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Lessons We Learned In Our First Year in Business

FocusCopy Turns 1 Years Old (6 Lessons We Learned In Our First Year in Business)

Over the weekend, FocusCopy celebrated its 1 year in business (August 15, 2020). 

And it’s been one heck of a year! 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 20% of entrepreneurs fail in their first year of business. If it’s a first-time entrepreneur or a woman-owned business, then the success rate dwindles even further. Additionally, COVID-19 has put many companies out of business (over 60,000).

Theoretically, it should have put us out too.

But with the odds stacked against us and with our incredible clients and partners, we’re standing here today – stronger than when we started and looking to grow further. 

If you’re a first-time business owner or a serial entrepreneur, don’t be bound by those statistics.

6 Lessons We Learned In Our First Year in Business

Here are a few lessons that we learned in our first year of business that are too good not to share with you. 

1. Surround Yourself With Other Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial loneliness is a real thing, and I’m so thankful that I learned that lesson during my time in the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship. Very quickly after launching FocusCopy, I surrounded myself with clients and partners that were truly invested in my and FocusCopy’s success. It made all the difference in the world. 

When I had a question about anything, they had answers. 

They found opportunities for us that we didn’t know existed. 

When I needed emotional support, they encouraged me. 

They wanted to see me and FocusCopy grow and succeed. 

2. Celebrate Every Win.

At every milestone (even the most seemingly insignificant ones), we celebrated. Because I acknowledged and celebrated every “win”, I woke up more energized to surpass my client’s expectations. It made working 12-16 hour days a walk in the park. Celebrating every win allowed me to be grateful and sustain ourselves in this marathon that is being an entrepreneur. 

What were some of our wins? 

  • Signing the first client
  • Seeing that first check hit the bank account (even if it was only $50)
  • Closing our first out-of-state client
  • Having to order more business cards because I ran out of the first 1,000
  • Seeing one of clients have their 2 best months ever in business after their worst month ever due to COVID
  • Hiring our first employee

Find it. Mark it. Celebrate it. 

3. Say “Yes” Then Figure It Out Later.

From the very foundation, this was one of our company values, and it still rings true today. When a client asks for something, always always say “yes”. You never know what it’s going to lead to – a bigger deal, a lesson learned, a new business partnership. 

Create a willingness to just say “yes”. Yes, it will be scary. Yes, you may be in uncharted waters. 

But if you never say “yes”, then you’ll never know what could have been. 

4. Hire a Bookkeeper.

Thanks to one of my favorite “bosses” and mentors Jim Wilkinson, I learned the importance of accounting early on in my career. Our bookkeeper has been the biggest blessing to FocusCopy’s growth (and to my sanity). Find a bookkeeper – no matter what your size – they can help you keep your books clean, help you celebrate your growth, and find your opportunities to optimize your financials. 

If you aren’t an expert in a particular area, outsource it. Just like a bookkeeper isn’t an expert in copywriting, a copywriter doesn’t need to be an expert in or do their own bookkeeping. In the same way, a copywriter doesn’t need to be a graphic artist or vice versa.

5. Work With Clients Who Want To See You Succeed.

We have the best clients! I say it all the time. One thing that I didn’t expect starting my own business is that my clients would be as invested in my business as I was in theirs. 

Every meeting, my clients would ask (and want to know) how business was going. 

They would even refer business to us because they knew the value we bring and they wanted both their colleagues and us to succeed. 

To my clients, thank you for your unending support and love! It means the world to me and my team! 

6. Listen Closely.

Keep your ear to the ground and listen for what’s happening – in the world, with your clients, and with your client’s clients. 

A mentor once told me to look in the most unlikely places to find what you need to be a great entrepreneur. 

This advice is what I attribute our ability to pivot so quickly after the quarantine to hit. As a result, we were able to not only grow ourselves, but help clients come back from their worst month ever in business or come back from what should have looked like bankruptcy. Every single one of our clients are not only surviving, but truly thriving! 

It’s been an absolute blessing to be part of that. 

Year 2

We’re so excited for what the next year holds for FocusCopy. Plans are in place; now we need to execute them!


Be In The Know.

Starting August 24, 2020, FocusCopy will be sending out a bimonthly newsletter with what we’ve learned, what we’re seeing in the marketplace, and copywriting tips that will be a game changer for your sales growth. 

