Wanna avoid mistakes in your business when you start hiring people to help you?
Perfectionism is one of the main reasons (excuses) I hear from people as to why they haven’t yet hired an assistant. I’ve got bad news and good news.
The bad news is that mistakes will sometimes happen. You make them, I make them and the peeps you hire will sometimes make them as well.
The good news is that there’s a great way to minimize them and it’s pretty simple.
The Importance of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
SOPs are the backbone of my 2 online businesses. It sounds a lot fancier than it is but the truth is that 3 years ago when it was just me and 1 very part time VA it began as a simple google doc we shared where she or I would list out the steps of every procedure.
Why? Because procedures that live in your head are not doing anyone any good. And it’s impossible for your team to read your mind and do things the way you do them. Literally impossible.
Over time our SOPs have graduated into an internal company wiki. It’s a living breathing document that we update almost daily as things change slightly with tools we use, with ways we’ve found to optimize our processes or apps and tasks we’ve decided to stop using entirely.
It’s our company manual, and it goes into a crazy level of detail.
I know it might sound crazy but there’s no such thing as too much detail. I’ve more than once realized we didn’t go into enough detail when a task we haven’t done in 6 months no longer makes any sense.
As usual, the credit for this manual goes mostly to my team since they are the ones that mostly update it. My contribution to it is mostly screen recording something and handing it off to Vanessa to type up in our wiki attaching the video.
Why you need to start building out your SOPs TODAY
Even if you don’t have any help in your biz today, chances are there are plenty of tasks you’re doing in your biz that certainly don’t need to be done by you.
If you were to build out your SOPs all in one go it would likely be a full time gig for a month and I don’t necessarily think that’s a great idea.
That’s said, if you were to hire someone tomorrow you’d be spending a heck of a lot of time bringing them up to speed.
A good compromise
If you haven’t yet taken any of your processes out of your head and documented them somehow, start by simply screen recording them (on Quicktime, Screenflow, or a dozen other applications that do this) explaining them as you go and just name them and put them on dropbox.
9 times out of 10, when a mistake happens in my biz it’s not because someone was careless but because that procedure wasn’t clear or was missing a step. The good news is that once you fix it, it’s almost guaranteed to not happen again.
One key takeaway I got from the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber is that people aren’t “broken”; systems are. Let’s fix that.
The best place to start
If the thought of building out procedures is overwhelming.
A- I get that
B- Start with the recurring tasks that over the course of a few weeks are taking up a good bit of your time. Chances are, those are the ones you’re gonna want to get off your plate first.
Don’t forget to update it
The only way this’ll work is if you and your team constantly have your SOPs open and are updating them as needed. One rule we recently implemented within my team is to always have SOPs open (hat tip to my friend Dan Martell for this suggestion). Seems excessive at first but it’s the only way to practically mistake-proof your biz.
And when you have several people that sometimes need to step in for each other and pick up where the other left off, it’s essential.
Every day for the next week ask yourself “do I absolutely need to be doing this task myself? Or, “could someone else do it for me?” If it’s the latter, which is by the way probably 80% of the tasks in your business, go ahead and turn on a screen recorder and do the tasks while narrating the exact steps that you are taking. Then toss that video in a Dropbox and deal with it later if you don’t have a team right now. (For an easy free tool use Quicktime).