When you start out in business, there are hundreds of tasks you do yourself. You’ve done it a million times, so you just do it, and don’t think about it.

And as you grow, you’ll need to (and want to) pass off certain tasks to someone else. But your newly hired assistant isn’t going to understand your business as well as you do. She’ll need guidance and training on how to do certain tasks in your business. 

If you have written procedures on how to handle tasks you’ll be setting yourself, and your assistant, up for success.  She won’t spend time wondering what to do next or stumbling through a process. With written procedures it’s all laid out, step by step. 

Or, there may be tasks that you don’t do very often and you’ve forgotten how. A documented procedure will allow you to quickly access that information on how to do the task. Without wasting time figuring it out again.  

Benefits of Having Documented Processes

I’ve been documenting processes in my business for 12 years now and I’ve seen some great benefits:

  • If I forget how to do something, I’m not having to waste time figuring it out again.
  • It helps team members learn the process faster
  • Reduces the number of mistakes made 
  • It’s easier to transfer tasks to an assistant quickly if needed
  • Important information isn’t just “in someone’s head”
  • Team members take ownership in improving and updating the process as needed

Overall, it saves you time, money, and headaches!

Why Document Your Processes?

A few years ago, I was having a conversation with my husband about how my assistant was stumbling through a task. I felt so bad for her because I had developed a procedure for the task, but had failed to give it to her. 

So she was having to reinvent the wheel, as I did the first time around. My failure to give her the procedure cost me time and money. I won’t do that again!

Don’t have an assistant yet?  I’ve written articles about how to hire a virtual assistant and six strategies for getting started on outsourcing. You may not be ready to hire help for your business yet, and that’s ok.  

Just keep reading on because there are things you can do now so that you’re prepared when it’s time to outsource. Start developing documented procedures for everything you do now. It’s an important step to setting yourself up to grow your business! 

napkin with hand drawing of a workflow process

How To Get Started

As you go through your daily routine, ask yourself, “Have I done this before? Is it taking longer because I don’t have a written process in place?” 

If you find yourself wasting time trying to figure out something you’ve done before, I’ve been there! So just write it down now! Next time, it won’t take you as long.   

Or, ask yourself, “Do I need to be doing this?” If the answer is NO, then start documenting the task, so that you can outsource it and pass it off to someone else.

Keep in mind, it’s important for YOU to know how to do the task FIRST. Write down exactly how you want the task performed. And, importantly, write down WHY you do that task. That way, when you do outsource it, you can be certain it’s completed in a way that matches your business goals. 

The Free Tool We Use for Our Procedures:

You can purchase fancy and expensive software to develop and track procedures.

I prefer to keep it simple and use Google Docs for most of my procedures. This allows my team members to make edits and updates to the procedures if needed. We can collaborate, ask questions, and make comments to each other in the procedure.  

What if you haven’t had a chance to document procedures, but you need to hire help now? Here’s an idea. Have the new team member document the steps as you teach him/her. It’s a great way to give the team member more ownership of the process!

Planning Now = Less Pain Later

I learned a valuable lesson that day with my new assistant. Since then, procedures (and making sure my team members have access to them!) have been a critical aspect of my business.  

If you’re hoping to grow your online business, plan now for that growth! Open a word document or Google Doc and start writing down how to handle parts of your business.  Especially those that you think you’ll want to outsource soon.  

Don’t worry if your business is not at the point where you’re ready to take on help!  Start documenting your process now, so that when you are ready to pass something off, it’s a smoother transition. Taking the time to do that today, will save you time later down the road. 

This article was originally published in June 2013

Print Friendly, PDF & Email