Avoid Business Burnout

Avoid Business Burnout by Communicating Your Boundaries

Back-to-back Zoom or Teams meetings. No boundaries between your home office and your home. Heightened stress due to uncertainty or overwhelm. It’s no wonder that I’ve encountered so many entrepreneurs who confess… 

  • “I’m exhausted.”
  • “I’m tired.”
  • “I just need a minute.”
  • “When will this be over?”
  • “I need a break.”
  • “I’m spent.”

Burnout is a real thing, and it’s rampant among business owners right now. So we partnered with one of our friends Chelsie Ward of Chelsie Ward Wellness to discuss how to avoid business burnout to protect your health and how to communicate your new boundaries. 

What is Business Burnout? 

Burnout is emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged or persistent stress

If you’re a business owner experiencing burnout, you probably have trouble finding the energy to complete and oversee normal business procedures – despite your best efforts. As a result, your company could be underperforming, causing even more stress to fuel the burnout fire.   

Why Burnout Is More Common During a Stay-At-Home Order

Many business owners and entrepreneurs are not quick to admit when they are experiencing burnout. Afterall, we know what we signed up for! We didn’t decide to start our own businesses because we thought it’d be a walk in the park. Our work is constant and demanding, but we are committed to giving it our all because we are passionate about what we do.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”

Simon Sinek

However, no matter how passionate you are about your company—the people you work with and serve—these unprecedented times can cause anyone to burnout. It’s not a sign that you don’t care, but rather the opposite. 

As a business leader, many people depend on you. You’re responsible for livelihoods. Maybe you’re someone who is typically able to cope well with business-related stress because you have in mind a certain path forward to help others. 

However, burnout is more common during a Stay-At-Home order like the one we’re currently in because things are so uncertain. This pandemic is a prolonged stressful event where solutions are not always clear. Guidelines and best practices for conducting business are constantly changing. An olympic athlete wouldn’t have enough stamina to keep pace with it all! It’s no wonder, entrepreneurs just like you are experiencing quicker rates of burnout.

So what can you do to avoid  burnout without sacrificing productivity during a Stay-At-Home order?

Two words.

Create boundaries.  

Boundaries & Their Health Benefits 

Before we get into how to communicate your boundaries to avoid business burnout, let’s talk about the health benefits of boundaries. 

Better Routine → More Productivity

When things are going well, it is easier to stick to a routine. We feel confident that things are on-track even when we decide to take breaks to…

  • Workout for an hour
  • Meditate for 20 minutes
  • Spend time with family
  • Practice a hobby we enjoy

We can incorporate these things into our routine because we know from experience that at the end of the day, everything that was pressing can be accomplished.

But, once we start to feel overwhelmed, it can be hard to justify taking even a 20 minute break. When we’re stressed, the first thing to breakdown is our normal routine. You might think that skipping out on these small breaks will give you more time to spend working on increasing demands. 

In reality, routines with more scheduled breaks lead to more productivity. For instance…

… A few moments of meditation each day can improve your focus and concentration.

… Daily exercise circulates blood and releases endorphins to boost your energy and mood.

… Task-switching or doing activities outside of your normal work can help you overcome blocks by promoting creative problem-solving.

Be willing to create a routine with structured breaks, so you can take care of yourself and efficiently serve others.   

Better Rest

Have you been burning the candle at both ends? Stress can lead us to let go of our boundaries that let us rest. But sleep is incredibly important for our cognitive functioning and mood regulation. 

If staying up all hours of the night seems like your only option lately, have you heard of Parkinson’s Law?

Use Parkinson’s Law

According to Parkinson’s Law, work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, if you give yourself the whole day to work on a one-hour task, it will take you the whole day to complete it.

If you’re not strict about your boundaries around work hours, you’ll end up spending more time than you need to on certain tasks. If you’re working until the eleventh hour day in and day out, you’ll eventually lose steam! 

Instead, use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage. Set tighter timelines for your tasks, and be strict about them!  If you know you only have a certain amount of time to complete something, you’ll find a way to do it more efficiently.

This will help you get more rest, so you’ll be better prepared to tackle the big things each day.  

Less Stress Due to Unmanaged Expectations

Success in any relationship—professional or personal—comes with a level of  expectation. When expectations aren’t met, disappointment, frustration, and stress tend to rise to the surface. 

Now is a good time to ask yourself whether your expectations for yourself and others are realistic. And no, I don’t mean realistic for a month or a year ago. I mean are they realistic for right now

Give yourself time to reassess your expectations in light of current events. This doesn’t mean that you have to stop pursuing big things! It might just mean it’s time to pursue different things, or approach them from a new direction. 

Setting clear boundaries around what you can and can’t accomplish is critical to reducing stress.  

