As a solopreneur, because you are a one-person show, you can operate your business without much in the way of policy, process, and procedures. But, “going from one person to more than one” requires a lot of change.
Implement policy to get everyone on the same page with the rules. Document process to enable delegation. Procedures need to be written down, so others can follow the same methods based on your insights.
Policy, process, and procedures are topics we talk about every day with clients. We help set them up, implement them, and train other team members so your business can grow from a solid foundation. So let’s break down each one.
The policies are “the rules.” They’re not negotiable… things like:
- what to do when you need a day off
- what the holidays are
- whether or not you have to fill out a timesheet and by when
- when the paydays are scheduled
- what the 401K or health insurance information is
- what software the team should use
Note that policy can be changed. You can start without a 401K and add it later, for example.
As you grow out of solopreneurship, you can no longer decide your holidays based on your workload. You can’t go on vacation without letting someone know. Rules and structure need to be in place to avoid frustration.
What if your part-time employee didn’t know they needed to tell you about a vacation/time off – or how to notify you?
Or, what if they told you, but you forgot because there was nowhere to document it?
Write that stuff down and communicate it to your team. Be sure to document it as it comes up, too. There needs to be a central place to store company documents and a process to communicate them company-wide.
We keep our policy, process, and procedures in Teamwork.com. Changes are shared with the team when updates are made, and the versions are tracked.
Processes are the steps to accomplish a task. They are things like:
- how you sell to a new client
- how to make sure the client gets a bill
- details on which app to use for what purpose
- how to start a new project
- how to post to social media
To grow beyond running your business all by yourself, you’ll need to hire help and delegate tasks. Your team can truly only help when you relay what’s in your brain to a documented process. For example, when opening a new project, certain steps have to take every time. Each of those steps should be listed out as a process so anyone can pick it up and follow through.
One way to capture processes is to record and transcribe meetings. So, for example, when Susan began to delegate tasks, she’d walk through each step of the process showing the team what to do. Then, the recording was available for viewing, and the text from the transcription was there as the written process. (We highly recommend Rev for transcription – fast and good!)
It is important to have processes in writing so that you don’t have to re-record every time something changes, like software or a small tweak. Also, it is easier to search words than recordings when looking for how to perform a certain task.
Having the process in a central place, like project management software or a tool specifically aimed at storing processes, also means that the team can collaborate on the process. For example, if a technology change is found, the person can edit the process and notify the team about the change.
Of policy, process, and procedures, procedures are the most straightforward. Simply put, a procedure is a checklist. We keep procedures as task or project templates in Teamwork.com. A great procedure to start with is for onboarding employees. As you go through the first hire, build a list of everything needed — from interviews to posting headshots and bios to the website to get them access to the assorted software.
You can duplicate that list to make an off-boarding procedure as well. So you’ll know what to do when employees leave, which can sometimes be urgent to address!
Other procedures can be things like:
- onboarding a new client
- kickoff call checklists
- project templates
- offboarding clients
- posting blogs to social media
Simply put, think of a procedure as something that can be duplicated over and over and followed, so you don’t forget a step – like a checklist for an airplane before it leaves the gate. In fact, most project management software allows you to create templates to replicate procedures easily.
In summary, policy, process, and procedures are the backbone for growing your business. If your goal is to grow and sell your business, these operational guidelines will help your business be much more valuable to a buyer than just selling them a client list.
What are some of the policies, processes, and procedures you have for your business?
Whether you’re new or looking for advanced operational strategies, read more about operational success from our curated resources to tame the chaos and grow your business.