What are SOPs and why do you need them?

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are essential for a business of any size or niche. If you want people to follow rules, you need to give them clear guidelines as to what those rules are and what they need to do, to follow them.

In effect, that is what your SOPs are for. They give your staff step-by-step processes, guidelines and checklists for each and every task or process they perform. They show staff how to perform the tasks and processes within your business to achieve both the standard and quality you expect.

Here’s why SOPs are so important for your business, no matter the size or niche you’re in!

SOPs create consistency within your business

Consistency is important for any business. Whether you’re talking about customer service or production, you cannot afford to have fluctuations in standards and quality, simply because of who’s working or how experienced they are. Well written SOPs also include why staff should perform a task in a certain way. This helps motivate them to follow the clearly written process, rather than trying to find shortcuts and muddle their way through complex tasks. This is particularly important, if you have to demonstrate compliance and achieve certain standards for legal reasons.

SOPs are critical for both complex and simple operations

SOP’s help to breakdown the steps within each process or task, no matter how complex or simple that task may be. That’s crucial for your business, as it helps make complex tasks easier to follow and implement, whilst also ensuring complacency doesn’t kick in for the simpler tasks. Again, it’s about ensuring standards are maintained and guidance is followed to ensure consistency, every time a task or process is followed.

 Your SOPs help you to achieve an efficient and quality service

Standard Operating Procedures reduce the likelihood of internal miscommunications and errors within the working practices of your business. Having a clear set of instructions in place, ensures there’s no need for staff to rely on their memory or the verbal instructions passed down through their colleagues. This vastly reduces the likelihood or errors being made, as well as others picking up the bad habits of another team member.

Training can be completed faster and easier, as both the trainer and the trainee have clear guidance to follow. And, if someone needs to fill in for another team member, it’s much easier for them to do so, if there is a complete breakdown of the steps needed for each task.

 If tasks are clearly outlined and followed, you’re also reducing the likelihood of accidents or injury – and minimizing liability if an accident does occur. When it’s time for employee reviews, management have something to gauge performance against and staff work better, knowing they have a clear set of guidelines to follow.

SOPS may take some time to clarify and write, but they’re essential to your business, no matter how big or small it may be. By giving everyone clear guidance, you’re ensuring everyone knows what’s expected of them and how you want things done in your business. This leads to everyone being clear in their role and working together in the most efficient way possible, to provide a consistent, efficient and quality service to your customers – and helping make your business (and its profits) grow.

If you need help clarifying and setting up your Standard Operating Procedures, why not get in touch? Working in partnership with you, I can liaise with your internal team and help you establish your SOPs, track and manage your objectives and ensure your systems are set up. So why not get in touch? Let’s have a chat and see if we’re a good fit and can get your SOPs done!

Operations management: why it matters to your small business

Operations management was once seen as something that only applied to manufacturing businesses. However, effective operations management is at the heart of all successful businesses, no matter how big or small they may be.

If you want to provide a better quality and standard of service/product to your customer, whilst minimising your costs, time and effort – you need to be able to manage and understand the resources and processes you use. Otherwise known as the inner workings of your business, this includes your employees, the technology and equipment you use within your business activities, as well as the flow of information in both client-facing and business-related activities.

Why the need for operations management

When you first start out in business, there’s a certain amount of trial and error needed, to get started. But as your business grows, you need to ensure you’re staying as efficient and effective as possible. This is why you need to manage the resources at your disposal. You need to understand and refine the operations within your business, to effectively build and grow it further.

This includes knowing that you’re using the right software and/or tools for you, optimising and clarifying the processes and  how you use them, documenting those processes in your SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) so you can evaluate and analyse as you go, as well as ensuring that all staff are working effectively and efficiently to the standards you expect.

Operations management enables you to develop a clear strategy to follow and have a clear documented process to replicate. You cannot scale your business, if you have no idea of what was needed and implemented, to get you to where you currently are. A successful business has a solid operation at its core – one that is regularly reviewed and updated.

