In This Episode

We’ve heard from a lot of business owners over the years who are looking for a checklist to run their businesses.  It’s often described as something like “do these 17 things in this order and you’re guaranteed to have success.”  So is getting all these systems and procedures and SOPs in place really the answer for your business?  Or should you focus on attracting and retaining the best people to be part of your Organization?

So if you’re one of those folks who has been searching for that checklist of things to do that will tell you exactly what to do in every situation for your business, take a deep breath and pause.  Start with answering one question first, “What’s the plan?”  Depending how you answer that one question will determine the need for systems and procedures in your business.  For instance, if your goal is to grow a worldwide business that is franchised, then yes those systems and procedures become pretty important.  On the other hand, if you’re focused on growing your business from $1 million in sales to $2 million in sales over the next 5 years then the systems and procedures aren’t necessarily where you want to start.

While we certainly believe there are principals to follow in running your business that will improve your chances for success, there is no “playbook” that has all the right steps and answers for what to do next.  Keep in mind that part of the joy of running and working in a small business is the ability to have that human component to things.  The ability to not have to be so structured all the time. To have some flexibility.  So don’t take the heart out of your small business by strangling it with too many systems.

Systems and procedures or SOPs can be helpful with your business but they aren’t the answer for everything that ails you as a business owner.  If you’ve followed our show for a while you know we are big fans of a 3-word job description for the owner: Plan, Direct, Control.  It all starts with the Plan.  “What’s the plan” is a question we ask our clients and we encourage all business owners to ask their teams.  Because if we don’t have a plan we are all a part of, it’s going to be tough to accomplish anything meaningful.

The systems and procedures become more helpful with the Direct and Control parts.  As part of the Direction you’ll want to figure out who is doing what and how are they doing it.  This is usually where the owner starts to “delegate” some tasks to other people and one of the best ways to hand something off is to provide a written description or system for how it’s been done in the past.  On the Control front you’ll want to have a standard set of reports and meetings which help provide a nice cadence and rhythm for your Organization.

But the people are still an important component to all of this.  You might have the best written SOPs in the world, but if you don’t have the right people in place to not only follow those systems, but to also embrace and improve them, chances are you’ll be disappointed and frustrated by how your systems are working.

People, Companies and Resources We Mentioned in the Show