Communicate Your Boundaries to Avoid Business Burnout

Once you’ve established which boundaries you’re ready to set, it’s time to communicate your boundaries to avoid business burnout.   

Tell Everyone What You’re Doing

Setting boundaries doesn’t mean you have to drop off the face of the earth without a word. In fact, you should do the opposite!

It might seem counterintuitive to talk about setting boundaries when we all feel like we should be doing more. But by being transparent about your approach, you can help others do the same. 

Tell everyone what boundaries you’re setting and why you’re setting them. Highlight all of the health and productivity benefits that your non-work activities are affording you. When they recognize the value in these boundaries, they’ll be able to respect them and might adopt them themselves.

Block Off Time On Your Calendar

Don’t be afraid to block off time on your calendar. Seriously! 

Even for companies like FocusCopy that work remotely 100% of the time, it can be very easy to flirt with the line of burnout.

A couple of weekends ago, we had a lot of client work to produce. Knowing that my team would be spending the weekend writing over 20 deliverables, I blocked off my calendar on Monday and Tuesday so that no one could schedule a meeting with me. I know what you’re thinking…

Lauren, that seems silly. You may be throwing away sales opportunities. 

Maybe so. But, if those opportunities aren’t willing to respect what I need to be healthy now, then think about how they’re going to be when they are clients.

Establish New Standard Operating Procedures

As your boundaries and expectations change, you’ll want to keep your standard operating procedures updated too. This will minimize miscommunications and help establish routine to increase the wellness and productivity within your company’s community. If you’d like some tips about stages of SOP adaption, development, and implementation, check out this blog.

Take the steps to avoid business burnout, so you can continue to do what you do best during these stressful times. 

Meet Chelsie Ward of Chelsie Ward Wellness

Chelsie Ward of Chelsie Ward Wellness has a background in applied behavior analysis. Her study of the psychology of the mind has helped her devise successful behavioral intervention techniques to help others succeed in reaching their health and wellness goals. Her career as a nurse (BSN, RN) has given her extensive insight into the conventional Western approach to health care and see firsthand the negative, systemic effects to our bodies caused by the food industry and big pharma. If you’re an entrepreneur, business leader, or just a busy professional who is struggling with some facet of your health, Chelsie can find the root to your problem and build a solution to heal yourself. Learn more about her coaching programs here.


Communicating Your New IT Solutions

Communicating Your New IT Solutions During COVID-19 with Brooks IT Services

If you’re a regular around here, you know we usually talk about copywriting tips to help your business better communicate how it transforms your customer’s lives. Today, we’re taking a different direction to tell you why communicating your new IT solutions is critical for your business’ well-being. 

COVID-19 has been top-of-mind for many businesses lately. 

But the pandemic isn’t the only war we need to be fighting. Hackers are capitalizing on these unprecedented times to steal your information and compromise your security. Our friends at Brooks IT Services have put together these tips to help you avoid security threats and make sure that your genuine communications aren’t mistaken for spam.

3 Ways to Combat Cyber Threats

There are several measures all companies can take to avoid cybersecurity breaches. Here are 3 ways to combat cyber threats that can be quickly put into effect.

1. Watch Out for Phishing Emails

In the era of social-distancing, our inboxes contain more email than usual. It’s 2020, and email remains at the center of vital business communications. Unfortunately, it is also at the center of countless cybersecurity breaches. We must be more guarded and suspicious of emails and watch out for phishing email scams. Brooks IT Services has seen an increase of 680% in phishing emails since the COVID-19 lockdown started.

What’s a Phishing Email?

A phishing email is an email sent by a cybercriminal to convince you to reveal your sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, or banking details. They do this by pretending to be a representative of a trustworthy company or someone you know. 

Hackers have caught on to the copywriting techniques that well-meaning companies use everyday and use them to craft their phishing scams. This makes it extremely difficult for people to know what is spam and what isn’t.

Can you spot the subject line that’s spam?

Not as easy as you’d hoped, right

Signs An Email Is A Phishing Scam

So how can you tell a phishing email from a legitimate one? Phishing emails…

Appear to be from a company you trust. Cybercriminals take advantage of the trust companies have with their clients. They’ll even include a company’s name and logo or attach a fake invoice. 

Notify you of fake suspicious activity. Hackers will scare you into providing your login information. They may claim there’s an issue with your account information or that there have been several login attempts. 

Include a “special offer.” They’ll offer coupons for free products or say you’re eligible for a free service. 

