Friendly reminder: When you’re running your own business, time is money— In other words, the better you stay organized and manage your time, the more profitable your business becomes. And the more profitable your business becomes, the better equipped you are to scale it to your heart’s content.
Unfortunately for most, time management is one of THE most challenging skills to master, which is why so many businesses hit a revenue ceiling at one point in their journey. We’re talking about businesses that are putting in the work, seeing little progress despite their best efforts, and have no idea why they aren’t building the momentum they need to grow.
If that sounds anything like you and you’re sick of throwing spaghetti at the wall with the hope that something will eventually stick, you’re in the right place.
Because it’s not always a matter of what you’re doing.
Sometimes it’s about how you’re getting things done instead.
(This is one of those times!)
Which is exactly where SOPs (or standard operating procedures) come into play. By leaning on SOPs, you can make, necessary, and repetitive tasks streamlined and systematic. You can free yourself from the kind of busy work that bogs you down instead of opens you up by delegating those tasks to someone else instead. You can then churn out high-quality work more quickly and with complete confidence that nothing is slipping through the cracks.
If you’re not quite sure how to implement SOPs, let alone write them, we’ve got you covered. It’s kind of our thing.
Read on for all the juicy details of what putting SOPs into practice can do for you and your growing design business.
You see, SOPs are the living documents that serve as the backbone of your daily operations.
They provide the structure your business needs to meet its goals, keep your interior design business organized, and keep your team on the same page at all times.
They offer clarity and kick ambiguity to the curb so everyone knows exactly what, when, and how to complete tasks, all while minimizing errors and staying within any regulatory requirements in play.
The cherry on top is that these docs take the guesswork out of the equation entirely.
When you carve out time to write and implement SOPs that are goal-oriented and support your company’s signature process, you can rest assured that every detail can be refined and optimized over time.
That means no more half-baked procedures or one-off wins. Instead, whatever changes you make WILL save you time and bring you one step closer to the smooth-as-butter, scalable business of your dreams.
And you can do that in 10 simple steps. Easy as pie.
If you’re starting from square one, you have to figure out which process needs an SOP, first, then define your goals for said process second.
The great thing about SOPs is that they can be written for nearly any task or workflow related to your business. It’s just a matter of your preferences and priorities at any given time, and helping your write even just one, will help you feel more organized.
If you asked us what has been the most useful set of SOPs I’ve created for my biz, I would say it’s social media management and client onboarding. (Get the low down on an important part of our client onboarding process if you’re ready to craft a client experience that wows.)
Next, clearly state the purpose and goal of the SOP.
What do you hope to achieve?
What do you hope to avoid?
Don’t skip ahead, friend. It’s best to know this sort of thing before the jump.
Next up is breaking down your selected process or workflow into sequential steps for your team members to follow.
If it helps, you can take notes as you complete tasks to get a better understanding of what steps need to be included. You should also consider using bullet points or numbering each step to make your instructions easy to read and maybe even easier to follow.
The more complicated the procedure, the more detail you should include to avoid confusion.
After you map out each step involved in wrapping up a task or completing a workflow, it’s time to describe each step in detail. Make sure to include specific actions, safety precautions, required resources, and recommended tools or software. Avoid vague language to keep you and your reader on the same page at every turn!
Before moving on, give your instructions a once over to make sure your text is clear, concise, and easy to understand. You can even have a team member read them over to fill in any gaps you may have missed writing the doc the first time around.
One way to make your SOPs easier to read through is to incorporate images, diagrams, and flowcharts when you can. Visuals like these do wonders when it comes to breaking up large blocks of text and clarifying more complex steps.
The visual learners on your team will thank you and that extra bit of spice can make the reading experience more enjoyable. Really, who doesn’t appreciate a pop of color here and there?
Because you know better than anyone how to run your business, you should anticipate the sort of questions that could come up during each process and document them in your SOPs.
You should provide troubleshooting tips or FAQs for the hiccups you know about and the contact info for the person to get in touch with should new issues arise. You want to account for the worst-case scenario and, as much as possible, you want it to make it easy for your reader to follow your SOP to a T.
Once your SOP has every piece of relevant info you can think of, it’s time to polish that baby up!
Go through your text with a fine-toothed comb and correct any grammatical and spelling errors you find. Then, toy with the structure of your doc if needed. Make sure all steps are in chronological or sequential order. If composing structured documents just isn’t your strong suit, you can opt to use a template instead.
Regardless, make sure to use headings and subheadings, and stay consistent in your formatting for readability and professionalism’s sake. Chances are, if it seems that the author of a document took it seriously, the reader will too.
Another important piece of the SOP puzzle is any info that clearly states who is responsible for executing each step of the process. This prevents your reader from tackling tasks they should have no part in AND ensures the right members of your team are held accountable.
Language should never be vague or ambiguous when you’re outlining any procedure. That applies to directions that are meant for specific individuals, titles, or roles in your company as well.
Make your SOP deserving of a standing O by including everything else your reader would need to understand and complete the process at hand.
You can refer to other internal documents in the text itself or hyperlink to tutorials or online resources if your SOP is digital. This is a perfect place to pop in your welcome guide template, swipe files for proposals, client email templates, or other tools for efficiency. Give your reader a fuller picture of what you’re attempting to communicate and make it easier for them (and you) to have everything you need at a glance. Trust us, going the extra mile will save you a headache or two later down the road.
At W&J, we always check our work and you’ll want to do the same before any SOP is set in stone.
So avoid jumping the gun and make sure your doc isn’t littered with errors by proofreading it one last time. Get a second pair of eyes on your work to catch any inconsistencies and make dang sure it describes the process as accurately as possible.
Then, you can send the SOP off to get the stamp of approval from any partners, managers, or whoever else is involved in your business systems decisions.
Once finalized, all you’ve got left to do is distribute your shiny new game-changer and train your team accordingly. Ta-da!
Because SOPs are living documents, they should be reviewed and revised on the regular. Schedule time to go through your SOPs on a yearly or quarterly basis to keep them up-to-date and relevant. Make note of any operational, technological, or regular changes that would affect how you accomplish any given task.
Otherwise, there would be no point in having a full-fledged SOP in the first place. These docs are only effective if the info they contain is current so some maintenance is required. But in our opinion, the trade-off is more than worth it.
Putting in the time to create SOPs for your design biz just might be what you need to get to the next level. If creating systems or processes for your business just isn’t your jam, you can tap us in to handle those projects on your behalf.
Helping you build the business you daydream about is what gets you out of bed each morning. Fill out this form to get the ball rolling and we’ll get in touch with you, stat!