A lot has happened in the past few weeks. But, the biggest changes is that Beyond the Chaos has gone from a solopreneurship to a 3-person business. That means we are implementing policy, process and procedures!
As a solopreneur, you can operate without much in the way of policy, process and procedures. Although, I would argue that some procedures should be in place depending on what you do. But, your one-man (or woman) show is simply that: one person.
The “going from one person to more than one” requires a lot of change. Implementing policy gets everyone on the same page with the rules. You need to document process to enable delegation. Procedures need to be written down, so others can follow the same methods based on your insights.
Policy, process and procedures are things I speak to every day with my clients. Helping them implement these for their businesses helps those businesses grow. And now, I have the opportunity to eat my own dog food, so to speak. (And, I’m hoping it is of the filet mignon variety… maybe with a nice red wine?)
To that end, I wanted to share what I’ve learned in the past few weeks and where and how policy, process and procedures come into play.
Policy is “the rules.” It’s not negotiable… it’s things like:
- what to do when you need a day off
- what the holidays are
- whether or not you have to do a time sheet and by when
- when are the paydays
- what is the 401K or health insurance information
- what are the FileMaker license keys
Note that policy can be changed. You can start without a 401K and add it later, for example.
As you grow, you can no longer decide your holidays based on your workload. You can’t go on vacation without letting someone know. You have to have a few rules and structure to avoid frustration. What if your part-time employee didn’t know she needed to tell you about a vacation/time off — or how to notify you? Or, what she told you, but you forgot because there was nowhere to document it?
Write that stuff down and communicate it to your team. You can document it as it comes up, too. So, an important part is to have a central place to store them. And a process to communicate them company wide. We keep our policy, process and procedures in Basecamp 2 Text documents. Changes are shared via comments added to the initial document.
Process includes the steps to accomplish a task. It’s things like:
- how you sell something to a new client
- how to make sure the client gets a bill
- details on which app to use for what purpose
- how to log into a FileMaker database
- how to post to social media
If you don’t follow a consistent process, how do you get help? For example, when I write my blogs, they need to be proofread, an image needs to be created, there is a series of social media platforms where the content needs to be shared, and they need to be emailed out to my list. Other than the writing, I can get help with the other steps. But, I lose that option if I don’t clearly share what’s in my brain.
One of the ways we are moving forward to delegate things like this is through online meetings that are recorded and then transcribed. So, I show and the team member watches. We record that meeting and I send it off to be transcribed. (I highly recommend Rev for this purpose — fast and good.) Then, we have the recording for reference and it is easier to pull the text out of the transcription for the written process.
Having the process in a central place, like Basecamp allows for, also means that the team can collaborate on the process. For example, if an efficiency is found, the person can simply edit the process and notify the team of the change.
Of policy, process and procedures, procedures are probably the most straightforward. Simply put, a procedure is a checklist. We keep procedures as To-do lists in Basecamp 2. The main one I put together immediately was onboarding employees. As I went through my first hire, I built a list of everything needed from interviews to posting headshots and bios to our website to getting them access to the assorted software to work in the business.
With that list, I can duplicate it to make an off-boarding procedure as well. So I know what to do should one of them leave.
Other procedures can be things like:
- onboarding a new client
- kickoff call checklists
- starting new projects
Simply put, think of a procedure as something that can be duplicated over and over and followed so you don’t forget a step — like a checklist for an airplane before it leaves the gate.
In summary, policy, process and procedures are what are the backbone for growing your business. And, in the end, if you have them in place when it comes time to sell your business, it will be a much more valuable entity, rather than just a client list.
What are some of the policy, process and procedures you have for your business?
Originally published at Beyond the Chaos: Small Business Project Management and Operations Consulting.