SOPs or standard operating procedures might be as sexy as your dad in a mankini, but they are vital for building a successful, manageable and scalable business.
At the We Are Podcast 2017 event, during a very entertaining panel discussion on automation, the audience had a chance to pick the brains of four successful entrepreneurs who have been there and done that. Their thoughts on SOPs differed somewhat depending on the type and size of the business they were operating, but essentially it came down to one thing – you gotta have ‘em. Here’s what came out:
Why do Entrepreneurs Ignore SOPs?
Kate Erickson from Entrepreneur on Fire summed it up neatly. The most common thing she hears when she asks entrepreneurs why they’re not creating systems is: I’m going to create the SOP the next time I do the thing. Inevitably, they are so busy doing their thing they don’t have time to do the SOP. It’s counterproductive.
Start with Good SOPs for Future Scaling
“SOPs are absolutely critical,” says Danielle Lewis, CEO and co-founder of the influencer-marketing platform, Scrunch. “Especially when you’re starting out there is a huge desire to be creative, connect with customers and build these awesome things, but processes tend to go out the window,” she says.
But as Danielle points out, if you want to scale at any point, you have to have them. “You are only one person, there are only 24 hours in the day, and your team is exactly the same, and unless you implement those processes, you’re not going to get the most out of everybody,” she says.
Make it Easy: The Tools the Pros Recommend
The panel members had a variety of thoughts on the tools they use and recommend for creating and implementing their standard operating procedures. Again a lot of it came down to the type and size of the business.
When you’re starting out, the consensus was to keep it simple. As Carla Pappas, co-founder of The Merrymaker Sisters website and podcast, points out: “It depends on how big your team is and how big your business is. Google docs, Trello and Slack work perfectly well for us.”
Nicole Baldinu, co-founder of the $100 MBA and Webinar Ninja, says her team was previously using free tools such as Google docs and Google Spreadsheets, email and Slack, but everything became too spread out. Since then the team has moved to Basecamp for their project management and communication within the team. This helped them centralise their information, and by being very systematic about where they place things in Basecamp it makes life a lot easier.
Kate and the team at Entrepreneur on Fire are fans of Process Street (www.process.st). She says it helps you with documentation templates to help get you started, if you’re not a systems or process oriented person. It will also offer you recommendations. If you want to put together a process for customer outreach, for example, it will help you get started.
Kate has also found Process Street a great repository for procedure documentation, as well as a method for structuring your procedures. The tool also enables you to create checklists that your team members can refer to, and you can even include instructional videos.
Author: Ronsley Vaz
Ronsley is the founder & chief day dreamer at AMPLIFY. He is an author, speaker & serial entrepreneur.
He has a Masters’ degree in Software Engineering and an MBA in Psychology and Leadership. He is known as the creator of We Are Podcast – the first Podcasting Conference in the Southern Hemisphere, and the host of The Bond Appetit Podcast and Should I Start a Podcast. He has an audience of over 3 million in 133 countries.