As companies grow larger, the necessity of having standard operating procedures (SOPs) for managing recurring events and occurrences usually becomes apparent. SOPs make it easier to train new employees and maintain quality. They also lead to greater productivity and efficiency for the company, among other reasons.
But SOPs aren’t just for large enterprises, they’re for startups too! Yes, even those of you who have barely 10 employees on payroll.
From client acquisition to customer service, SOPs can and should be drawn up for any regularly repeating occurrence in the company.
In this piece, we’ll explore some of the common objections startups have to setting up SOPs and show you why you may want to rethink your resistance.
Objection 1: We’re too small a team to need SOPs!
Unless your team consists of just you and your co-founder(s), who already know everything about the company inside-out, you’ll need SOPs.
The Onboarding Process
Once you begin hiring your first (few) employee(s), setting up SOPs for the onboarding process itself can be really useful. What time should the employee report to work on their first day? Who will they be reporting to? What are some of the things they need to know to perform their role? What types of access (keys, passwords, email accounts etc.) do they have to be given? How do I want them to spend their first day? What about their first week?
Having answers to these questions makes both you and your employee less flustered during their first few days at work. It also gives you an idea of what you’ll need to prepare before the employee arrives and how much time you’ll need to carve out of your undoubtedly full-to-bursting startup founder schedule to provide them with basic training.
Objection 2: It’s too much work. I trust the people I hire to do their jobs without being explicitly told what to do.
Many startups in their nascent stages hire only people who are flexible, open to trying new things and able to think quickly on their feet. This is to cope with the volatile, fast-changing nature of startup operations and to ensure that the employee is comfortable with playing more than one fixed role.
This might lead some startup owners to believe that their employees can and should work well with minimal direction. While this may be true, you’ll need to think about how much of the employee’s daily work you’d like to have standardised.
Client Acquisition or Customer Service
If the roles you’re hiring for are customer-facing and you think you’ve already worked out the best method of approaching your startup’s (potential) customers, it’s best to get such information down on paper.
Is there a particular tone of voice that increases response rate? Does it make a difference whether they follow up after 3 working days or 5? Is it more effective to add the prospect on LinkedIn before sending them an email?
Since customer-facing roles require your employees to represent the company to individuals who will contribute to your company’s revenue, it’s important that any message or impression you wish to convey is accurately put across. Setting some ground rules for engagement also decreases room for confusion and error on the employee’s part.
As your startup increases in size or deals with the high turnover rate typical of startups, having such SOPs also makes training new employees and handing duties over easier.
If creating an SOP seems like it would be too much work, or if you’re afraid that an SOP might make your employees feel stifled, remember that this is not something you have to attempt alone. Begin by putting in what is most necessary, then refine the document by letting your employees make contributions over time based on the practices that have served them well.
Objection 3: I don’t have the time!
As a founder, you’re busy—we get that. There are so many other things you have to worry about, where are you going to find the time to create a document (or several of them) detailing aspects of how you want various parts of the company to be run?
Brand Style Guides
If your startup runs a website, has a social media presence or is doing any form of marketing at all, you’ll need to create a brand style guide. Although brand style guides may not seem like a part of the standard operating procedures, it is a document that helps companies make their visual assets more consistent over time and across platforms.
What is your startup’s logo? What are your startup’s colours? What sort of fonts does your startup use? Deciding these things, among others, in order to create a brand style guide may take a good bit of your time, but it’ll save you lots of frustration in unstandardised work as your company grows.
In addition, the process of creating these documents helps your startup decide its brand voice, which will be useful for marketing your product or service.
If these are some of the objections you’ve had to creating SOPs in your startup, we hope we’ve managed to convince you otherwise. Establishing SOPs may seem troublesome, but above all, helps both you and your employees increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
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