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Processes & Procedures

Editorial Calendar With ClickUp

How To Build An Editorial Calendar With ClickUp That You Can Actually Stick To

Do you ever wonder how content creators find the time?

Especially businesses with heavy workloads, they somehow still have quality blogs, social media posts, newsletters, and updated web pages that get lots of traction. 

Want to know the secret behind the folks who always have something to post?

It’s all about the editorial calendar. 

But effectively planning out your editorial calendar can make the difference between publishing quality content and letting your greatest ideas fall through the cracks. 

What Is An Editorial Calendar? 

Essentially, an editorial calendar is a multi-functional calendar creators use to manage content creation and publication.

With the right software, you can schedule campaigns with the themes and tasks included. Plus, you can look at your content to-do list at a high level. But you can also take it to a granular level to input inspiration, references, and data for each small task. 

Have you ever thought about your 5 or 10-year plan, and then worked backward to list the work and milestones required to meet your goals? 

That’s pretty much the gist of an editorial calendar but with your short and long-term marketing goals in mind. 

Need someone to take over the reins of your editorial calendar? Contact us today and start sharing quality, high-converting copy.

Why Create An Editorial Calendar On ClickUp?

Personally, ClickUp is the software that we use. It also helps that it’s very effective at storing ideas, planning content, and getting it published efficiently. 

Plus, ClickUp allows users to view tasks in lists, boards, and in a calendar setting. This means that while planning, I can look at our to-do’s at a high level. Meanwhile, my employees can filter through tasks assigned to them with access to the notes and objectives for each piece.

Process To Build An Editorial Blogging Calendar With ClickUp

One of the best things about ClickUp is its versatility. You can customize it to fit your exact needs. However, this also means that coming at it as a blank slate can be overwhelming. There is an abundance of free tutorials available. But if you want to get straight to creating your editorial calendar, I’ve made it easy with a step-by-step guide. 

1. Do The Prep Work

One thing I’ve learned is you can’t count on inspiration to always hit at the right time. With so many different ongoing projects for my own business and my clients, the prep work is non-negotiable. 

Identify Content Pillars

After research comes the strategic part of the prep work: the content pillars. This is where we identify several topics that will tie into each other. For example, we’ve written several FocusCopy blogs about copywriting – because that’s what we do.  Within these blogs, we include backlinks to our other blogs relating to copywriting. 

If you check out our blog page, you’ll find blogs with topics centered around writing copy, including:

While that’s just a teaser because we have loads more blogs about copywriting, the goal is to answer as many readers’ questions as possible. But how do we know what readers are asking? Research.

Not only does grouping similar topics into content pillars provide value in the form of educating readers, this method also helps to increase our Google ranking. 

For example, FocusCopy’s content pillars are Copywriting, Content Writing, and General Marketing, Systems, and Entrepreneurship. If there is something we are considering, we always run it through our pillars. If it doesn’t fit, it’s thrown out or we rework it to give it a different angle. 

Pro Tip: Do not select more than 3-5 content pillars. The key is to focus. 

Identify Calls To Action

This is where the objective comes into play. Ask yourself, what do you want readers to do? It could be…

  • Subscribe to your newsletter
  • Download a lead magnet
  • Follow your business on social media
  • Schedule a time to grab a coffee and discuss your business goals

You may think that a reader will automatically know to contact you if they are interested in your product or service. However, you are giving readers too much credit. Not because they are lazy or unable to find your contact info on your website, but because we all have fish brains when it comes to searching the web. It’s too easy to close out and go on to the next blog or website if we’re not finding immediate answers to our questions. That’s why we need calls to action to tell readers exactly what steps to take next.

We live in a digital world with more data than we can even begin to comprehend and it’s literally all at our fingertips. According to Portent, “Website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time.”

If the goal of your marketing efforts is to convert readers into paying customers, time is of the essence. You need a quick-loading website and linked calls to action to tell your readers exactly what to do. 

Now that you have your calls to action listed (and understand their importance), it’s on to the next step!

Not sure what calls to action you need to include? FocusCopy can help! Get in touch with us here.

2. Create The List In Your ClickUp

Managing your editorial calendar is simple when it’s all in one place. Create a list and name it “Editorial Calendar”. You’ll be able to track and organize your upcoming blogs at high and granular levels with ease.

Editorial Calendar With ClickUp

It should look something like this when you’ve created it. 

