Operation Manuals, Standard Operating Procedures, Modus Operandi; call them what you will, having a set of processes in your business is vital to its growth and success . And I’m not just talking about large multi-national companies either. The same applies to small businesses and sole-traders.
So what are they and why should we have them?
A business process is simply a step by step guide for handling routine tasks and recurring events in your business. How you make sales calls or deal with customer queries for example.
It is not about how you organise your files or where you put your accounts (although both of these play a role in the processes themselves). It is about how you deal with a prospect enquiry; what steps you take to onboard a new client; how you maintain quality customer service and, if you are in a business that requires you to be part of a professional body, how you remain compliant.
In fact if you are part of a professional body you probably already have processes in place even if you don’t recognise them as such. Lawyers can’t do things any old way in any old order. Neither can health professionals or personal trainers. There are a set of procedures that they need to follow in order to comply with their industry’s rules and regulations in order to maintain standards.
Business processes are like that but they relate to everyday tasks in your business and, in essence, they fulfill the same role.
So why should you go to the trouble of writing out (because you definitely should have them written down!) a standard way of doing things?
For a number of very good reasons!
- You become more efficient and get more done. Doing something the same way each time speeds up how long it takes because you don’t have to think about it.
- Your business becomes more streamlined and less chaotic.
- You’ll never have to think ‘What do I do now?’ again! Well, maybe not never, but having a set of processes means that you’ll more often that not know the next thing you should do if a client or a prospect calls.
- You can set and maintain your quality control standards much more easily. In fact, probably the greatest benefit of having processes in your business is that you maintain the standards you set for yourself. If you write down your standards (i.e. call back within 24 hours) as part of your process you are much more likely to maintain them.
- If you’re doing the same thing on a regular basis then some parts of your business can be automated Mailchimp and CRMs can send out automated response emails that remove a part of the sales process from you. Saving you valuable time.
- You can delegate parts of the process. As a Virtual Assistant one of the most frequent statements I hear is ‘I really need your help but I don’t know what to ask you to do’. If you have processes in place and you know what you do, it becomes much easier to divide the task down into parts and delegate some of them. This doesn’t just apply to VAs by the way. Accountants, social media experts, in fact anyone that you could delegate things to would benefit if you had a process in place.
And even if you’re not planning on delegating or automating parts of your business any time soon having processes in place will speed up how you do things; stop you over-thinking; enable you to see clearly what’s working and what’s not and eliminate errors and ‘forgetting things’.
So you see, having business processes is not just for big companies. By using them you can become more organised; more efficient; get more hours in the day; maintain standards and simply get things done without having to re-invent the wheel every time.