Have generic language and/or typos. When phishing emails are sent out in mass, the greetings are typically generic (“Dear Customer,” or “Hi Dear,”). Cybercriminals intentionally include spelling and grammatical errors in their emails too. They assume people who overlook these errors will be more gullible, and it’ll be easier to steal their information.

Be More Suspicious of Emails

Trustworthy companies will never ask for your personal information via email. Never download non-secure attachments. If you receive a suspicious email from a company you trust, double-check the sender’s email address. If it looks genuine, contact the company directly with a phone number or website you know is legitimate. 

Now that you know what phishing emails look like, how can you make sure your business communications don’t look like spam? 

Tips to Avoid Sending Spammy-Looking Emails

Familiarize clients with your email address. If you send emails from a marketing automation software (Infusionsoft, Hubspot, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc.),  let your audience know what to expect. Say what the email’s sender address will be and what the contents will look like.  

Minimize poor grammar and spelling errors. This may seem like a duh moment, but there are many professional emails littered with grammatical issues. Proofread your emails and send a test email to confirm there aren’t any mistakes. 

Provide secure downloads. Establish trust with your audience by hosting your downloads in a secure place like Google Drive, WordPress media, or Amazon S3. If you’re sending secure information, always make sure the emails are encrypted. You don’t want someone to steal that information while it’s navigating to the intended inbox. 

2. Use Work Computers

Another simple way to combat cyber threats is to have employees use work computers. With Stay-At-Home orders, non-essential work is being conducted from home. It might be tempting to switch over to personal computers, but this is incredibly dangerous. And no… we don’t mean dangerous for your work-life balance (although it might be for that too!).

Companies take several measures to ensure their computers and networks are secure and protected from cyber threats. These protections aren’t guaranteed on personal devices. If employees access a company network from a personal computer, malware can enter the network and compromise company security. 

To avoid this, provide secure company computers/laptops for employees’ at-home use. And if they aren’t already, have employees use a VPN to connect to business networks from home too. 

3. Improve Your Password Strategy

It’s tempting to set a simple password that’s easy to remember and saves you time. 

But hackers can crack a simple password in a matter of seconds. 

Your time is expensive, but security breaches are too. The good news is you don’t have to choose! You can improve your password strategy in little to no time.

The song lyrics strategy. Song lyrics are long, but easy to remember. Set your password as the first letter of each word in a song lyric. It will be nonsense to anyone else, but you’ll recall it quickly. For example, a password using the starting lyrics of the national anthem would be “Oscysbtdel”. This would take 20 octillion years to break using a PC; but many hackers access multiple computers so this likely break time is much shorter! Add in a symbol or two for even more protection.

Use a password manager. Most business owners have numerous login credentials. Using unique passwords for each one provides maximum security, but remembering them all can be grueling. Password managers are a great solution for setting and remembering highly secure passwords with minimal effort. You’ll just have to remember one password, and the rest is done for you.  

Change passwords regularly. Hackers use computer programs to test every combination of characters your password could be. This means it is only a matter of time before they crack even the most complex passwords. Set a recurring reminder in your calendar to change your passwords regularly so you’ll have new security details before they finish hacking. 

Communicating Your New IT Solutions During COVID-19

The pandemic hasn’t only impacted cyber security. It’s pushed many companies into remote work requiring new technology. To make this transition as smooth as possible, keep these things in mind when communicating your new IT solutions during COVID-19… 

Communicate Often 

The most predictable thing about our current situation is that it’s unpredictable. With each coming day, there’s something new we need to protect ourselves from – either physically or virtually. Shortly after Zoom’s rise in popularity, Zoom-bombing became an issue. Now we know password-protecting calls is essential. As technology and current events change rapidly, keep your employees informed through frequent communication.  

Become a Valuable Resource 

Don’t assume your audience knows the technology. Take time to make sure your communication is extra clear and your audience knows how to protect the application and information they access. The last thing you want is to be bombarded with a bunch of people asking how to get onto Zoom

Be a Person First 

This is something that we preach all the time… It’s not about your company. It’s about the customer. And when you’re dealing with your customers, you have to be a person first. Bryan Brooks affirmed, “they may be your employees, colleagues, and your clients. BUT they are people first.”

Stay Informed But NOT Obsessed

Trying to stay up-to-date on all the latest news is exhausting and unrealistic. With today’s 24-hour news cycle, you could be caught up for hours on end and still not get to everything. You’ll lose valuable work-time and gain more anxiety than benefit. 