Editorial Calendar With ClickUp

3. Create Fields

Let’s get into the details! This step is all about getting the nitty gritty specific subtasks, data, and labels down. 

Rather than going through this process for each blog topic, create one blog task with all the fields below. You’ll be able to use this as a template to easily duplicate.

We suggest creating the following fields in this order: 

  • Content Pillar using the Dropdown field
  • Call To Action using the Dropdown field
  • Type of Blog using the Dropdown field
  • In Progress using the Website field
  • Published Link using the Website field

If you want to go all out, you can include the following fields: 

  • Author
  • Target Keywords
  • SOP

This is what it looks like inside a given task. 

Editorial Calendar With ClickUp

4. Brain Dump All Your Topics As Tasks

Input all of your topics as separate blog tasks. Over time, you will learn what parts to tweak. But for now, this will be a functional home for your editorial calendar to-do list.

Now that you have your template blog task with the appropriate fields, right-click and select “duplicate”. ClickUp will prompt you to adjust the name and what elements to copy over. If you’re using an open blog template (not a completed task), then I suggest simply changing the name and including all fields. 

You can also create a template inside of ClickUp so there’s no need for duplicating. 

5. Fill Out As Much Information In The Fields

After you input blog topics as tasks, it’s time to fill out those fields. This is much easier with the dropdown fields mentioned above.

The great thing about ClickUp is you don’t have to cover all the details. So if there’s something you’re unsure about – like the due date or which employee to assign to said task, just leave it blank for now. 

However, it’s best to fill out as much information as possible at this point. Go through the bullet points above under “Create Fields” and watch your editorial calendar come to life!

But remember, if you’re unsure about something, don’t let it create a bottleneck in your workflow. Simply move on and fill out what you can. Make sure to schedule time in your calendar to go back to complete these fields. Sometimes making appointments with yourself is necessary to make sure everything gets done!

6. Schedule Your Blogs

While it would be great to complete all tasks as they are created, that may be edging on wishful thinking. To ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, it’s time to schedule the blogs with due dates.

But it’s not just the final due date. Instead, schedule dates to start and complete each subtask. For instance, say you want to publish a Halloween-themed blog on October 31st. To ensure that you or your employees have enough time to make the deadline, schedule the outlining portion of the blog for 3 weeks ahead of time. Then, schedule the drafting to take place over a couple of days, 2 weeks ahead of time. Next, you’ll want to make sure to schedule the process of checking SEO, editing, addressing edits, finalizing, and finally…publishing!

With enough lead time, and a little cushion (can’t forget about clients!), you’ll be able to post your spooky Halloween post with timely relevance to the holiday season. 

Bonus Tips

As I said before, ClickUp has a ton of features! So many, in fact, I can’t imagine one business needing to utilize every single one. But that also makes ClickUp a versatile tool that can be used throughout many industries. Here are some additional tips to help expand your ClickUp experience.

Use “Whiteboard” To Generate Content Ideas

More of a visual brainstormer? Me, too!

What’s cool here is you can create tasks directly out of Whiteboard. This means that you can arrange your pillar content and branch off into more niche topics from a high level. Being able to create tasks this way takes collaboration and creating your editorial calendar to a whole new level!

Editorial Calendar With ClickUp

Look Via “Schedule” To View It On Calendar View

Need to get a view of your overall calendar?

Again, ClickUp’s versatility comes in clutch. Select the calendar view to see how all your tasks appear over the course of a week, month, or year. You can filter down the dates for your exact needs.

Want To Skip The How-To & Publish Quality Blogs For Your Business?

You can always skip the tutorials and go straight to the experts. At FocusCopy, we work with small female-owned businesses to produce high-converting copy.

And the best part? While we do what we do best (writing copy), you can focus on running your business. You can confidently get through your to-do list knowing that quality copy is on its way to boost your brand’s reputation, SEO, and overall growth.

Want to learn more about how FocusCopy can position your business for success? Reach out and let’s start the conversation.

Focus Your Copy On Conversation & Conversion

Let’s Grab A Virtual Coffee With Us To Discover How To Boost Your Words
How We Use ClickUp to Manage Our Content Production Calendar

How We Use ClickUp To Manage Our Content Production Calendar

If there is one thing we do better than other copywriting firms, it is managing our content production calendars. It’s critical for our business to succeed and would normally require a lot of preparation and planning. But our professional copywriting business uses a management application called ClickUp, packed with features to keep our calendars in line and on the move.

