Why SOPs are a Waste of Time
(What you should do instead)
How many times have you heard that you need to make SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) so that you can scale your business?
XYZ course said I need SOPs right now, so I can scale.
My coach said SOPs only take 15 minutes to create, so I should make them now, right?
ABC program gave me a template SOP, so I’ll just use those.
You might have heard this before and maybe you’ve even gone down the road of writing SOPs yourself.
Maybe you’ve realized you don’t like writing SOPs and writing them is draining your time and energy.
Or maybe you’ve also realized that the SOPs you painstakingly created (or paid someone 💰💰💰 to create) are just sitting in a folder… and no one actually uses them.
I literally hear someone say SOPs are absolutely required so that you can scale your business, at least 1x a day.
But here’s the thing: SOPs are a waste of time to create unless your processes are mature.
What the heck does that mean and what does it mean for you as you scale to multi-6 figures and beyond?
First things first - let’s be clear, I'm not saying that SOPs are totally unnecessary. But I AM saying that you shouldn’t waste your time creating SOPs, until your processes are fully developed.
Meaning, you shouldn’t be creating SOPs until your process guarantees that you get the results that you want.
This looks like holding off on documenting your launch process until you’ve run it enough times to know that it works and it gives you the launch that you want.
If it’s your first time through a launch, you might find that the launch strategy doesn’t work for you. That you need to try a different approach, make adjustments, or combine a couple of different strategies to make the launch work for your specific business.
If you created an SOP for this as soon as you launched, you would waste time revising your SOP for every tweak and adjustment or, like many of my clients, have to create a brand new SOP when they do land on their final launch formula.
So until your process is clear and produces the results that you want so that you’re not duplicating work, it’s a waste of creating SOPs for processes that are in flux.
What should you do instead of an SOP?
You might be thinking, “Ok, so I don’t need an SOP…but I still want to delegate some or all of this work to my VA or team?”
How do you train and transfer knowledge without an SOP?
An SOP is just ONE way to transfer knowledge and after writing SOPs for over 10 years, I know it’s one of the most time-consuming ways to transfer knowledge AND it has the lowest transfer success (Successful knowledge transfer requires a few different things, more on that next time).
If you don’t believe me, think back to a time when you might have worked a corporate or traditional job. Did you read the employee handbook from cover to cover? Did you remember each and every detail?
There are a few different ways to transfer knowledge instead of an SOP, and my personal favorites (and what we primarily use in my team) are process outlines.
These outlines can be created in Excel, Google sheets, or your Project Management software and outlines the basic steps to complete the work including:
- The task – what needs to be done
- Description – a description of the work
- Templates – the templates needed to complete the task
- Tech – where is this task completed
- Assignment – who completes this work
This might seem similar to an SOP, but the key difference is that they don’t require as much work to create and it is designed to allow us to update, tweak, add, delete, and move around tasks without requiring revision.
Here’s a sample of what ours looks like.
There is significantly less writing required and the team can use it “at a glance” and know what needs to happen and where. We use the process outlines to confirm the process works BEFORE we spend time creating the final SOP that locks in the process.
When do you NEED SOPs?
Coaches, gurus, and influencers wouldn’t say you need SOPs unless you actually do need them, right?
So when do you absolutely need SOPs?
Creating SOPs is an investment in time and resources and the ultimate goal is to transfer knowledge, so that you can hand off work and guarantee results.
You need SOPs when you are handing off full processes and delegating responsibility for the end results. When you are handing off the responsibility to get the results, a process outline doesn’t include enough context for a VA to complete the work and know they got the correct end results.
You need additional context that the full written SOP can provide without you stepping in to manage, QA, or do more training.
The SOP becomes the training tool.
You might think “Why don’t I just start here, then? If I’m going to need it anyway, let me just write the SOPs from the start?”
You could do that. But from my experience, 90%+ of the time, a business owner typically doesn’t know their exact process for getting results, they haven’t locked the tech they use to get the results, and they also don’t know what they need to manage or empower their VA executing the work at the start.
These are pieces that you learn as you execute the process and as you work with a VA or a team.
So sure, you can definitely write SOPs as the start, but be prepared to invest more time and resources to revise as you develop your process. But if you want to be able to transfer knowledge, delegate work, and master your processes, then start with your process outlines.
That’s exactly what I help my clients do through my Effortless Expansion program.
We lock in the tech and create their processes together so they can scale their business with ease – and do it with maximum freedom and flexibility.
Check out the latest:
Scaling your business can be so confusing.
But it doesn't have to be!
Take the Business Ops Assessment and in less than 5 minutes I’ll tell you what’s standing in the way of your next $100k and what to do about it. Sound good?