So how can you stay informed without getting obsessed? Try signing up for an email newsletter that highlights important tech news. You’ll get straight to the important news, without wasting your time and energy. 

The experts at Brooks IT Services find the most relevant news stories in tech for you and deliver it to your mailbox each day so you can spend less time worrying and more time doing. 

Meet Bryan Brooks of Brooks IT Services

Bryan Brooks is the President and Founder of Brooks IT Services – a managed service provider for small to medium sized businesses. They are currently working hard to secure at-home offices and protect their client’s most valuable asset – their information. If you’re still wondering whether you need more security, download their 12 Little-Known Facts Every Business Owner Must Know About Data Backup, Security, And Disaster Recovery here. 

Copyright vs Copywriting

Copyright vs Copywriting: What’s the Difference?

We’ve been excited to write about this topic for a while. When networking with business owners, the question usually asked after “what do you do?” is… “So do you protect what you write?” Of course, we then actually spell out RIGHT vs WRITE to start explaining what we do. So what’s the difference between copyright vs copywriting?

Difference Between Copyright vs Copywriting 

Copyright vs copywriting… 2 words that sound the same when spoken have completely different definitions and purposes. We’ll try and keep this explanation as simple as possible.

When you strip the terms down to fundamentals, they are both processes. 

Copyright protects an item of value. It’s usually common with authorship of website copy, novels, or music.

On the other hand, copywriting is the process of creating something of value that an organization can use to promote the product/service, grow the business, and/or even make it more efficient or business-optimized. 

Let’s dive a little deeper…

What is Copyright? 

Copyright is “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work).”

Merriam-Webster

In the U.S., Copyright law has its foundations in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, granting Congress the power to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”. The first original works protected by copyright were in 1790. Copyrights were later registered with and monitored by the U.S. Library of Congress. The federal Copyright Office was established as a separate entity to the Library of Congress in 1897.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a copyright provides legal protection for works of original authorship which are “fixed in any tangible medium of expression.”  This means that the work to be copyrighted must be in a form in which it can be perceived by others, either directly, or with the use of a device.

(If you need an attorney to help you with copyright or trademark, we have trusted individuals that can help you out. Contact us to connect with one of our trusted referral partners.)

So there it is… 

In layman’s terms, this means that if an organization wants to keep legal ownership of something it has created that is “fixed in any tangible medium of expression”, they must copyright it. Essentially, this means going through a registration process – similar in principle to registering a patent for intellectual property.

What Copyright Protects

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright covers both published and unpublished works. So, FocusCopy holds the copyright to this blog!

A copyright is a legal device that gives the creator of a literary, artistic, musical, or other creative work the sole right to publish and sell that work. Copyright owners have the right to control the reproduction of their work, including the right to receive payment for that reproduction. An author may grant or sell those rights to others, including publishers or recording companies. When someone violates a copyright, it is an infringement.

  1. Copyright protects the expression of an idea or vision, not the idea itself. In legal terminology, this concept is called the idea-expression dichotomy. It has been an important feature of legal reasoning related to copyright. Ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, and discoveries are not within the scope of copyright protection work.
  2. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. 
  3. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment someone creates the work. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. copyright.

Copyright vs Trademark

So what’s the difference between copyright vs trademark? Isn’t copyright a trademark? 

No, copyright protects original works of authorship. Whereas, a trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.

What does this mean for you?

Again, in layman’s terms, any documents, website design, website content, sales materials, internal procedures, etc., that your business creates are wholly owned by you. No other party has any implicit rights or ownership of the material. So your organization can and should copyright your material.

(We are not attorneys or qualified to provide a legal opinion. If you need an attorney, we have several that we can introduce you to.)

How to Copyright Your Materials

So what should you do to copyright your materials as defined previously? Quite simply, unless you think you are likely to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. copyright against someone, include a copyright symbol © and copyright ownership statement in the document (e.g. © 2020, Your-company-name. All rights reserved.).

Of course, you should secure legal advice on the exact wording for your company.  The previous text was simply provided as an example; it may not be legally sound for your location or company.

What is Copywriting? 

Copywriting is a comprehensive process from planning to conceptualization of advertisements and marketing campaigns (including text that appears on websites, in emails, internal marketing,  press releases, etc.). In the past, copywriting was a purely in-house job for a company with many companies employing gifted or highly talented writers.

However, since the tech-boom of 2000, or even a little before, the demand for tech writers and copywriters far outstripped their supply. The education system could not meet our demand for writers as many student’s focus shifted to jobs where they could make money and get rapid pay rises (i.e. technical, engineering, numerical and financial jobs). This left a vacuum.

