Running your own business is exciting, isn’t it?
If you’re like a lot of people, one of the things that makes it so appealing is that you can do things your way instead of following standard procedures that have been set in place by some corporate bureaucrat who’s never even done your job. At least, that’s how it was for me.
Even though many experts recommended using scripts for client meetings and creating procedure manuals, I resisted for a long time, for a number of reasons. Maybe you can relate to some of them too.
Reasons not to implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
“Reading from a script doesn’t feel authentic. How can I build a relationship with a prospective client if I sound like a telemarketer?”
“I haven’t fine-tuned my systems yet.”
“Standard procedures will stifle my creativity.”
“I do a lot of “one off” jobs, and I’ll probably never perform those same tasks again.”
“I do too many different things in my business to document all of them!”
If you can you think of any others, please leave a comment at the end of this article.
Learning the Hard Way
As the years went by, my business was thriving and I loved my work, yet I found myself struggling with the same frustrations time and time again. Something had to change.
Implementing new systems for managing my email, tasks, and calendar as well as an appointment scheduling system were an excellent starting point. I then established a formal process for managing client projects.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the impact this would have on my business! And having everything running smoothly has had the added bonus of allowing me to sleep better, enjoy my leisure time more thoroughly, and stay on top of things even when family emergencies have pulled my focus away from my business.
Dispelling the Myths
Now that I’ve personally experienced the benefits of adopting Standard Operating Procedures, I realize that my reasons for not doing so earlier were really just excuses.
- Having a script only makes you inauthentic if you read from it like a robot instead of allowing the conversation to flow freely. Not having a script means you might forget to ask everything you need to know in order to write a proposal or move forward with a project – either of which will slow you down, and may even make you appear less professional.
- Your systems will evolve as your business grows, but that doesn’t mean you can’t document the way you’re doing things right now. It’s easier to update a procedure than to write one from scratch.
- Rather than stifling your creativity, having systems in place for your administrative and financial issues will free up your time and energy so you can be even more creative where it really matters.
- If you rarely do certain tasks, that’s all the more reason to document how to do them! You might spend hours figuring it out the first time, but if you don’t do it again for several months or even years, why waste time and energy figuring it out a second time?
- When you form the habit of documenting what you do as you do it, it really doesn’t take a lot of extra time. And if you’re really doing “too many different things, ” maybe it’s time to think about specializing in what you do best and enjoy the most!
The bottom line is that it’s your business, so you get to write your own procedures. And if they’re not working as well as they should, you don’t have to check with your boss before you adapt them.
Additional Reasons to implement Standard Operating Procedures
- Having systems in place means that you’re always prepared for clients’ questions about your policies and procedures, and that all clients receive the same message.
- Administrative work can be less of a chore when you have processes, forms, and templates for all the typical situations you encounter in your business.
- When you delegate tasks to subcontractors or employees, you can ensure that they have everything they need to complete tasks the same way that you would, without the need for extensive one-on-one training.
- You’ll have a documented plan which can be carried out if anything prevents you from operating your business.
Although developing your SOP is a bigger job once you’ve been in business a while (since you likely have more procedures to document and less time to devote to the project), it’s never too late! If you don’t yet have SOPs for your business, I strongly encourage you to get started as soon as possible. I’ve listed a few helpful resources below.
Disclosure: This section includes affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. These are all products I have tried myself and highly recommend.
In his perennial bestseller, Gerber shows how the working model that makes franchises successful can apply to businesses of all types and sizes. Ideal for new business owners, but it’s never too late to get things right!
This book asks a lot of hard questions designed to help you get out of your own way. I’ve only read it once, but will definitely read it again.
This is the program that really turned things around for me. Designed specifically for WordPress consultants, the tools and techniques will be valuable to anyone running a digital business.
Do you have any advice to add?
What other resources do you recommend?
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I’m a Web Designer and Care Plan Specialist who loves helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.