We quickly realized that talking about how we manage our workload can help a ton of other small businesses out there manage theirs. Using a management system like ClickUp can operate seamlessly within your budget – or without paying a single dime.

When every hour is accounted for in your day, you should have the tools to navigate your time to the best of your ability. Time management isn’t always an easy skill to master. From professional copywriters to other small business owners out there, here’s how we use ClickUp to manage our content production calendar.

Looking for additional strategies to improve productivity? Download our free guide, Easy-to-Implement Scalable SOP Framework.

What Is ClickUp? 

ClickUp is an all-in-one online project management tool that tracks your workload, follows the chain of work, and acts as a filing system. Furthermore, it has a ton of features that assist your daily responsibilities, like meeting notes, collaboration add-ons, organization tabs and folders, and so much more.

I know! It sounds like a lot, but we’ll break it down to show you how it’s helped us stay organized and efficient. 

What Is A Content Production Calendar?

Your business’s content production calendar should be a broad view of the ongoing and upcoming projects you have. You can also have a different calendar for different avenues of your business. For example, you may have one for client projects and another for marketing efforts.

It helps to divide your projects into labels like:

  • Active or open
  • Call made
  • Closing out
  • Closed
  • Onboarding
  • Complete
  • Due date

This way, everything you need to keep an eye on is on the calendar, and you know where it stands in the line of production. 

You can think of your content production calendar in ClickUp like a desktop calendar you might have in front of you. Instead of tearing off a new page at the beginning of the month, everything you need is digital. Another big benefit of using ClickUp’s online calendar is that you can view it as a list or in a digital planner, which is a huge plus for those who are more visual thinkers.

How We Manage Our Content Production Calendar With ClickUp

As you may guess, your content production calendar is your lifeline as it allows you to keep up with everything that’s going on around you. We use ClickUp’s content production calendar by using the Spaces section to divide our workload into work we do for clients and then for our own scalable growth.

Managing Client Work

Assigned work breaks down into individual labels for each one of our clients. Then it’s divided into various phases, depending on where we are on our timeline. From each phase, tasks are arranged based on due dates and named according to the correct project. All of this allows us to maintain a digital filing cabinet with everything we need, including meeting notes, calls, and anything else to help us as we write.

Tracking Brand Growth

Client work is its own category, which means the work we do to support our business is also its own section. Our marketing efforts divide up into particular sections like Email Marketing and Social Media. Each subsection is a virtual file that opens up to ongoing, upcoming, or completed tasks. Again, you can set due dates for each item so they appear on your visual calendar.  

Brain Dump Topic Ideas In One Place

Choose where you want to keep track of your ideas, notes, and meetings with anyone. So, instead of using 100,000 randomly placed post-it notes, you have everything stored where you will easily find it. Instead of a visual calendar, think of this feature as a digital notebook organized for you through ClickUp.

We keep a document in the same place as our topic reviews for each client to throw in new ideas and “dump” them into one place. These files are internal, so you won’t have anyone outside your organization see them…or your super scribbled notes. Feel free to throw in half-baked thoughts, tidbits of information, and random topic ideas whenever you need to. Using an online system prevents the information from being lost, while enhanced security keeps your notes between only you and whomever else you decide to share them with. 

When it’s time to review new or refreshed ideas, you can refer to your topic document and select from everything you’ve added over time. It will all still be as you left it, so you’re actively preparing for meetings beforehand and not scrambling to develop new ones on the spot.

Use Your Content Production Calendar To Balance Content Pillars & CTAs

You can also divide your tasks based on which type of content they cover, known as content pillars. Because scaling your business isn’t just about creating new content, it’s crucial for you to make varied, quality content.

As an example, if all you’re focusing on is producing 10 new blogs a month for a year, you’re limiting your potential. Other avenues of your marketing efforts are being ignored by not diversifying your content. Think of a few broad topics to create pillar pages on and use those to splinter into other channels like social media posts, blogs, lead magnets, and other material.

You want to focus on generating content that hits the following keys consistently:

  • Promote
  • Education or inform
  • Engage
  • Motivate or inspire

The idea of each piece? To get your audience to take action…any action! Whether you want them to buy, download, shop, or book an appointment, here is where you weave that action in.

We’re just going to leave this free download about Easy-to-Implement Scalable SOP Framework right here.

