Article by: MaryEllen | Monday, August 28, 2017

By MaryEllen Tribby

So many entrepreneurs are confused as to why their business doesn’t grow. Especially since they spend relentless hours, coming up with great product ideas and marketing campaigns. They may have even hired great employees. Yet their business is not growing. In many cases it is shrinking in revenues and very sadly in profits as well.

Why?

The answer is simple. They do not have any structure what so ever. As a matter of fact even the word “structure” makes them squirm.

The reason they squirm is because their ego runs their business. They don’t want to be labeled as structured. They have the misguided notion that “structure” is the converse of creative. They would almost rather hemorrhage money, as long as they maintain their “creative” status.

This is not only depressing, it is extremely counter productive to long-term business success.

Birds Do It, Bees Do It, Successful Companies Do It!

Think about the most successful companies in the world. Think of successful companies in every niche. Think of successful companies that are both digital and brick ‘n mortar. Some of these companies would include:

* McDonalds

* Agora, Inc

* Apple

* Wells Fargo

* Wal-Mart

What all these companies have in common is that they create, implement and constantly improve upon their SOP’s – their Standard Operating Procedures.

What is an SOP?

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of written instructions that document a routine or repetitive activity followed by an organization. The development and use of SOPs are an integral part of a successful quality system as it provides team members (and future team members) with the information to perform a job properly, and facilitates consistency in the quality and integrity of a product or end-result.

Why an SOP?

SOPs detail the regularly recurring work processes that are to be conducted or followed within an organization. They document the way activities are to be performed to facilitate consistent quality as well to expedite the task at hand.

They may describe, for example, fundamental actions and technical actions such as analytical processes, and processes for maintaining, calibrating, and using equipment and/or software programs. SOPs are intended to be specific to the organization whose activities are described and assist that organization to maintain their quality control and quality assurance processes and ensure compliance with organizational regulations.

If not written correctly, SOPs are of virtually no value. In addition, the best written SOPs will fall short if they are not followed. Therefore, the use of SOPs needs to be reviewed and re-enforced by management, preferably the direct supervisor.

Current copies of the SOPs also need to be readily accessible for reference in the work areas of those individuals actually performing the activity and training others, either in hardcopy or electronic format, otherwise SOPs serve little purpose.

The benefits of the SOP!

The development and use of SOPs minimizes variation and promotes quality through consistent implementation of a process or procedure within the organization, even if there are temporary or permanent personnel changes. SOPs can indicate compliance with organizational requirements and can be used as a part of a personnel-training program, since they should provide detailed work instructions. It minimizes opportunities for miscommunication and can address safety concerns.

2016-06-29 pixabay-checklist-1402461_640In addition, SOPs are frequently used as checklists by inspectors when auditing procedures. Ultimately, the benefits of a valid SOP are reduced work effort, along with improved comparability, credibility, and legal defensibility.

How to write an SOP

SOPs should be written in a concise, step-by-step, easy-to-read format. The information presented should be unambiguous and not overly complicated. The active voice should be used. The term “you” should not be used, but implied. The document should not be wordy, redundant, or overly lengthy. Keep it simple and short. Information should be conveyed clearly and explicitly to remove any doubt as to what is required. Also, use a flow chart to illustrate the process being described.

Example of SOP

During the first few years of Working Moms Only (WMO), we developed an SOP for all of our repeatable tasks. These include tasks such as setting up our newsletter and paying affiliates.

Here is one of the most vital SOPs for WMO, how to set up our twice weekly correspondence – our inbox magazine.


Working Moms Only-Newsletter SOP

System Sent Through:

Infusionsoft: (insert link here for your system)

Login: XXX

Password: XXX

Deliverables Needed:

Thursday’s issue requires copy from guest experts.

Monday’s issue requires copy from MaryEllen.

Email Set Up:

  • Spell check and proof Word version of newsletter and track changes
  • Copy and paste final proofed text into notepad and make plain text (removing all the styling from the document)
  • Log into Infusionsoft
  • Go to the drop down menu under the small grey arrows at the top left of the screen by the Infusionsoft logo, choose marketing, then click on Marketing and in that dropdown menu choose templates. On the templates page find the last newsletter template.
  • Open and clone the template then immediately rename it – WMO Newsletter (date) *see other newsletters for naming style
  • Edit using classic editor
  • Change issue number and date
  • Save the document frequently while setting it up
  • Copy and paste subject line into subject field
  • Copy and paste text for each section into each field
  • Make all text Verdana font and size 10
  • Make the quote text bold and italicized, and with breaks creating a V-like form
  • Make essay title bold, Verdana style and size 14 font
  • Make “by” line bold, Verdana style, and size 12 font
  • Go through body text and style text as shown in newsletter using the features within Infusionsoft (such as bolding words, creating bullets or italicizing words)
  • Make all links trackable links (usually only in the Check It Out section and sometimes in the bottom of the main essay). Create tracking links by putting yoru cursor where you would like the link to be placed. Then, click on “get personal” found above the editing window on the right. Choose “create link.” Click on “some other web page.” Add a title (something that distinguishes what the link is, so that you can find it later if you choose to use it again.) Then, add the URL in the URL field. If you would like the link to show up as something different than the URL in the newsletter (such as “Click Here”), click on “edit” and type in the text you would like to show up in place of the link. When this is complete, click on “Save and Insert.” Your link will be placed where your cursor is within the newsletter. If you need to use the link more than once, you can simply copy and paste the code in the newsletter and use in all the places the link should be.
  • If you need to add an image, click on the framed icon in the menu and upload image there
  • When email is finished, send yourself a test mail.
  • View the email in your email account
  • If email looks ready to send, send MaryEllen a test to view
  • Once the newsletter is complete and approved – Schedule it to go out.

Scheduling the Email:

  • Click on “people”, “send broadcast”, “email”
  • Choose ‘new search’. Do a search without choosing any fields. This will bring up everyone in the database and the email will go out to all of them.
  • Click next, then above email template choose “pick an existing email” and search for the newsletter you want to send out
  • Review email and then click “next”
  • Check all boxes and choose scheduled time for newsletter to go out
  • Click “next”

Posting Issue to the Website:

  • After newsletter is complete, copy all text from the final test email you sent to yourself, paste in notepad and save
  • Login to XXX click on ‘posts’, ‘add new’
  • Copy text from personal note (under the Dear… to right after the line ‘also in this issue…’) insert in ‘excerpt’ field below
  • Copy all of text in essay portion of the newsletter and place in the post body field.
  • Copy the title and paste in title field
  • Copy ‘by’ line and paste and the top of the body field and bold
  • Go through body text and style text as shown in newsletter (make sure paragraph is selected for style of text to ensure proper spacing)
  • Log into Photos.com and select a picture that is appropriate for the essay. Download picture and save for use
  • Click on ‘featured image’ in WordPress and upload picture. Choose left alignment so that text wraps around picture.
  • Change alt text and title to appropriate tag
  • Click on insert
  • Click on ‘save draft’ and then preview to preview the post
  • If post is ready to go, click on ‘schedule’ to edit time to post Choose 5am of the day you want the issue to post
  • Important – you must click schedule again below for the post to schedule.

Because we had the proper SOPs in place, starting a new inbox magazine was fast, easy and profitable from the start.

Today, you should make a list of ALL repeatable tasks. After that, commit to writing one SOP a day until your business is McDonaldized!