What are SOPs and how to build them

SOPs are a much-underestimated tool to reduce stress, overwhelm, friction AND save you time in your business. The best part? They’re actually pretty easy to create and don’t require any fancy tools. So what are SOPs?

SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure and it’s the #1 task business owners procrastinate the most (don’t quote me on that, I’m just speaking from personal experience but I know it’s up there 😅). Because creating SOPs is what most consider the most boring and tedious task ever. And honestly, it’s hard to blame them when you realize SOPs exist for LITERALLY EVERYTHING YOU DO IN YOUR BUSINESS.

  • You create content for social media – there’s an SOP for that
  • How you handle leads – there’s another SOP for that
  • How you work with clients – another SOP
  • Onboard and off-boarding clients – ANOTHER SOP
  • What happens during a consultation appointment – SOP
  • Recording your podcast – …SOP
  • Doing your bookkeeping/accounting – …. I’m not writing it again. You get it.

Yes, it looks super daunting and yes, it’s a lot!

And I’m telling you if you haven’t done it yet, you should write your SOPs.

And you’re going “Damn it Anne-So! What the hell! Where am I going to find all this time! I do SO MANY things in my business already!”I know! I’m sorry – well actually, not really. Because SOPs (as daunting as creating them seems) will make you less stressed and less overwhelmed.

Why should you even care (and spend precious time doing this?)

1.You can turn off the brain (somewhat at least)

Because you already spent time outlining every step in the process, there’s no more “Oh shit, what’s next? Oh shit, what do I do?”.

  • Get a message on Instagram from someone interested in purchasing your product/working with you? No problem – follow your steps for new leads.
  • They signed your contract and are ready to work with you? Great! There’s the outline of everything they need to know to start the work.
  • They’re done their regular treatment with you? Here’s what they need to know to keep up the good work!
  • You get a KILLER idea for a podcast or newsletter? You know where to put it and what to do with it.

There’s no more scrambling to figure out what comes next. Or posting something and realizing you forgot the call the action, that your post is RIDDLED with typos or the links don’t work on launch day 🙃 You know EXACTLY what needs to be done.

And all that stress is draining brain power you can use to actually *do* the task (and freaking knock it out of the park!).

Oh, and did I mention this can be a huge time saver too once they’re built? Because finding the information regarding said process becomes stupidly easy?

When I write SOPs for myself and clients, I make sure EVERYTHING is there: the links to the other apps/tools involved and their log-in credentials, where to find the pictures to attach to the posts you write, what to look out for when proofreading and editing, etc. I even recommend putting screenshots so everything is super duper clear.

Am I going overboard? Not at all. While all this information might be a touch much for whoever does this on a regular basis, you’ll love having all this info for processes you only do every few months (such as reviewing your goals or your books/cash flow). It’s also way easier now to delegate tasks, train a new employee or finally hire a VA because EVERYTHING is clearly outlined and easy to find 🙌🏻.

2. SOPs facilitate collaboration

Unless you’re running a one-person show in your business, odds are some of your processes might involve more than 1 person. For instance, if you work with a VA or a marketing agency and you get to proofread/approve all posts before they’re published on your social media.

Scenario #2: you’re 2 coaches running an online coaching business – you might want to have each other’s input on new programs you’re launching! Or scenario 3, one of you is more tech-savvy so you write the content and your partner uploads the content and schedules it.

You get the picture.

The point is that collaboration is WAAAAY easier when you know EXACTLY what is needed to move to the next step. And it’s a key tool to make sure everything that needs to be done gets done and nothing falls through the cracks. Additionally, good SOPs make it extra clear who’s responsible for what. The results? Less getting mad at your partners 😅 and everyone’s happier!

Now if I haven’t convinced you of the necessity of SOPs, I’ve got one more card up my sleeve;

3. SOPs alleviate *some* uncertainty

This point is especially true for teams – one of you will fall sick at some point and will need to step away from work for some time.

Granted, stepping away for a day or two shouldn’t create too many problems but what happens when it’s multiple weeks? While your team will undoubtedly have to adjust to the extra workload, at least you’ll have SOPs to rely on. SOPs provide detailed steps to perform all the tasks along with screenshots, links and log-in credentials. Whoever picks up these tasks knows exactly what needs to be done.

See what I did there? Anyways, my point is that if someone falls sick, yes it’s extra work but you know HOW to do the work. There’s no scrambling and feeling bad because you call your sick coworker 15x in a day to do their tasks.

Hopefully, I’ve now convinced you of the need to have SOPs… but that doesn’t change the fact that it can be a big project.

How to build your SOPs

Reading this, you might be tempted to simply record yourself with Loom as you’re performing said process and I’m here to say – don’t do it.

Small businesses evolve fast – so does technology. Therefore, processes are always evolving. That’s fine – if there’s a better/easier to do something, that should be THE way. However, your SOP documentation should allow for regular changes and updates to keep up with the times.

Back to your Loom video – are you really going to re-film the process every few weeks? Or edit the video? Hell no. That’s why your SOPs should be in writing (along with screenshots for visual support!). Google Docs are an easy to do this but my preferred way is using ClickUp. As I like to say, let’s keep things centraliiiiiiiiiized!

Who writes SOPs?

Have the person responsible for this process write it out. After all, they’re the best person for the job! They know how to do it and might even have suggestions to improve it!

This person should also be the person responsible for the maintenance/updates of said SOP (since they’re the ones using it all the time!). If this is an SOP that is used regularly, the SOP can be updated when it is used. Otherwise, I like to set a date when I review my SOPs to make sure they are always up to date.

Yes, writing SOPs can be daunting but keep in mind – these aren’t set in stone! The purpose is to have something to work off of. But you can and should make edits as your workflow changes, as you find better ways to do this process or as your tools get updated.

Know someone who’s been slacking on their SOPs? Send them this blog post! If you’ve been struggling to create yours or want more structure in your business to feel less stressed and overwhelmed – let’s talk! If you liked this article, check out my other blog posts for system tips, my favourite tools, mindset and more!

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