How To Create A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

A Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP is the core to creating systems that work for you. By now you should have some systems in place for your business.

How do you create a system that you will actually use that will save you both time and money?

If you haven’t heard of it yet, a Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP is the core to creating systems that work for you. By now you should have some systems in place for your business. But if you don’t, think about this scenario… you, the business owner, are in the hospital and are unable to work. Most entrepreneurs would be screwed! But don’t feel bad, this is a common issue among small business owners. Usually if you can’t work, no money comes in or all hell breaks loose.

The reason behind the SOP, is so that other people can know how to run your systems without you. Not only will this save you some headache, it will also save you time, and probably money.

So let’s review how to effectively make an SOP.

If you Google how to make an SOP it can become very overwhelming very quickly. You will find all these big company SOPs that no one wants to read. I only care about you creating something you are actually going to use. You don’t have time to spend working on an SOP you will never use.

The first step is to think of the last five big issues you have had in your business. These can be things like technical issues, password issues, or much bigger, like client issues, or work that was not done correctly. Think of the issues that took a lot of your time, your brain space, or those that cost you money.

You can download the guide on how to make an SOP and the SOP template here.

You are going to want to prioritize your biggest problems first. Those problems that can save you time and money. Implement the ones that matter most.

Next, you are going to want to organize them.

  • Which of those five problems were the worst?
  • Which one lost you a lot of time?
  • Which one lost you money?

If you are a visual person, like me, try mapping everything out on a whiteboard or large piece of paper. Think about the ideal way everything should happen.

Map this out in a flow chart and ask yourself some very specific questions…

  • What needs to happen first? What are the prequels to this task?
  • What are the specific passwords or software that you need to use in this specific procedure?
  • What videos or visuals need to be created to explain to someone how to do this?

You want to be sure that you have everything mapped out before you start getting down to the nitty gritty. You want to make sure it is as easy as possible for someone who doesn’t even know your business to come in and follow the procedure on the SOP without needing additional instructions.

SOPs are instruction manuals for all your business systems. You team will get better and better as you start to implement this more. The goal is to not have your team or your assistance coming to you every five minutes asking you what the next step is. Thankfully we have software that can assist with this. Jing is a great free software where you can record five minute videos that you can put directly into your SOPs to help explain procedures. Once you start creating more SOPs, you will need to make sure they are organized and your team can easily locate what they need. This can easily be done in Dropbox or Google Drive.

But at this point we are only concerned about creating the first one.

You can download the SOP template here.

The template will walk you through step by step. In the beginning it goes over the prerequisites; who owns the SOP, this does not need to name names, you can just say, “the owner does this… the assistant does this…” then we get into the procedures. The procedure section is where you lay out the process step by step with as many visuals as you can. Finally, there is a checklist included at the end for a quick overview.

So take this information today and do something with it, don’t just be an information hoarder!

Take at least an hour today-or put it on the calendar to do in the next couple days and create your first SOP. This will help you really move things forward and get you to start working ON your business rather than IN your business. You will never be able to reclaim your time unless you start doing this!

Action Items:

  1. Download the SOP Template and SOP Worksheet
  2. Write down the last five big issues you dealt with
  3. Organize the 5 issues in order of urgency
  4. Create a flow-chart of the ideal process
  5. Create your first SOP using the template

Thanks for listening in!


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Hi I’m Jaime. Each and every week I bring you the top business advice from the people who know best.

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3 responses

  • Hey, Jaime, great article!

    I also think that knowing your processes in and out helps you comprehensively write your individual SOPs that your employees and new trainees can easily and comfortably follow and execute. Having the right format also helps as well.

    When it comes to SOPs, we use an API called Process Street to help us write and execute them because they have a lot of amazing features that you can use to help your business become more efficient. They also have this article that contains several SOP templates that your readers might want to check out:

  • Along those lines – I spotted Scarlet’s post above and it got me thinking Jamie, where do you store your SOPs?

    Looks like Scarlet’ uses … we use and I know other just simply use dropbox and/or google drive.

    Would be interested to know what you use.

    • We are using Google Drive and Asana for all our SOPs

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