When you’re operating a small business, whether it’s a team of 1 or 10, you might be asking yourself, what’s the purpose of standard operating procedures (SOPs)?
As an online business manager who has worked with six-figure companies, I often find myself explaining what SOPs are and why they should be a nonnegotiable in any business of any size. There’s a misconception that outlining this information is only a necessity for larger companies with hundreds of employees making millions of dollars.
That’s a myth that I love to debunk because having standard operating procedures helps companies of any size improve their consistency, productivity, communication, and more.
What are Standard Operating Procedures?
Standard Operating Procedures, also known as SOPs, are the steps that need to be taken when handling routine operations within your company.
Do you remember being in grade school and having to write an informative paper about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? That’s essentially what an SOP is. It breaks down various procedures in your business to the simplest form.
You might develop an SOP for:
- How you run team meetings
- How you handle client questions and requests
- How discovery calls work
- How you onboard new team members
- How social media content is developed and scheduled
You can literally think about every part of your business – large and small – and outline standard operating procedures for them. Then, share them with your team, or if you’re a team of 1, keep for your reference and you will have on hand if/when you bring on a virtual assistant, freelancer, or online business manager in the future.
Now that you know what an SOP is, here are 6 reasons why your small business should have them in place.
When there is a handbook for how to handle the most common tasks in your business, you can increase the odds that things are done consistently.
Whether you’re doing them yourself and referring to your SOP, or if those on your team can refer to the information when managing specific tasks, consistency will benefit your business.
You want to run on one accord at all times, and the purpose of your standard operating procedure is to help you do just that.
Having standard operating procedures in place can also help you and your team perform more productively. A timeline is often included when developing SOPs so everyone has an idea of how long any given task should take.
Clarity is crucial for productivity, so instead of spending time wondering what to do next or how to do it, more time can be spent focusing on doing the task well and being productive in the process.
Produce High-Quality Work
When you can improve your consistency and productivity, you’re bound to create high-quality work most of the time. The purpose of standard operating procedures is to take the question out of what quality means for your company.
As long as everyone follows the SOPs, you can almost guarantee that the quality standard will be met. If not, you can look at the SOP or your team members, to determine where the disconnect is happening.
Having standard operating procedures allows you to have clear lines of communication between everyone involved in your business from yourself to other full-time employees, to online business managers, to freelancers.
When communication is clear about how to operate, there’s less confusion and room for error. As you update SOPs and share standards of procedures for new processes, you want to communicate with those whose position is relevant to the SOP to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Identify Areas for Improvement
As you write your SOPs, put them into use, and update them over time, you will likely find some procedures that would benefit from improvement.
Maybe the process doesn’t allow you to be as productive as possible, or there’s a way to save time or money or provide a better client experience somewhere along the way.
When you identify these areas of improvement, you want to review the SOP to determine how to adjust it. When you’re making changes to the standard of the procedure, consider incorporating those who use it regularly. They often have ideas about how things can be better if you ask them.
You can make it part of your process to review your SOPs quarterly to determine whether updates are needed.
Hire and Onboard New Team Members
You might find that you need to bring in more support at some point in your business. But maybe you’re not sure what exactly you want this new job description to look like.
Instead of trying to rack your brain and go by memory to determine what you need help with, you can review your standard operating procedures to identify the tasks you need support with and create the job description with this information in mind.
The SOP will also help you during the onboarding process to ensure that you know exactly what your new hire needs to be trained on and their responsibilities. You can provide the necessary training and also share the standard operating procedures for your new hire to keep on hand.
The Purpose of Standard Operating Procedures in Your Small Business
As a small business owner, you’ll find that the purpose of standard operating procedures spans far and wide. When you’re ready to put systems in place in your business to help you
- Boost your productivity and consistency
- Improve your communication and work quality
- Identify areas of improvement and create a better hiring and onboarding process
You’re ready for standard operating procedures.
As an online business manager, I help business owners like yourself document systems, detail automation, strategize procedures and create a business that will sustain without your 24/7 presence so you can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Are you ready to develop your standard operating procedures and other systems so you can live the CEO life you’ve always dreamed of?