5 Steps to Be Better Prepared for Next Year

We have all been through a lot this year. Our businesses have been affected and changed in ways we could not have anticipated. We have learned quite a bit about being better prepared for the unexpected and showed immense creativity. It will help us as we prepare for next year.

However, many of the problems business owners and managers face have more to do with running the business without operating procedures. I have seen this time and time again. This is not just small businesses. The importance is placed on income-producing activities and less on the operating procedures that support them. I found this problem many times with my business coaching clients. Sadly, it is quite prevalent among small businesses. The owners are so busy working in their businesses they have little time to work on their business growth and new income streams.

Ignoring Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will create problems for the business, your team, and the ability to scale the business. I understand this well. When I started Rivera Business Development I funded the startup. I did not want to owe money before generating income and chose not to borrow. It helped me focus on the income-producing activities. Often, this type of startup is referred to as bootstrapped and can be beneficial. With less debt comes the opportunity for becoming profitable in less time. However, that success can be increased by putting in place a few basic operating procedures. I had to learn this lesson for myself. If you are thinking that writing a business plan does the job, I disagree. The business plan does not guide you on how to organize your business operations. Thus, many small businesses fail.

The good news? You do not need to start with a complicated system of SOPs. I believe the lack of understanding SOPs and thinking about the time it will take to create them is one of the reasons why they do not get done. The negative impact can be devastating.

So, what is an SOP? Standard Operating Procedures are written instructions explaining how to do the most important and common tasks needed to run your business. They are there to ensure that things are done in the same way, by all team members performing certain tasks. This creates uniformity. It creates order and defines how things are done on a daily basis. The key for small or single-owner businesses to begin this process is to keep it simple. You can build on the SOPs as you grow. You can purchase software for managing the SOPs.

If you have ever worked with me or taken one of my training programs, my focus is to give you the quickest path to getting things done correctly. Once you create your SOPs and follow them, you will have more time for working on the business growth. Even as a single-owner business, SOPs will organize your daily tasks and make it easier for someone to learn what to do, if you are not available.

If you want more sales and more time to focus on growth, follow these simple steps:

  • As you start your day, keep track of how you do things. Is there a routine to your day? If so, make a note of those routines and how you perform them. If you have a team, ask them to do the same. The information you will gather will help to add structure to everyone’s tasks. You will be recruiting them to help with the SOPs and identify problems. Do this for a week. Longer if the daily routine is being disrupted by the unexpected.
  • Keep notes about things you notice as you go about your routine. Are there interruptions and why? At times, the interruptions are due to lack of training causing someone to have to stop and give directions. Do not worry about putting things in the best order. For now, the focus is on how you and your team manage your daily activities.
  • After you and your team have tracked your routines for the amount of time chosen, ask yourselves what you have learned. What is working? What is not? Where are the problems? Where is time being wasted and why?
  • The next step is to organize the routines that fall into the same process. Let us consider client attraction, sales and retention. Anything related to how you attract customers, their purchase, and follow up becomes part of the SOPs for the Sales Team. Any time a new person is trained in sales, they review the SOPs for the Sales Team.
  • Once you have the draft for the Sales SOPs, look for what is missing. In the example above, what is the process for building relationships with your customers and potential customers? Are you using Client Relationship Management software? That information gets added to the SOPs for sales.

This is a simple process for getting the content you need for your Standard Operating Procedures as you go about your workday. For more information on our training programs or to connect, jump over to and email me or schedule a call to learn more.

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