A standard operating procedure is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations. WikipediaAccording to Wikipedia.com
In other words, Standard Operating Procedures outline exactly how you want business to happen. Although Wikipedia defines it as complex routine operations, I believe every process in your business should be defined (even the simple processes).
Everything you do in business has a system or process to it. Everything from how you start your computer, answer the phone and even accept visitors.
So, why does your business need Standard Operating Procedures?
#1 – It gets how you want things done out of your head.
Have you ever been on vacation and one of your team calls you because they want clarification on how to handle something? This is because you have not shared with your team how you want things handled within a situation. Instead, that knowledge resides in your head. SOPs help you to get that out of your head and onto paper. This empowers your team to make decisions in your absence knowing exactly how you want things done.
#2 – Anyone can step into your business (even if they have never worked there before).
With SOPs absolutely anyone could step into your business at any time. They would simply pick up your SOPs and understand step by step how you do business. Including each task in your business. This is one of the reasons it is so important that your SOPs are written in common every day language. The key is to avoid industry jargon and terms that could mean something different to different people.
#3 – It simplifies the training process.
One of the biggest demands on our time as a business owner is training. Imagine being able to hand a new team member a manual that outlined step by step how to perform every aspect of their job. This is what is possible with SOPs. The work you put in today in preparing your SOPs will pay off again and again.
#4 – It allows continuity in your business when people leave.
Having SOPs means your new team members will understand not only how to perform tasks, but also the why behind the task. This means a full understanding of your clients needs and very little learning time needed to “get up to speed.” How the previous team member handled a task is exactly how the new team member will handle it too!
#5 – It allows you to work above your business rather than in or on it.
Working in your business is defined as the day to day tasks and client facing activities. Working on your business is defined as the tasks that allow your business to grow. The goal of most entrepreneurs is to work on their business and hire team to work in the business. However, with SOPs you can take that one step further and work above your business. To me, working above your business means choosing exactly when you want to work and what you want to do. All other tasks are able to be delegated because your SOPs not only walk through the step by steps, but provide the why behind the task. This means others can perform the tasks in the exact manner and with the exact understanding as you would.
#6 – It gives your business value and you have something tangible to sell. (Should you want to).
Imagine at the end of your career having something tangible to sell …
SOPs are what make that possible. They completely take the guesswork out of how you have been able to find success. The new owner is able to pick up your SOPs and complete every aspect of your business with ease. This is so valuable to a purchaser of your business. This can exponentially increase the amount of money someone is willing to pay for your business.