The importance of planning effectively

To be effective and efficient, the different parts of your business should work well together. You want to know what steps are needed to reach your business goals and everything that’s needed to get you there.

This means planning out the projects and procedures involved, factoring in maintenance for equipment, ensuring there’s a plan for checking and updating your procedures and processes regularly, as well as ensuring employees are following those procedures and processes in their working patterns.

By planning everything in advance, you can ensure you have a clear process in place, as well as transparency in your practices. Planning gives you a chance to get clear on your objectives and expectations, as well as cut down on any confusion and miscommunications – two big causes for delayed completion dates and errors in service and/or production. This planning stage also helps you to address potential pain points within your business and minimise the likelihood of costly errors, further down the line.

Project evaluation and analysis – a crucial part of your operations management

Once you’re implementing your plan and managing your operations, it’s essential that you evaluate and analyse your results, to clarify what is and isn’t working for you. You’re looking to ensure your desired quality and standards are being adhered to, but also checking for consistency and tweaks you can make to the processes. You cannot make improvements if you’re not evaluating your results – so don’t skip this crucial part of managing your operations!

If you want to scale your business, you need to know what was needed and implemented, to get you to where you currently are. This is why operations management matters to your small business. It enables you to develop your SOPs so you have a clear strategy to follow and a clear documented process to replicate, so you can confidently, effectively and efficiently grow your business and continue providing the highest level of support to your clients.

If you’d like help setting up your Standard Operating Procedures or want to hire someone to oversee your operations management, why not get in touch? Working in partnership with you, I can liaise with your internal team and help you establish your SOPs, track and manage your objectives and ensure your systems are set up. So why not get in touch? Let’s have a chat and see how we can get you to that next level.

What makes a successful business operations strategy?

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A business operations strategy ensures every area of your business is working in sync with the others. It enables you to keep up with changing markets and practices, as well as staying competitive and successful in your industry.

If you want to improve your products and services, whilst ensuring you’re working to the best working processes and procedures for your business and staying at the forefront of the changing needs of your business as well as those of your customers, you need an operations strategy in place.

Here’s what you need in place, to make a successful business operations strategy for your business.

You want your business operations to match your business strategy

You need to be headed in the right direction and be clear on what you’re doing to get there and the individual steps needed, as well as the potential pitfalls and problems you may face along the way – complete with solutions.

Have a strong mission statement that defines who you are and what you do, as part of your operations strategy. This helps keep everyone focused and aligned with the business’s long and short term plans. Having a clear mission also guarantees that all your staff know what’s important and gives them something to measure consistent action against – it gives them the ‘What’ part of your business strategy.

You need to produce something you can use to put you in the marketplace

This is what gives you the ‘How’ part of your business strategy. It’s what you’re selling and how that positions you in the market. You also need to look at what you’re doing to help you compete in that marketplace, how that reflects in your customers’ experiences and what innovations you’re going to put forward to improve your position.

You also need to look at how well you weigh up against the competition and what you’re going to do to change and improve on that. It’s about clarifying how you can be better and what makes you different – and how you’re going to expand on this position.

You must learn from your processes and experiences

In order to grow and evolve, you need to learn from your processes and your experiences and evolve them, as needed. Getting wherever you’re going is a long journey and it’s crucial that you measure your results along the way, so you can tweak things as you go.

Get feedback from the different departments and also look at learning from those at the sharp end of your business. Work out how you can streamline and refine the processes you’re currently using and look for ways to cut back on both time and steps, to increase productivity and efficiency. Look at what you can do to cut back on expenses, without damaging either your product/service and customer satisfaction.

Carry out SWOT analysis to strengthen your procedures and processes and to minimise risks and mistakes. Use your experiences and feedback to learn, grow and evolve as you go.

If you want a successful business operations strategy in place, you need one that ensures every area of your business is working in sync with the others. It enables you to keep up with changing markets and practices, as well as staying competitive and successful in your industry. It may take some time to draw up and implement, but it’s worth it’s weight in gold – as it will help you get to where you want to go faster and more efficiently.

