When I start working with a new client, I ask for access to their SOPs — or standard operating procedures. Sometimes, clients have a whole folder ready to rock and other times… well. They look a little like deer caught in headlights.
If you’re not sure what SOPs are, I’ll cover that in a minute. Mostly, though, I want to talk about why SOPs are necessary for your business and how you can create them to move projects forward. If you’ve ever hesitated to create an SOP because you just don’t know if you really need SOPs, the answer is yes. Let’s dig into why.
What are SOPs?
SOP stands for standard operating procedures. SOPs are a way to organize and structure your business operations, from how you write and post blogs to how you onboard a new client or complete a specific project. They’re meant to create a standard (obviously) by which all tasks are completed in your business.
With more consistent outputs in your business — especially as your team grows — you’ll get the peace of mind you need, knowing your business is operating smoothly. Creating SOPs for your business can actually make your work easier, and make it easier for you to delegate work that you know isn’t your strength.
What makes a good SOP?
In order to create SOPs that are useable again and again, you want to make sure that you create ones that are:
SOPs that are easily transferable or shareable allow other team members to access the steps they need to execute. This means making Google Doc SOPs that are easily accessible, creating an “SOP table of contents,” or saving SOPs in a template in your project management system. However you decide to share the SOPs with your team and others, make sure it’s easy to find.
Easy to update
Make sure that you can easily update your SOPs after you’ve created them. No PDFs or difficult-to-change systems. While you want SOPs that are usable right out of the gate, things will change. New steps will be added to protect consistency. Creating editable SOPs gives you the opportunity to make changes whenever necessary.
Easy to understand
SOPs should always be easy to understand. Try to make it like a checklist, where anyone can go in and see each point, or a video that clearly demonstrates a specific step. The more simply you can put your SOP’s points, the more easily someone can follow it.
How to get started with SOPs
Have I sold you on why you need SOPs and what you need to make yours a success? Great, now let’s talk about how to make them.
Take a moment to think about some of the tasks you have to complete for your business right now. Is there a mental checklist you follow to get it done? If you were to really map out each of those tasks in a document, how easily can someone else complete the same task? Are they getting the same result as you? You might also want to take a closer look and see if there are mistakes or missteps that you foresee happening — could additional steps be added to cover those holes?
Honestly, the best advice here is to write it out, either by hand or in a Google or Word document. (I recommend Google, since it auto-saves, keeps an audit trail of changes, and everyone can access it!) Simply start with the first step. What do you do to start a project, onboard a client, or send that email? Move through the steps in order and write them out. I will also say that Loom is a great tool to visually create SOPs, if you’re having a hard time getting all the steps out of your head. Sometimes, when we record how we do something, we can see clearly the steps we had to take to get a finished product. Then, you can turn that video into a list form SOP, or you can simply send the video to someone to use as a training resource.
A note on video SOPs: Videos should be short and to the point, or else you should write out the steps from the video or provide a transcript. Nobody wants to watch a 30-minute video every time they need to do a task when they could just have a tab open with screenshots!
3 ways that you can implement SOPs into your business
Now that you know how to get started with your SOP creation process, let’s talk about which SOPs you might want to create first.
Building a process for onboarding new clients makes it so much easier to start working with someone. Having SOPs in place actually helps you (or your team) make sure you aren’t forgetting a critical step, like signing a contract, requesting documents or account access, etc. You can clearly list out every step in the onboarding process so you don’t have to start from scratch every time. A great client onboarding process would have things like email templates, contract templates, checklists to share with new clients, etc.
Just like with clients, you can establish a step-by-step process that makes bringing a new team member onboard easy. All of your team members will be able to go through the exact same process and understand how your business operates. Plus, you’ll probably share the other SOPs you’ve created with them, making SOP creation top-priority if you’re thinking about growing your team.
If you’ve ever read Clockwork by Mike Michaelowicz, you know about the “Queen Bee Role,” or QBR in business. Basically, this is the one thing you have to deliver for the business to continue serving people, like a great website design, Facebook ad strategy, a high-quality physical product, etc.
You need SOPs to protect the Queen Bee, and to make sure that whatever that deliverable is, you’re hitting the mark every time. These types of SOPs are focused on the proprietary process you’ve created. For example, if you’re a Facebook ads strategy brand, you may have a very specific research and reporting method that you need to teach your team to complete. This is what makes you different from other Facebook ads brands out there, so it’s super important that everyone who works on the strategy knows this exact process.
This is where SOPs aren’t just nice to have — they can make or break your business.
Finding success with SOPs
I could talk about the importance of SOPs for a while. They eliminate inconsistencies and give anyone on your team the ability to produce the same result every single time. This is huge for risk management — you don’t want sub-par products going out that could harm your reputation or even your customers. Plus, SOPs ensure that, as your brand grows, your clients or customers never feel like you’re losing your attention to detail; everything is high-quality across the board.
Once you have your SOPs completed, someone on your team can follow your step-by-step process, eliminating the need for you to do everything inside your business. This is the magic of SOPs!
I truly believe that SOPs are the gateway to scaling your business. If you want a jump-start, and some help creating SOPs without over-thinking every tiny detail, check out my standard operating procedure templates.
These SOP templates will help you with:
- Giving clear-cut guidance to your team when working on new projects
- Providing consistency so your biz can run like a well-oiled machine
- Eliminating bottlenecks in your workflow
You can grab them today and have your SOPs in just a few hours. A low-cost option for setting your business on a solid foundation. If you know you need to get your stuff together so you can save time, stress, and money in the long run, you need these templates.