As with all job-related vacuums, something always appears to fill the void.

In this case, outsourcers and freelancers across the globe filled the void. Some of the copy they write is terrible (just look at instruction manuals for inexpensive and sometimes even expensive electronics goods), and some copy is great. But mostly, it is average.

Today, organizations are looking for great copy.

Why?

Because they realize it helps drive and accelerate their company’s sales and growth. This is why copywriting services, like FocusCopy, thrive. It’s also why companies, more than ever before, are prepared to pay for great copy. But it doesn’t make it any easier to write!

Copywriting Scope

The scope of a piece of copy is critical to the quality, applicability, and usefulness of the copy. Often, the scope is ill-defined. An ill-defined scope for a piece of copy may result in copy being provided that is…  

  1. Not applicable to where it will be seen (i.e. in print, or on the Internet); the writers use different writing styles that work in one media but not the other
  2. Too technical, or not technical enough
  3. Inconsistent, often making the reader wonder what is going on with the company
  4. Written for the wrong audience and not providing what the real audience for the copy is expecting

These are key considerations that the copywriter (internal or external) must know prior to touching their keyboard.

Remember, contrary to many documents that organizations create, design your copy to sell. This means it should be…

  1. Concise. Attention spans are getting shorter; your copy needs to make your customer want to read more in about 8 seconds of reading time – maybe 2 or 3 sentences at most. In other words, the copy must communicate more using fewer words, yet still be clearly understandable
  2. Focused. To achieve #1, it needs a hook that demands more attention
  3. Engaging. To achieve #2, the hook must be unavoidable; if you succeed in #2, they must bite on the hook
  4. Convincing. Convince the customer to buy from YOU, not the other guys; now they are on the hook, you have more time to convince your customer and make them very comfortable with buying from you

Traditional Copywriting vs Technical Writing

Although we often link copywriting to sales and marketing activities, some copywriters, who have a technical bias, often do technical writing. What’s the difference between traditional copywriting vs technical writing?

  • Copywriters write to sell
  • Technical writers write to explain
  • Technical copywriters do both

Regardless of whether the copy author is a trained copywriter or a technical writer, neither will successfully create the document your company needs without a tightly defined statement of scope for the copy.

Copy Ownership

As stated above, ownership of the copyright on the copy belongs to the author and their employer (as this is usually a legal agreement in their terms of employment). 

So if you use an outsourcing company to create copy for you, who owns the copyright on the copy?

This can and perhaps should be a discussion you have with your legal team. 

Require the ownership of the copy to be spelled out clearly and unambiguously in the terms and conditions you sign with your outsourced copywriter/copywriting company. 

While different copywriters may have a different opinion, FocusCopy transfers the ownership of the copy to the buyer after it’s completed. But this is something you should verify with your copywriter.

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What Happens When Your Company Doesn't Have SOPs

What Happens When Your Company Doesn’t Have SOPs

Companies in all industries, big and small struggle with SOPs. Many people see Standard Operating Procedures as monotonous documents that do not add real value to the company. I only discovered the value of SOPs after something BIG happened in a company that didn’t have SOPs.

What Happened When My Company Didn’t Have SOPs

My first full-time job out of college was at a financial consulting and advisory firm. The owner and founder of the company was my professor and mentor. Although we were a small company (3-4 employees with multiple consultants), we were innovative. We created training and resource platforms for the CFO. We coached CFOs to be financial leaders. Our website moved mountains and connected customers from over 20 countries together. We had a lot of momentum, and we were just getting started. However, the majority of our business processes were not written down and were stored in our owner Jim’s brain. 

Then the unthinkable happened… It was a Thursday morning. We had a meeting scheduled to take our coaching program to the next level. 

My phone rang…

“Lauren, Jim passed away last night.”

After the shock of losing a friend, valued boss, and former professor subsided, I said these words… “His brain. All the information is gone.”

25 + years of experience, ideas, strategies, processes, and memories… Gone.

And unfortunately, we had not recorded or documented internal processes making it very difficult to operate without the expert.

While it is difficult to anticipate the loss of the brains behind a company, especially at the young age of 60, you need to be prepared by documenting day to day operations, and long term plans and goals. 

What Happens When Your Company Doesn’t Have SOPs

When a business has and uses Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), it is usually a sign that they have defined business strategy and can articulate how they want their business to evolve and grow. It also indicates that the company is sophisticated or at least anticipating becoming more sophisticated. SOPs act like the keel and rudder of a boat which keep the boat or ship sailing in the desired direction.

