphazard. In fact, you’re running the risk of being THE SPF in your business – THE Single Point of Failure. If something happens to you, who is going to know what to do to keep your business afloat?
Progressing the Process
You’ll need to document the process for each project or task that you touch in your business (stay with me – I can see you frantically flicking through your calendar to find time!). Challenge yourself to become more ‘organised!’
Some simple steps to help;
- Begin by making a list of each task/project you undertake (remember some tasks are quite big e.g. keeping track of and ordering more stock each month, and some are considerably smaller e.g. updating a phone number to a customer record on your database, so include them all).
- Carry out the task. As you go, break down and record each step that you take in order to complete it.
- Once you’ve documented your processes, write them up (or ask your trusty VA to!), format them and save them as part of a Standard Operation Procedures manual.
- Review over time and if there are any changes to the way in which you complete a task or project, update in the SOP Manual so that everything is consistent.
TIP: You don’t have to get pen and paper out to document – technology is really helpful and you can now record yourself talking through the steps on your phone, or video yourself completing them. I use ‘Loom’ which records your screen so you won’t forget what you did next!
Processes into Practice
I recently worked with a client who was looking for a new employee and they asked me to help write the job description. In order to do this, we had to first take a step back and find out what the client needed help with.
With the support of a handy pack of Post It Notes, we wrote down each and every task they did. Other than being amazed at how much my client was actually doing, this exercise meant that they could then split the tasks into 2 piles – tasks that could be done by someone else & those that needed to be completed by them.
After choosing which tasks the new employee would be working on, I spent time with my client recording every step involved in each of the tasks that they did. Armed with this information, I then drew up a SOP Manual that could be used to help train her new colleague, and a clearer and more detailed job description.
SOP – Stop Overload Please!
While SOPs may not be the most exhilarating thing that you focus your time on, they will certainly help you if you need to bring anyone else into your business for any reason – whether that’s because you unexpectedly need to take some time away, or because you’re onboarding a new starter. They’ll also help to organise your time and will hopefully ensure you feel calmer when you’re completing that task that you’ve ‘forgotten’ how to do, as you last completed it 6 months ago.
And yes, as it’s not too exciting a task, then let me help! If you could do with some help and advice to get your Standard Operating Procedure Manual up and running, please do call me on 07958050856 or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to work with you to stop the overload and better organise your working practices.