Running a business in your head is not a good thing. It’s too easy for stuff to get lost. And at the very least it wastes your time trying to retrieve that information when you most need it.
On top of that, what if something were to happen to you and you were unable to run your business? Your spouse, significant other or employees would have no clue what to do.
Yes, I can hear you now laughing and saying, “But I’m only a one person company.” Exactly.
That’s why you need an operations manual. It’s a document that details how stuff gets done in your company. Face it. You are not going to live forever.
Plus, what if something happens to you and you are incapacitated? We see news reports of that happening to people every single day. It can happen to anyone.
On top of that, what if you get really, really busy (kudos!) and need to hire someone. That is when you will have the least amount of time to do some training.
If you have your processes and procedures documented in an operations manual, you’ve already won half the battle with training a new employee (or outsourcing to a contractor).
So what do you include in an operations manual? Standard information about your business — organizational chart, who’s in charge of what, products you sell, processes for everything your company does to fulfill its customers needs. And don’t forget about internal processes too — things like payroll, product mailing, reports.
Even the simplest “no brainer” process needs to be documented in your operations manual. Take a look at Small Business Assumption Costly and Employees Aren’t Mind Readers for some examples. So where do you start? At the beginning of course!
Seriously though, you can just brainstorm a list of all the things you do in your company. Then, one by one, document them in your operations manual. To document a process, first name the process (let’s say the process name is Publish My Newsletter), then write down every single thing you do from start to finish to accomplish that process. Use the “then what” approach. List a step and say “then what” until the process document is complete. That’s it! Easy huh?
If you’re not sure where to start, my colleague Susan Carter has a great book on the market called How To Make Your Business Run Without You that would be a handy tool. It will take you step-by-step through creating your small business operations manual. Isn’t it time you started?
Do you have an operations manual for your small business? Any pointers you’d like to share? Leave me a comment.