As a former member of the Royal Navy Submarine Service, systems and processes to cover almost every eventuality became like a religion in my early working years. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) and Emergency Operating Procedures (EOP’s) were close to hand for everything we did. In terms of the EOP’s, if a fire or other event occurred, we were all trained to know what we had to do but for each one there was a procedure to follow. For example, what if most of the senior officers were incapacitated, or the Chief Stoker who was the primary firefighting guru on board. We had to have a resource that would tell anyone who opened it, exactly what they needed to resolve the situation. In a full-blown emergency, that would have been difficult to do in good time, but it was there just in case, nonetheless.
Small businesses also benefit from having a set of procedures and processes to follow that are uniform for everyone who has to undertake the task. In the early days of your small business, it is very easy to get caught up in growing and developing the business itself and leave aspects such as systems and processes to later. We can be so caught up in doing the doing that these things don’t seem quite so important.
However, now is exactly the time when it is a good idea to get these systems and processes in place. Waiting until the organization is much larger and you have multiple staff can mean that the task becomes so daunting that it keeps getting put to one side in favour of more interesting work. Before you know it, you have multiple staff undertaking the same roles but carrying out the work in a myriad of different ways. If you have a set procedure, which can be tweaked over time when better ways are discovered, and have it written down and to hand for anyone in the organization to find, you can then be confident that the task will be done the same way each and every time as long as everyone follows the process.
In addition, that time you have multiple staff sick and everyone else has to pitch in means that they can simply pick up the process and get on with it. They may not be as efficient as the regular staff, but they will be able to ensure that your client’s needs are met with minimal disruption to their business.
If you are a new business owner starting out, set aside an hour each week to develop a new process that you feel would benefit your organization. Before you know it, you will have a full set of SOP’s ready for when you scale the business and aren’t able to be as hands on as you were (we will leave EOP’s to the Armed Forces and Emergency Services for now). If you have been in business for a while and don’t yet have any processes or procedures in place, stop avoiding it and just tackle them one at a time, completing the ones which are most important to the business first and work down the level of priority. Your future business will thank you for it.