When we start out in business, it’s true we are responsible for everything that happens. All operations point back to us: marketing, client acquisition, client work, finance, etc. As we grow we need to free ourselves up in order to become the visionary in our businesses, so we need to bring in a team member or two to help us out. We want these new team members to continue our business the way we started it, so we need to show they how. The good news is you can save time and money with SOPs in your business, and the even better news is they can be created quickly.
What is an SOP?
First off, let’s get definitions out of the way. An SOP is a Standard Operating Procedure in your business. This is the standard way of doing things in your business or how you get things done; a how-to manual. I actually listed SOPs as one of the most important business tools needed in running your business (you can check out my complete list).
It may be easy to assume everyone knows how to . . . fill in the blank whether it’s schedule social media, write a blog post, make a graphic in Canva from a template, set up a Zoom meeting, whatever. And maybe that’s true. Or, you can assume that each platform has their own Help features, so if your VA really doesn’t know how to schedule out your posts to Instagram, can’t they just watch a tutorial on YouTube or the Later platform itself? They can.
But having an SOP in place shores your procedures up to the way your team does things and your standards. So maybe there are extra steps you include like storing your captions in AirTable or storing your graphics in Google Drive or repurposing captions for a blog post or a Reel. Or maybe you don’t have the Pro plan they reference in the tutorial video so there’s no auto-generated hashtags and you need your assistant to reference another source you store in ClickUp. All of these steps are kept in your SOPs.
Why are SOPs Important?
Now that you know what an SOP is and how they function in your business, now you can start to understand why they are so important.
As you bring new team members into your business, having a set of SOPs will ensure that everything is done consistently and held to the same standard. This becomes especially true when your team members have customer or client-facing roles. Imagine if you went to your favorite chain restaurant where you expect everything to be more or less the same at each location, and you found out the employees were all using their own recipes and methods for making the menu items. That wouldn’t go over too well!
There’s a certain set of expectations that we have when we work with certain brands, and our entrepreneurial businesses are no exception.
A set of standard operating procedures will also save you time as a CEO in your business because you won’t need to retrain new team members as you are onboarding them. Instead, you, or your OBM if you have one responsible for hiring and onboarding, will be able to direct them to the SOP hub where they can read and watch videos. You can monitor their progress in training and they can refer back to the SOPs as needed should they have questions or need review.
Having consistency and freeing yourself from day-to-day operations are both important factors in the growth of your business as they will allow you to scale with success. You won’t have to worry that things are being done well by your team members; you have cloned the part of you that previously handled your operations and processes allowing you to save time and money with SOPs.
Save Time and Money with SOPs
Creating SOPs may take a time investment initially, but in the long run, they will save you both time and money in your business.
Once you have a system in place, you can begin to set up workflow automation. Using a project management tool like ClickUp, Asana, or Trello, you can outline the steps of each task in a checklist and steps of the workflow assigned to different members of your team. As they check off each step, they can tag the next team member to do their part of the project.
The SOP document will still exist to give an overview of the task as a whole and show how it is completed, but creating automation in this way will save your team members from flipping back and forth to the document each time they work. The project management tool will be able to stay open within their desktop and keep them on task.
Examples of SOPs You Should Have in Your Service-Based Business
If you’re wondering where to start in creating SOPs, a few ideas are included below. Essentially you’ll want to create them for anything you are doing repeatedly in your business or anything you can create a system or process for.
- Social media marketing – including hashtag research, caption writing, creating graphics in Canva or whichever design tool you use, scheduling to different platforms, engagement practices, and metrics and data collection at the end of the month.
- Blog posting – including content generation, blog writing and editing, SEO optimization, formatting for your website, scheduling, and tracking any metrics. You might include additional semi-annual tasks such as reviewing your blog posts for updates, checking links to ensure they are active, recycling popular content, etc.
- Email marketing – including topic generation, writing and editing, formatting within your email service provider, scheduling, metrics collection. You might include additional SOP’s for semi-annual tasks like re-engaging cold subscribers from your list, removing people from your list who aren’t engaged, etc.
- YouTube/Podcast production – including content generation, script writing, recording, editing, overlays, keyword research, adding descriptions, creating playlists, adding transcripts or show notes, repurposing if that’s something you choose to do.
- Team member onboarding & offboarding – SOPs for team members might include collecting key information such as their contact and tax information, giving them access to logins they will need to complete tasks, familiarizing them with team meeting schedules and agendas they will need to attend, acclimating them to your workflows and SOPs. When offboarding you’ll want to ensure you remove any access to passwords and documents or client accounts, finalize any payments for hours worked, and complete an exit interview, if applicable.
- Onboarding & offboarding new clients – Onboarding might include sending a proposal, invoice, and contract, sending a W9, and filing it with your accountant. Offboarding would include removing any logins and passwords from your password manager, having a wrap-up meeting to review how the project went and giving the client any next steps, sending any and all deliverables to the client if final payment has been made, and requesting a testimonial.
- Client Intake – SOPs for this might include sending a welcome email or welcome packet, granting access to a client portal or shared Google Drive, having a kickoff call, sending a client welcome gift, if applicable, and getting your team involved if they will be part of the project, getting access to any logins, passwords, or documents needed for the project.
These are just a few ideas. Remember your business is unique to you and you may have more or less than what I have included here.
How to Create SOPs Fast
The most important thing to remember is that SOPs don’t need to be complicated. These are internal-facing documents for you and your team. The easiest thing to do is when you are performing a task in your business, simply record it. I love Loom software. It’s free to use for videos up to five minutes
- Create a simple loom video
- Transcribe & format so it’s easy to read in a Google sheet on a Google drive
- Add to your favorite project management too in a specially designated SOP section
Final Thoughts on Using SOPs in Your Business
If you’re ready to save time and money with SOPs, I can help you create some systems and processes in your business as an online business manager and then work alongside you to create those much-needed SOPs. You can check out my list of services here, and schedule a call to see how we might be a fit in working together.