Want some help clarifying and setting up your operations strategy? Why not get in touch! We’ll not only help you with your strategy, we’ll also work in partnership with you, liaise with your internal team and establish your SOPs, track and manage your objectives and ensure your systems are set up! Sound good? Why not get in touch? Let’s have a chat and explore how we can work together to make your business even more successful than it already is!

How to identify when you need to work with an Online Business Manager

It can be difficult to know when you’re ready to work with an Online Business Manager and, equally difficult to admit you even need additional help. Hiring too early means you’re investing funds into something you may not need, whilst delaying can mean potentially losing out on potential sales and financial growth.

So how can you tell if you’re ready to work with an Online Business Manager? There isn’t a straightforward answer. However, here are several signs that may be showing up in your business to indicate that now is the time to hire an OBM.

Systems and procedures are letting you down

Setting up workable and streamlined systems and procedures isn’t for everyone, but OBMs love them! I often find business owners have either set up ineffective solutions or haven’t revised and amended their systems and procedures since the birth of their business – and this leads to a downturn in productivity, efficiency and communication.

Focusing on your strengths is your new superpower

As a business grows the owner can fall out of love with it – simply because they’re being pulled in too many directions. If you’re ready to free up your time and energy to focus on just the bits you’re good at, it’s time for an Online Business Manager.

You’re getting in the way of your business growth

Another sign you’re ready to work with an OBM is when you’ve realised that you’re the reason your business has stopped growing. It could be your mindset or your lack of motivation – an OBM can pick up the slack and hold you accountable to your goals.

Managing everything is leaving you exhausted

You’ve got where you are because you’ve often done everything yourself. But there comes a time when you need to realise – if you want to grow further, you can’t do it alone.

You’re struggling to see solutions to the problems you’re facing

Sometimes you need a fresh set of eyes and a little out of the box thinking, to find solutions. If you’re feeling as though your business is stuck or has plateaued, working with an OBM can be just the solution you need.

You’re ready to see your business as something bigger than you

When your business grows, it can often take on a life of its own – it becomes bigger than you imagined it would be. That’s when you know, it’s no longer just about you, it’s about the business and what it needs.

It’s time to take over the world

Not literally, obviously – but you know what you’re doing is needed, wanted and want help expanding to that next level. You’re ready for an Online Business Manager to help you with those larger plans (or world domination, if you prefer!)

It’s never an easy decision, knowing if you’re ready to hire an OBM. But take heart from the fact that clients who hire me, are frequently at a stage where they’ve already grown as much as they can on their own. They’re at a stage where they are ready to take it to the next level and are excited by that prospect!

If you’re ready to work with an Online Business Manager, why not contact me. We can have a chat and identify what help your business needs, whilst also seeing if we’re a good fit for each other – so head here to book in a call.

What services can an OBM offer to help your business?

Hiring an OBM is a sensible and strategic choice when you’re ready for your business to grow. Unlike other online virtual assistants, an OBM has a deeper connection with you and your business. They’re usually hired to manage specific aspects of your business, as well as troubleshooting and streamlining others. If you want to refresh your mind as to what an OBM is, check out this.

However, if you’re used to outsourcing to a VA, it can be confusing knowing what exactly, an OBM will do to help your business.

Available OBM services

To make it easier for you, here’s a breakdown of the different types of services an OBM can offer. Services include:

Team Management

Your OBM is a capable team leader – they’re there to ensure everyone else gets their job done. This includes hiring your team members and subcontractors, as needed. The biggest thing you need to do is let go, so your OBM can effectively manage your team – freeing you up to focus on other things.

Standard Operating Procedures

You’re hiring an OBM to make sure your business operating procedures are both beneficial to your company, and being adhered to. If there’s an SOP that isn’t working, your OBM will address it and refine it so it is working for you.

Operations Management

By taking a detailed look at your business an OBM can identify what is going on at all levels of your business. By seeing the whole picture, they can help address any shortcoming ins your operations management and provide implementable solutions, so you can stay on track as a business.