Companies Become Coracles

Companies become coracles.

What are coracles? And what has it got to do with SOPs?

To answer this question, have you ever seen a boat without a keel or rudder (check out a cwrwgl or Welsh Coracle)? Coracles – an ancient watercraft – are round, flat-bottomed boats with no keel or rudder. They may be fun for playing on a river or catching salmon, but they never or rarely carry more than one person. They are also difficult to paddle in a straight line (some say impossible) – which is always the shortest path between two points.

Business operations without SOPs are modeled after a coracle. They may operate well so long as the person running the company (paddling the coracle) is always there. But if they become ill, die, or simply quit the company, then what happens?

No one else in the company can paddle the coracle.

Many will try. Most, if not all, will fail because it requires a special skill – one that isn’t written down. So the business, just like a coracle without a skilled paddler, will lose direction. Perhaps even go around in circles, until someone grabs a rudder and shouts “enough!”.

Ultimately, we need to define and document how we work, where we are going, and how we will get there.

Companies Don’t Fire The Sacred Cow

Another thing that happens when your company doesn’t have SOPs is that you might have a difficult time firing employees that do not meet certain standards. These employees manage to stick around because they…

  • Have been around forever (or at least it feels that way)
  • Possess knowledge about essential processes and are often reluctant to share it
  • Retain key information about clients and products

Can you picture that person? We like to call them the Sacred Cow. They run havoc in the company because they manifest all the processes and are unwilling to share.

As a result, these individuals often hold what they know over the company’s heads, which makes it difficult to fire that employee.

Silos Form Between Departments

Companies often use SOPs to facilitate cross-department training. Different departments understand how others work and what they need from them. It helps create transparency inside of the business therefore, breaking down the invisible walls in the company. 

But when a company doesn’t have SOPs written and a part of the culture, silos form.

Why are silos in companies bad? Silos create division, make it easy to hide inefficiencies, and make it incredibly difficult to make any meaningful change in the company. 

For example, I once worked with a company who had multiple offices that needed to be on the same page with their processes and systems. Without SOPS, there was inefficiency in how they conducted business and allowed for operational vulnerabilities that might have major effects. 

Operations Stop When Key Employees Are Out

Sick days, vacation days, and life events happen. It’s a natural part of company operation. Without SOPs, operations stop when those key employees are out.

A couple sick days may not hurt your operation. However, 6 months of medical leave, maternity/paternity leave, or winning the lottery and disappearing to an island will have serious consequences on your operation. 

Company Disasters Can and Do Happen

When your company doesn’t have SOPs, it creates an opportunity for disaster to occur – some of which are irrecoverable.  Although unpleasant to think about, think about companies that were in the path of a natural disaster… Whatever the disaster, if those affected companies didn’t have SOPs to respond to the disaster, then it would be highly unlikely that they would last more than 6 months to a year… If that. Even if in these disasters, no one was hurt (or even died), the likelihood of survival after disasters without SOPS is unlikely.

Company “Innovation” Isn’t Innovating Anything

When you don’t have anything written down, any innovation you try to enact doesn’t really innovate anything. Instead, it’s often reinventing the wheel (and makes more work for yourself). It’s difficult to see what needs improvement. An innovation that isn’t documented rarely gets into production and even more rarely becomes your most successful…

If you innovate something but can’t reproduce it because you didn’t document what you did and how, is that an innovation or a disaster? Only you can decide. That innovation could have been your first, or next million dollar product. But if you can’t recreate it, then it has a business value of exactly $0. Think about it… You may not like to create documentation. You may not even be good at it. But if you don’t do it and don’t create SOPs, then it could be a very costly mistake. To help, we’ve created the Easy-To-Implement Scalable SOP Framework that you can access for free.

When your company doesn’t have SOPs, it creates an opportunity for disaster to occur. If you need help writing your company’s SOPs, reach out to us today

Implement Our Scalable SOP Framework & Scale Your Business Processes With Ease

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What Happens When Your Company Doesn’t Have SOPs
Business Processes and Business Longevity

Business Processes and Business Longevity

Businesses do one of three things…

  1. Grow
  2. Stay stagnant and eventually decline
  3. Fail

While there are many reasons that you could attribute failure, something that we have discovered is that businesses succeed or fail based on whether they are consistent in how they do things. In this blog, we highlighting how important standard operating procedures are and the relationship between business processes and business longevity.

