Recently we did a series of articles on standard operating procedures for small business. Links to these articles are at the bottom of this article. In this article we address small business sytems specifically for solopreneurs.
Let’s face it, when you are a solopreneur you often ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ because it is just you. But systems can save you time and increase your productivity immensely.
Don’t kid yourself, Standard Operating Systems (commonly known as SOP’s) are not just for big business, they are for EVERY business. You may be a solopreneur or a small business with a few employees. SOP’s are an invaluable tool for making sure that your business functions run smooth and are uniform.
Let’s take a closer look at why you need to get on board with SOP’s in your business.
Firstly, there are a set of processes and procedures for every action in your business. You require these procedures to run your business successfully, regardless of the size of the business.
In most cases as a solopreneur, you probably work in an environment that already has a number of SOP’s in place. The problem is that they are only in your head. The truth is that you need to review, write down and discuss your habits in the workplace so you can visually see whether your habits are good or bad.
Just because you were trained to do it this way doesn’t always mean that it is the best way, or the safest, the most economical, the simplest, or the way the customer wants it to be.
I once worked as a sales trainer in a company and we had a very successful sales process that allowed us to train new people quickly and successfully. It was time tested and true.
However the toughest part of my job was getting people to stay on track because everyone loved to be ‘creative’ and change the process to suit their needs.
Whenever a salesperson was having trouble closing a sale, they would call me and I would go with them on a sales call. Inevitably it was always the same issue. Their ‘creativity’ led them astray from the process that they were taught and they were not as effective as they should be.
This is a universal problem and applicable in most business large or small.
The sales SOP that we were teaching was in place because it worked, it was effective, it was simple to follow and it was time tested.
You may be good at what you do because you have ‘your way’ of doing things, but maybe if you looked at what you do and documented every step of your process, you would recognize where you could improve and be better. That’s why you are in business for yourself – to be the best at what you do and be successful. Right?
OK, now let’s imagine that you have grown your plumbing business to where you need to hire someone to help you. You hire someone and you expect that they are certified to do the plumbing work.
After a few weeks on the job the customer complaints start to come in. You know, things like smoking on the premise, leaving a mess after the job, showing up late, and not wearing or keeping a mask on under the COVID19 rules.
Sure, the guy you hired could do the plumbing work but didn’t really care about the rest, you know, ‘the customer stuff’.
Would you not think that you need something to guide your new hire on EVERY STEP OF THE JOURNEY.
If let free to do things his/her way, you may find that business may get smaller rather than bigger.
There is also the area of compliance. Once you start a business, you then have a responsibility to keep records and file taxes.
One report I read stated that poor record keeping is one of the top reasons that small businesses fail.
You certainly need a process in this area, especially if you hire an employee.
No industry is exempt from taxes, so you want a system to enable you to feel safe.
There are endless reasons for setting up systems in your business regardless of the size.
I will end this with an example of how the lack of SOP’s in a business almost cost the owner his business.
My friend James started his food business in a ‘Gourmet Food Truck’. Now James was a ‘big personality’ so to speak, and he did well.
After some time he decided to get a second truck. Of course he had to hire someone to operate it.
He hired and trained a person for his new truck.
Well James’s idea of training was ‘here are the keys… good luck’. He felt that his name would be enough.
However, his new hire happened to be rather poor at keeping the truck kitchen clean. Unfortunately when the food inspectors did their regular inspection, they closed the truck down for not being up to health standards.
James had to work twice as hard now to just keep his reputation.
He learned his lesson and developed a step by step manual of ‘how to’s’ for his business.
Life as a self-employed small business owner is hard enough. Help yourself and develop your own SOP’s.
Check out the ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ course that includes east templates in the members area of the Academy. If you are not yet a member, click here to check it out.
Here are the links to other articles (and a free template to get started):
Standard Operating Procedures – What, Why, Where and When?
Free SOP Template
Systems for Self-Employed Business Owners
Writing Your First Standard Operating Procedure
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Ed Carey, AMG, LLC