System set up and management

An OBM has the guts to tell you what is and isn’t working with your systems and management. If something needs implementing or setting up, they can do so – and if it needs tweaking and changing, they’re able to.

Business strategy

OBMs are proactive, especially when it comes to your business strategy. They know what you want to achieve and they figure out how to make that happen for you. Your OBM will create and implement a strategy plan, delegating to the right people, at the right time.

Project Management

The role of Project Manager is something an OBM relishes. It enables them to run with an entire project, managing it on your behalf and delegating out tasks to other team members to ensure the project reaching a satisfying and complete conclusion.

Encouraging owners accountability

A big part of an OBMs job is to hold you accountable to your business goals. By working so closely with you, as well as knowing your business at a deeper level, an OBM can hold you accountable to your business vision.

If you want the relationship to work though, you need to see them more as a troubleshooter – and open enough to listen to their advice for the good of your business. After all, that’s what you’re employing them for!

If you’re ready to explore how an OBM can help your business reach the next level, why not get in touch. We can have a chat and see if I’m a good fit for your needs, before exploring the type of help will benefit your business most.

How is an OBM different from a VA -and why you need to know

Whether you’re just starting out in business or have been trading for a while, the idea of hiring in some virtual help has probably crossed your mind. However, with the choice between OBM (Online Business Manager) or VA (Virtual Assistant) available to you, getting the right type of help is essential, if you want to grow and expand. That’s why it’s important that you know the crucial differences between these two distinctly different virtual online assistant options.

What is a VA?

EAs (Executive Assistants), PAs (Personal Assistants) and VAs (Virtual Assistants) all focus mainly on tasks and the clerical side of your business, such as diary and email management, customer service and administrative tasks that generally help clear your back-office workload and/or help free up the workload of the main administrative person within the office.

EAs, PAs and VAs also all tend to work with different management levels within the office. For example, an EA most often works with one specific CEO or MD within a company, whereas a VA and EA most often works with the administrative assistant or oversees the admin needs of several managers.

What is an OBM?

An Online Business Manager (OBM) on the other hand, is not the same as the above online assistants. An OBM is more business-focused. Often highly skilled in business, they’re great at managing aspects of your business – such as business and financial trends, strategies, procedures and funnels etc.

OBMs tend to think of the big picture needs of your company. They’re not afraid to think outside of the box and make suggestions, based on your overall business goals. They’re often managing situations and strategies for you, delegating them out as needed and overseeing everything, to ensure you reach the goals you want to reach. Therefore, an OBM tends to work more alongside the business owner as a partner or manager, rather than for them.

How knowing the difference benefits you

The key difference is in the overall name – one assists, whilst the other manages. This is an important distinction to make, as it helps you know what type of online virtual help you need.

If you’re just starting out or are happy with where your business is at, and are looking to manage the tasks on your plate, a Virtual Assistant is what you need. You simply decide what tasks you need help with, hand them out and the VA will complete those tasks for you.

However, if you’re looking to delegate more of the fundamental day-to-day running of the business, as well as the strategies and procedures within it, you need an OBM. Often, you’re at this stage in business as you’ve grown as much as you can on your own and you’re looking for someone else to help manage and grow your business with you.

Outsourcing to suit the individual needs of your company is what is going to enable your business to grow, faster and more effectively. By knowing the differences between an Online Business Manager and a Virtual Assistant, you’ll be able to confirm whether you’re at the stage of managing everything yourself or delegating out some of those managerial decisions.

If you’re ready to explore how an OBM can help your business reach the next level, why not get in touch. We can have a chat and see if I’m a good fit for your needs, before exploring the type of help will benefit your business most.

Guide to Hiring a VA

It’s a daunting prospect, handing over an aspect of your business which you’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into. A VA’s job is to make your life easier, allow you to spend less time on admin related tasks leaving you more time to make money.

The best thing about a VA is that unlike an employee, you are ONLY paying for the time you use. Not a second more!

But it’s really important that you find the right VA to support you and your business, there’s still lots you need to consider such as skill sets, personality type and most of all……you need to trust them!

