As entrepreneurs, we tend to try and do everything ourselves. But, every successful entrepreneur knows that the key to scaling a business lies in delegating tasks by having documented standard operating procedures (SOPs). So, why don’t more companies have them? Well, SOPs are a pain in the butt, or at least they can be. Most of us are so busy, we barely have time to “do” - let alone document what we do!
Documenting procedures goes in the “working-on-the-business” category, as opposed to the “working-in-the-business” one. And just in case you’ve forgotten why documenting is important, here’s a reminder:
1. Frees you up - Documenting repetitive tasks frees up your time by getting them out of your head and into someone else. That way, you can focus on growing your business.
2. Reduces Stress - When processes are documented, employee turnover is less stressful. New employees can be trained quickly since tasks have been documented and refined over time.
3. Increase Efficiency – if you document your procedures with easy to follow directions, using illustrations, screenshots, videos and check boxes, you’ll reduce errors and re-do’s resulting in increased productivity and efficiency.
4. Increase Business Value – if you are looking to sell your business at some point, having your procedures documented will increase your company’s value. The price a buyer would be willing to pay will be that much higher if they’ve got the instruction manual for running your business at their fingertips!
Alright, so I’ve convinced you that documenting procedures is important, but that’s not necessarily going to get you to do it. What you probably need now is a guide, a template, a quick and dirty “how-to”, right? So, here are some tips:
1. Start with creating the Title of the Procedure. Think big picture, like “Qualifying Sales Leads” or “Processing Payroll”. Consider this the framework, so that by the time the reader reads through the document, he/she will know how to “Qualify a Sales Lead” or “Process Payroll”.
2. Next, think of the major steps that go into the procedure from start to finish. Each of those steps will have its own title. My suggestion is to write down the title of all of the steps first. Don’t try documenting all the details of each step just yet. If you do, you’ll find it harder to actually finish the procedure.
3. Once you have the title of the procedure, and all the steps, it will be time to fill in the details. Take your time with this, and don’t feel like you have to do it all in one sitting. Just document the details for one step. If you feel like it, do the next step. If not, put it away and come back to fill in the details of the next step the next time you are running the procedure. The trick here is to, as the saying goes, eat the elephant one bite at a time.
4. Use tools and technology to make this as easy as possible. Some of our favorites are SweetProcess software for easy formatted process documentation, Snippet for screenshot captures, and Loom Screen Recording Software.
That’s it, pretty simple. Just takes a commitment and some discipline. Get your employees to document all your company-wide procedures, and I promise you will have much more peace of mind.