SOPs for online business

HOW TO IMPLEMENT A STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE FOR YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS

Are you an online business owner looking to scale? Do you feel frustrated because you have become the bottleneck of your business? If this resonates with you, keep reading!

There are two main things that you need to start doing to be able to run your business like a Superstar CEO.

  1. Implementing processes
  2. Hiring a team

You may not have realized it yet, but you already have processes implemented in your business. A process is how you do things in your company. As simple as that.

But the problem is that many of these processes exist only in your head, and that is probably the main reason why you have become the bottleneck of your business. People are coming to you on a daily basis asking questions about how to do this or that. Sounds familiar? I thought so.

The secret sauce to scale your business and stop being the bottleneck is… Standard Operating Procedures (aka SOP).

I know. It doesn’t sound very attractive. But these three words will soon become your BFF. (You can also call it “Operations Manual” if that sounds more human to you!)

An Operations Manual or SOP is a collection of all the instructions that have to be followed to operate your business. Basically, it’s a bunch of (organized) documentation where anyone can find out how you get things done in your company.

You should have processes for everything: from creating a new blog post to managing customer support. Every single task should be documented.

The alternative to not having an Operations Manual is having your team asking how to do things over and over again. If you invest a bit of time in creating it, in the end, it will be worth it.

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

 

HOW TO CREATE A SOP

 

STEP 1. MAKE A TASKS LIST AND GROUP THEM BY AREA.

Make a list of all the tasks that you perform in your business and group them by area. This list doesn’t need to follow a particular order yet. Simply go through everything that you have to do in your business and take note of it.

  • Newsletter
  • Social media management
  • Analytics
  • Onboarding new clients
  • Creating new blog posts
  • Product launch
  • Customer emails

Once you have your list, group them by area. For example, newsletter, social media, analytics and blog posts will fall into the Marketing category.

 

STEP 2 – ORGANIZE YOUR SOP

You are going to store your SOP somewhere your team has access to. The best option is to keep it in the cloud. A simple and cheap way to do this is using Google Drive or Dropbox. Create folders for each category and subfolders for all the different tasks and processes. Be as organized as possible!

Another option is to create a Wiki using Google Sites. It allows you to create a company intranet where you can share info securely and your team can collaborate. This is also free and there are a lot of templates you can choose from, but my advice is to create yours from scratch.

 

STEP 3. START DOCUMENTING

You don’t have to document everything all at once. In fact, creating a SOP is an ongoing task. Every time you perform a task, document it.  That means that next time, someone else can follow your SOP and achieve the same results. If you have a team, ask them to start documenting everything they do. That way you will go much faster than if you do it on your own.

The structure of the document should be something like this:

  • Create one document per task and give it a clear title.
  • Describe the process step by step in writing. Use numbered lists and bullet points. Write clear and short sentences that anyone can understand. You’re not writing a novel but instructions.
  • Use images and video. Add screenshots to improve comprehension and whenever possible, make a video of your screen and make sure you record yourself explaining what you are doing. Visuals are much more effective than words.
  • Decide who will own this task, who is responsible for completing the task.
  • Specify what systems or tools you need to perform this task.

So that’s it! Not so scary after all, right?

 

DOWNLOAD A STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE TEMPLATE (FREE) (1)

 

Wait! Before you leave, I want to give you two valuable tips:

  • Start by documenting the tasks that you should NOT be doing so that you can delegate them faster. For example, customer support or accounting.
  • Just because you’ve documented a process, it doesn’t mean that you cannot change it. The way you do things in your company can change as you and your business evolve and grow. And that’s a good thing! But always remember to update your SOP to reflect those changes! Otherwise, you may end up with a mix of old and new documentation and that doesn’t guarantee that your team will perform tasks they way they should.

 

CAN YOU DO IT?

For many business owners, the idea of writing SOP or Operations Manual is overwhelming. I have worked with many business owners who have done an outstanding job at documenting all their processes and tasks. But it is not unusual to meet business owners who don’t have any structure or systems in place.

Having SOPs will set you free! It will allow you to start delegating and scale your business faster. If you don’t have time to get it done, you may want to hire an Online Business Manager to give you a hand with it. It is a great way to let someone with a structured mind get it done for you if you don’t have time. If possible, your team members should also start documenting everything they do. The next time they perform a task, ask them to document it. In a few months, you will have your SOP ready!

I would love to know: Does creating SOPs for your business sound too overwhelming? How do you delegate tasks? Let me know in the comments below!

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