Written by: Melissa Gamarra, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Did you know that  20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% of small businesses fail in their second year, 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business, and 70% of small business owners fail in their 10th year in business? This is a statistic that will send chills down the spine of any business owner because for most of us, our businesses are like our children! The thought of losing your business for any reason is a terrible one, but what if the reason you lose your business is because you fail to meet demand?
Businesses don't fail in year five or ten because they don't have clients. They fail because their operations aren't functioning the way they should. Having a solid foundation in your business is absolutely crucial if you want to stand the test of time. So how do you prepare your business for long term growth and ensure that you don't become part of the statistic above? The answer is simple, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This may seem like an overly simplistic answer, but SOPs are one of the most commonly forgotten steps when building an online company.
So What are SOPs?
SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures are the step by step instructions for each individual task inside your business. These documents tell your staff exactly how to complete specific tasks, maintain quality and what is expected of them. These SOPs also help you onboard and train new hires with ease because everything is clearly laid out for them.
Imagine you purchase a piece of furniture from Amazon. It gets to your door, you open it up, take all the pieces out only to discover that there are no instructions for how to put this together. All you have to go off of is the picture and your intuition. Most likely what will happen is you will have a poorly constructed piece of furniture that leans to one side and is missing some screws. This is exactly what happens in your business when staff members don’t have clearly outlined instructions to follow.
Why are SOPs Vital to Your Success?
You might think that you already have a well-trained team working for you, and it’s completely possible. The issue is,  the average person forgets nearly 50% of what they have been told. More than likely, you have experienced this in your life and what happens when you forget? Oftentimes you will “figure it out” or ask the person in charge. This leads to steps being missed, incorrect instructions being given and a lack of continuity when it comes to the work your company puts out.
Quality is absolutely key when it comes to owning a business. If you can’t guarantee the quality of your work because your team doesn’t have the proper instructions, your business is likely to implode. Clients and customers want to know that they can rely on you, so whether your social media is suffering from inconsistency or your client’s work is having issues, if the problem isn’t fixed, your customer base will leave.
Another reason why SOPs are so important is for training purposes. Hiring, onboarding and training is a huge drain on your time. With SOPs you simply need to show the new hire your systems, give them your passwords and the SOPs. These instructions should be so detailed that it leaves no room for guesswork. This is why they are so effective at helping you train people the right way and make sure quality is never compromised.
So Where Do I Start?
Creating instructions for your entire company probably seems like a giant task you could never finish. But this process is actually easier than you think! Start by downloading this free SOP template. This template has instructions for how to fill it out, and your first SOP should be the SOP for how you will create future SOPs.
Make a copy of the template and start writing out the instructions for how to create an SOP. This is what your team will follow when they document their own tasks and you want everything to look the same. After you have done this, start by creating SOPs for the people you are looking to hire. This will get you one step closer to expanding your team and will help the onboarding process go smoothly. After you have completed those, have your existing team create SOPs for their tasks, and you create SOPs for everything you do. These don’t need to be done in a day, but they need to get done!
Other Problems in Your Foundation
There are a lot of moving pieces inside of a business that keeps it functioning day in and day out. While having SOPs is absolutely essential, it’s not the only thing you might be experiencing issues with. Things like a lack of organization, improper systems, and not delegating tasks accordingly can all be really serious issues. If you are looking to really prepare yourself for the next step in your business, check out my book, Transform Your Online Business into a Flourishing Enterprise. This book goes over exactly how to prepare your business for growth and stability over time so that YOU don’t become another statistic.
Melissa Gamarra, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Melissa Gamarra is a Certified Online Business Manager and Author living in Salt Lake City. She helps online business owners create organization and business strategies so they can scale their companies effortlessly
 “10 Stats About Learning Retention You'll Want to Forget.” Instructure. Accessed October 9, 2020.