Maybe you already have SOPs in your business. Or maybe you read that title and thought “I have no idea what a SOP is but I definitely would like to scale and create more success!”.
For those who didn’t spend 10 years in the corporate space like me (kind of jealous of you if you didn’t haha) it’s totally fine not to know. So let me explain.
What on earth is a SOP anyway?
OK, so SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure.
In its simplest form, it is a list of steps you need to take to get something done. It doesn’t have to be anything fancier or more complicated than that.
But what is really cool about a SOP is that it is a way of standardising (clue was in the name) how something is done. To make sure it gets done right every time.
What do you mean you don’t see what’s so cool about that??
We’ll get on to why that is extremely useful - perhaps even critical - to being able to scale for more success in just a sec.
First I want to give you a little low-down on why I know so much about (and love) SOPs.
As I mentioned above, I spent 10+ years in the corporate space (in a huge global Investment Bank, seeing as you’re asking). I spent much of that time in one department which went from being an unorganised free-for-all to being a well-oiled machine, expanding easily and keeping clients happy while we were at it. The transformation of the small team of less than 20 people to 50+ people in the UK plus 4 other new teams globally in a short space of time was remarkable.
What helped to facilitate that change and growth? Yep, SOPs.
Would that rapid and successful scaling have been possible without SOPs? Unlikely.
So what on earth does this have to do with me and my business?
You’re not running a huge global investment bank (I presume). You don’t have 20 or more employees (I presume).
But what you would like at some point is to scale. Am I right?
And not just scale for the sake of it. But to scale for MORE success (however YOU define success).
Well, guess what? Without SOPs in place, you will find it extremely difficult to scale effectively and to maximise your success from scaling.
OK, I’m listening. Now tell me what’s so sexy about SOPs?
Here’s the thing, with my 6-month private coaching clients, I pretty much ALWAYS insist that they get decent SOPs in place.
Because I am a success coach, and I know from experience that having SOPs in place can both shorten and simplify the route to success.
However, I’ll be perfectly honest: sometimes my clients are a little reluctant to spend time creating SOPs. Time that could be spent on shinier, sexier stuff like creating podcasts, delivering webinars, hosting FB lives. After all, writing a SOP is essentially writing down a list of steps. That stuff can be a little dry.
OK, I’ve just told you why it might seem a little dry, but here’s why SOPs are sexy
What those reluctant clients of mine realise after I’ve coerced them into doing this is that having SOPs in place means that you can:
Easily identify problems/bottlenecks/stress points in your business activities and figure out ways to solve them
Streamline and/or automate some or all of your processes to free up more time for the things you enjoy and which make you the most money!
Easily delegate tasks to someone else, comfortable in the knowledge that they have decent instructions which enable them to complete the process in the exact way that you like it to be done
And who doesn’t want their problems solved and more time for their life or business?
What happens is, when you step back from performing an activity (or process) and look at it, in its entirety - from above, if you will - you start to notice all kinds of things such as...
“Oh my days, I change the way I do this thing each time”
“Why am I repeating this one step every time instead of…”
“I just realised I’ve totally been forgetting to…”
Which gives you the opportunity to fix those things and smooth those processes out.
How SOPs help you scale more successfully
Question: Who has time to create SOPs?
Answer: People who want to scale for success
So you might be sold on why putting SOPs in place could be a useful exercise to help your day-to-day business activities run more smoothly, but you may be wondering how this all relates to scaling?
Good, we just got to that part!
Let me ask you to stop for a second and imagine scaling your business TODAY. So TODAY you suddenly start serving twice, three times, ten times the people you currently serve in your business.
Imagine how messy things get if you are using haphazard, unorganised processes multiple times now in a day or week.
Would your current processes or systems be able to deliver consistently happy clients as your business expands?
Think about each activity you regularly perform outside of your CORE work (by CORE work I mean the thing your business is all about). If I told you that you MUST hand over ALL of these activities to a VA or other hired help today, how would you feel? A little panicked?
I think you can see what I’m getting at.
Without processes that are clearly laid out/written down, that have been improved, streamlined, automated where possible, then you are just growing what might now be a manageable mess into a large unwieldy beast.
If you have your SOPs in place, scaling can actually be a breeze. And the success felt from scaling is so much greater as you get to reap the rewards of scaling rather than scale first then clean up the mess created after.
A silly (but true) mantra I use with my clients is “nail it before you scale it”.
A small problem in your process becomes a big problem when you scale.
But a slick operation becomes a big, successful slick operation when you scale.
How to Tackle Your SOPs
Ok, let’s break this down.
Make a list of high-level activities in your business that you are currently doing yourself. Could be things like:
Publishing blog posts
Managing your Facebook group
Then, the next time you perform one of the activities just make a note (a Google Doc or Sheet will do) of each of the steps you take.
Save it, tick that one off the list.
See, not so hard, right?
Let’s look at an example…
Your weekly blog post
Perhaps each week you:
Write the blog post
Check for spelling/grammar errors
Upload to your blog
Find an accompanying image
Upload the image to your blog
Create a pinnable image in Canva
Upload the pinnable image to your blog
Add a content upgrade/lead magnet prompt to your blog post
Schedule the blog post to publish at a certain time
Draft an email to your list with a link to the blog post
Pin the image from the blog to a board/boards in Pinterest
You get the idea.
What could be done better?
When you list out your actions, you might immediately see that there are some ways you could improve your process.
E.g. maybe you could create a pin template in Canva with your branding that is super quick to change each time.
Then cast your eye over the list and think about handing it to someone else to help you with. What other information might they need to know?
E.g. where do you save your blog images to - do you have a folder with them all in? Which Pinterest boards do you pin your blog posts to?
Why you need SOPs in your business NOW (not tomorrow)
Maybe you’ve been reading this thinking, cool, sure thing, I’ll create some SOPs just before I plan to scale.
Don’t fall into that trap. Get them done now, otherwise, one of two things will happen:
You’ll delay scaling your business
You’ll scale without them and scale the messy parts of your business with it
I don’t want that for you.
Here’s the other reason why NOW is the best time.
People wait until AFTER they are really in need of help to hire it. Once someone is on board (and being paid an hourly rate) that is NOT the time to be writing procedures. To be realising your processes is massively inefficient.
Much better to be able to say, “Here: this is the SOP for the process I’ve hired you for, off you go” rather than to spend hours training them. Or worse still, have them muddle their way through and make mistakes.
So there we have it, a quick guide to all things SOPs and why and how they’ll help you to scale for more success.
As always, I’d love to know if you found this helpful and in particular I’d love you to tell me when you have written YOUR first SOP and any improvements to your processes you were able to make as a result. Hop into my Facebook Group - Self Made Mothers - and tell me all about it!
If you feel a bit stuck in your business, unsure how to even get consistent income months, let alone scale, I’m here to help you. Or if you are ready to step up and scale for success, I am also your lady.
Click here to book a FREE Discovery Call with me and we can talk about how I could support you in sorting out your social media strategy, boosting your sales confidence - and sales! - and setting up systems to automate and create passive income so that your business is working FOR YOU, not the other way around.