Relationship Between Business Processes and Business Longevity

Oftentimes, small to medium sized businesses operate on what their owners and key employees know. These companies could have been around for decades or just a few months. But we have found when marketing a product or service or even consulting on cyber security, procedures are often in their heads. Even worse, business processes are often transferred to others via individual conversations and process walk throughs.

Such an approach has worked in small businesses and home businesses for years and in some cases decades.

But the approach doesn’t scale well as the organizations tries to grow rapidly.

How Business Lose Their Processes

Over time, training or onboarding gradually omits little details about the company’s processes and procedures. Eventually, the process that has been used “forever” suddenly fails, and no one can figure out why. After all, the standard technique has always worked. It worked for years! I’m sure we’ve all heard that phrase at sometime in our lives and careers.

As Michael E. Gerber (“The #1 Small Business Guru”) has argued for many years in his presentations and E-Myth books, most small businesses fail because their owners spend most of their time working ‘in the business’ as a technician and not ‘on the business’ as an entrepreneur. Because the owners are primarily working as a technician, their businesses growth is limited by their ability to physically work any additional hours. Why is this? 

Reasons Why Companies Fail To Not Write Their Business Processes

There are several reasons why business processes continue to not get written down…

#1 They Don’t Have More Time To Get Ahead Of Employees

Quite simply, business owners use the same 7-day week as everyone else. They have the same 24-hours in a day. Business owners typically put in more hours than their 40-hour a week counterparts. But those hours are usually allocated to other tasks.

#2 There Is Too Much Going On In Their Brain

Ever get brain fog? At FocusCopy, we often joke… “I lost my list!” That’s when there’s so much going on that their bodies just shut down and stop processing anything. They cannot produce anymore, develop new products, provide customer service improvements, significantly expands their customer base, and more, because all the knowledge and procedures needed to do this locked in their heads! 

#3 They Don’t Make It A Priority

We hear business owners say they don’t have time to train anyone else, to document what they do, to delegate required work, etc. But that’s really saying that they either aren’t making it or willing to make it a priority. This “busy-work” strongly limits the potential for their business to expand to the extent they wanted when they started their business.

How Business Owners Process The Need For Documentation

So, what can these business owners do?

They could document the procedures themselves… But wait! That would reduce the owners’ productivity and business revenue/income.

They could hire an inexpensive intern, high schooler looking for a part-time job, or even a recent college graduate. But wait! They would have to train them. And then… Could they even document the procedure?

After all, if you ask someone to develop a procedure for what you do when performing a task, what is their first response? Often, they say “I don’t know how to”, or “I can’t write”, or “I don’t have time”, or worse still “I don’t want to do that”. These responses are not surprising…

The Bigger Issue: No One Is Trained To Document What They Do

Writing down, or documenting, procedures is not something schools ever teach us (at least not where I went and where my kids went). It’s a skill you can acquire, but it requires training, practice, and commitment. Acquiring such skills is not a rapid process. It’s also not attractive to everyone in today’s “instant world”. We require that everything is accessible in very short timeframes.

Professional procedure developers, unlike a direct employee or contractor, do not need in-depth training on an organization’s operations to document one or more of its internal undocumented procedures. Yes, external contractors may initially appear more costly… BUT when their contract is complete, so are your payments.

Businesses, big or small, have decisions to make when considering how to document their processes and who will do it. When businesses use internal resources, they must consider available skills, training needed and on-going requirements for future process development. When business contract external resources to complete these tasks, most of the issues associated with internal resources terminate when the contract is completed. Additionally, because externally contracted process developers are professional process developers, they are likely to complete your documentation in less time than an internal process developer.

Owners and management of businesses that wish to expand and grow to their full potential should spend more time ‘working on their business’ and less time working ‘in their business’ by documenting key business procedures so others can complete them. 

Think about this… The CEO doesn’t necessarily have to lock up the office, but he or she is the key person to land the next big deal or expansion opportunity. By freeing up their time to do this, the business is far more likely to succeed and grow.

Where FocusCopy Comes In To Increase Business Longevity By Recording Business Processes

Business Processes and Business Longevity

FocusCopy helps businesses achieve procedure derived benefits by developing key business procedures with minimum operational impact.

In the end… We could write the business processes, but you have to create a culture that consistently goes back to the SOPs. You need to use them for them to be effective.

Click here to learn more about how FocusCopy can implement SOPs in your company and coach you on how to create a culture of process and procedure.

Implement Our Scalable SOP Framework & Scale Your Business Processes With Ease

become more process-oriented, productive, & focus on what moves the needle the furthest with this framework