6 Practical Tips for SOPs

SOPs, standard operating procedures, are critical when establishing your team. They ensure that everyone works like a well-oiled machine and they ensure that things can run smoothly without your eyes on every task being handled. Yet, despite the extreme importance of them, they can seem quite daunting. Where do you start? How do you start? What format do you use? The list of questions goes on. Odds are, you’ve read our blog on building a team and now things are really rolling!  Today we are excited to share 6 practical tips for SOPs so you can feel confident as you onboard new team members!

Get your systems out of your head and down on paper! 

Paper, a voice memo, a Google doc, a note; whatever it takes to get your SOPs in a format that you can visually see. The systems and operating procedures can not live and die with you. You need to extract them and get them down. It does not have to be clean or perfect; just get it out! The fine tuning of this document can all come later. 

To start, map out your workflow: how do you start the day, what tasks do you regularly complete, what are common FAQs you face, and where do you store/organize your work? Once you have mapped it out, take time each day over the course of a few weeks to map out what that task looks like. Don’t attempt to do it all in a day (you know what they say about Rome!) or you will become super overwhelmed. Instead, just start with a piece of your workflow and go from there.

Let’s Break It Down

For example, if mapping out your social media content is a huge part of your weekly workflow,  stop and record how often you post, where you post, what you use to create your graphics, where you house your graphics, how far ahead you plan, where you store drafted captions, and what you use for your hashtag bank. We all know YOU know how to do it but act as if you were teaching someone for the first time. The more clear you can be in your SOPS, the more efficient your processes will be and the less hands on you will have to be as things get running.

Know what to document. 

Let’s get even more specific here! You might be wondering what needs to be included in my SOPs and what do I need to be certain that I document. We like to follow these four components:

  1. Delivery of your Services
  2. Running Your Business
  3. Being on the Team (For employees) 
  4. Selling Your Services (The owner shares this last)

Pretend that you had to go out of town for a month…pick somewhere fun because we are pretending! What would your team need to know in order to, not only, keep things afloat but experience great success in your absence? Breaking down the delivery of your services (platforms, consistency, and organization), how your business runs (day-to-day operations), being on the team (collaboration and communication), and selling your services is critical to the success of your business. The whole reason you are building a team is so that you can take time off, work less, and enjoy work more! Why would you want to omit key components that make it impossible for you to step away?

Set priorities.

It took you a great deal of time to build your business and odds are, things run different now than they did in the beginning. When you think about the amount of time and effort put in to build your day-to-day operations, you will feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment! That said, you can’t dump all of those systems and processes on a person in a single day. If it took you weeks to build it, it should take you weeks to distribute it. This is why prioritizing is a critical component to developing and delivering your SOPs.

You want to be sure that your SOPs are shared based upon what’s going to be used first and what’s most valuable for your team to know. By this point, you’ve already pulled your daily systems and gotten them down on paper (or another preferred format) and you’ve organized them into the four categories in step 2. Now you need to sift through and determine what is most important and how soon it will be needed. Eventually all SOPs will be delivered to your staff but you can’t let them drink from a fire hose or they will become overwhelmed and less efficient. So take the time to break it down into a road map that feels the most logical to you!

Use both paper and video. 

As you begin to take your SOPs and fine tune them in a document that feels more like a training tool and less like the brain dump it started as in step 1, you are going to want to consider paper and video. There are many processes that can easily be recorded on paper. Honestly, paper is the easiest to update or scan. However, you WILL want to include video for specific portions of your processes because some things are truly better taught via video than as written text. You will want to note that SOPs do change and do require updates. This means you may need to re-record videos as time goes on. This is why including a combination of the two is best for your sanity and the good of the team!

Build an outline of the process, first.

Building an outline can be compared to a skeleton. You want to first be sure that you have all of the critical components (arms, legs, head, etc). Once the skeleton is there, you can add the next layer, the next layer, the next layer, etc. until your skeleton is no longer a skeleton but a full human! When making your SOPs you want to do the same! Start with an outline to ensure you have all of the critical components. Then add in your details, notes, videos, and more. 

SOPs never seem to be done.

We hate to break it to you but SOPs are not something you can check off your list and never revisit again. Things are constantly changing, so schedule time to update them on an ongoing basis and expect to make updates based upon major changes (i.e. change CRM systems, or significant changes in  your sales process). Consider your SOPs live documents (here we go…back to that skeleton again!) because they will never remain exactly the same. This is ok! As a matter of fact, this is GOOD!! As your business evolves, so will your processes. Having a place to come back to and edit will serve you and your team well. 

A little wisdom to share.

We will leave you with some pro advice: Remember what SOPs are used for. They’re a tool to help your team perform the activities you want them to do, in the correct way. If that’s happening, you’re good. And we don’t get ‘credit’ for great SOPs that don’t get used. So don’t obsess on your SOPs, focus on your team. If you are looking for more resources on how to focus on your team, be sure to download our FREE Ultimate Guide

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