Here’s what you need to know about working with a VA:

Know what you want to delegate beforehand. I recommend to spend a day or two tracking what’s taking up your time and determine which of those tasks you could reasonably delegate. This will also give you an indication as to how much time you spend doing these tasks. If you consider how much you could be earning during your “admin time” it will give you a clear indication as to whether a VA is financially viable.

There are many VA’s out there so take your time in finding the right VA for you. Be prepared to give them a small task to begin so you can see how they work before committing to further works. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t work out, just accept that this particular VA wasn’t the right fit for you.

Be prepared to sign a contract. Most VA’s will detail your expectations and cost it accordingly and will want a signed contract to protect both parties. Expect to put in time upfront, it will take a while for your VA to understand exactly what you need and the way in which you like to work. It’s highly recommended that you put time aside each week to speak to your VA and keep open the lines of communication. Document your conversations and be prepared to train them where necessary.

Get to know your VA and respect that they are a business owner in their own right. Remember, your VA is working to support their lives and family. Understand that you aren’t their only client and that they can’t drop everything when you need it. Some VA’s are happy to be on call for emergencies or for jobs with a quick turnaround but expect to pay a premium for these kind of services.

Please pay your VA promptly. It will help ensure that your working relationship stays strong and continues to be beneficial to both parties. If you do have an issue with payment, don’t ignore the subject, just pick the phone up and let us know. We’re human and we understand that sometimes things are beyond your control.

Leap the gap, I dare you!

Earlier this week, I was scrolling through my Feedly account and came across an article titled “This 10- Minute Gratitude Routine Will Change Your Life”. I’ve attached the link at the bottom of the blog for those who want to read it.

The article explores how being grateful for the things you have can help you transform your mindset and therefore encourage success. It discusses “The Gap and the Gain” concept where you struggle to see what you’ve gained because the gap is too big.

It’s the reason people don’t like to set themselves goals. The act of sitting down, setting a goal and formulating a plan of action to reach that goal seems particularly daunting. Especially when you factor in the fear of failure and therefore some people just decide the goal is too big.

The brave ones take the leap, implement the plan and then what? If they’ve hit the goal, fantastic but they could have done it better, they didn’t allow enough time, they could have planned better or been more ambitious. If they didn’t hit the goal all they can see is the failure of what they have tried to achieve.

These people are only seeing the gap.

To see the gain is to acknowledge that maybe the outcome wasn’t what they wanted but that doesn’t mean they’ve failed. That progress has been an important part of their development because they have acknowledged that they didn’t achieve exactly what they wanted but are choosing to focus on where they are now, what they did achieved and what they’ve learned along the way.

These people are acknowledging the gap, but they are embracing the gain.

It’s an interesting concept and one that can easily be applied to business.

Most people begin their businesses to pursue their passion and make money doing something they love. They dreamed of putting in enough hard work to eventually be able to sit back and reap the rewards, preferably from their second home overlooking a sunny beach.

Unfortunately, the realities of running a business are very different and you are expected to handle things that are way out of your comfort zone. You’re the CEO, Finance Director, Social Media Manager, General Admin, Customer Services, Marketing Manager, Data Controller and that’s before you even get to the bit you love doing, the actual job. This isn’t what you imagined right?

That reality can be unsettling and it’s easy to lose sight of what you wanted to achieve when you first set out, it’s even easier to lose sight of the goals that will help you get there. You are living in the gap!

A gentle shift in your thought process will help you see the gains and an important part of that is setting the goals and taking the leap. I would suggest you start with a 90 day plan which gives you plenty of time to implement the process.

Click here to download a free template

I hear you, you’re snowed under but taking an hour out of your week to really think about how you want your business to progress and what you need to achieve to get there will help give you clarity and help you reflect on your current situation.

It will help you organise your time, access resources, direct your attention to what you want to achieve, align your focus and reignite your passion for your business.

And if you don’t achieve exactly what you wanted, look at how far you have come from the time you implemented the plan and build another that’s more appropriate to where you are now.

Leap the gap and see what you gain, I dare you!