How Implementing Content Pillars Works

Own a bakery? You may have an entire web page generally covering wedding cakes. Then, you can splinter that content into so much more, answering questions like…How much does a wedding cake cost per serving? Or Why are wedding cakes so expensive? 

As the industry expert, you can answer these questions any way you like and prompt readers to take action like:

  • Book a wedding cake consultation
  • Download a free wedding cake flavor profile booklet
  • Reach out to our wedding bakery team for a custom order

The options are limitless, and it all starts with one solid idea.

Schedule Your Team Based On Availability

Finally, a visual content production calendar with clear-cut due dates and tracking for your employees. Through ClickUp, we use this feature to keep an eye on our schedules and view the workload of others. As a business owner, you can view the same information and adjust workloads accordingly.

Have an employee on vacation? What about extra time left on the schedule? 

Quickly shift assignments from one person to another, so nothing slips through the cracks. You can also make adjustments within each task to alter due dates and responsibilities and add notes just in case. Use helpful automation tools and content production calendar management software to keep projects going without missing deadlines. 

Keep Your Content Production Calendar On Track With FocusCopy

On top of using software like ClickUp, we also have other processes in place to streamline our writing process. Our goal is to deliver quality content to your inbox on time or before you expect it! Having so many organizational processes in place allows us to offer full-service copywriting to small businesses across the U.S. whenever you need it. So, wipe the sweat off your brow and leave your writing responsibilities to our team of professional writers

Before you go, explore more Easy-to-Implement Scalable SOP Framework tips and tricks right here!

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
content marketing tools

7 Content Marketing Tools To Reach Your Ideal Audience

You’ve spent hours of your life coming up with business and content ideas to get your brand out into the world. But how do you go about marketing your content so your target audience will actually see it?

This is where content marketing comes into play. Since content marketing has such a huge role in the success of your business, you better believe companies have created tools to get the job done. 

To help you establish your brand and get your message to the masses, I’m sharing the tools we use to manage our own content marketing. After all, how did you hear about FocusCopy in the first place?

Tools We Use To Manage Our Content Marketing

The best content creation in the world is mute without successful content marketing tools and strategies. So let the world see and hear about your business. 

PandaDoc Makes Tracking Proposals & Contracts A Breeze

When you’re creating content for a client, it’s typical to send for approval before hitting publish. PandaDoc simplifies that entire process. 

Whether you’re sending proposals, quotes, or contracts, PandaDoc helps to track documents and makes e-signing a breeze. Being able to save templates, and edit them as needed, means we can sign on new clients and make new deals seamlessly. 

With its certified signature page, you can rest assured that your contracts are official and binding. Plus, it makes e-signing a simple process, no matter where in the world you may be. 

Wondering how to use your own voice to get your brand out into the world? FocusCopy can help. Reach out today to learn how we can write copy in your voice and take the task off your plate.

HubSpot Keeps Client Management In One Place

The great thing about my favorite content marketing tools is how they work together!

For instance, HubSpot integrates with both PandaDoc and Google Workspace. It’s a one-stop-shop software for client management. 

Not only does it pull in the documents I create in PandaDoc, but it also tracks my Gmail communications with the clients. So rather than searching my email every time I need to reference notes, I can just log in to HubSpot!

In addition to having all client communication in one place, I can easily review all documentation and contracts in the same place, too. It’s a win-win for tracking client progress and having everything I need in one spot.

Moreover, clients and potential clients can schedule meetings through my HubSpot link. Because it connects to my Google Calendar, it acknowledges times when I’m busy and recognizes availability in my schedule. Another thing that I love, it ensures I have a 30-minute buffer between meetings. If you’ve ever found yourself with 9 hours of back-to-back meetings, you understand that those breaks are necessary!

ClickUp Helps Keep Tasks On Track

As your business grows, it will get more difficult to keep track of the to-do list in your mind. That’s why using a task management tool, like ClickUp, is so helpful. 

ClickUp allows you to customize the tracking phases of each task. Additionally, you can assign team members to different tasks and include all of a project’s documents in one easy-to-navigate location. With features such as time tracking, we know exactly how long it takes to complete each task. This allows me to analyze my team members’ strengths and know where they may need help in other areas. 

Like I mentioned above, I love how these tools work together. ClickUp connects to Google Workspace, which allows me to send emails via ClickUp.

Furthermore, we can create entire processes to meet our exact needs. For example, our clients who are on a retainer basis can upload documents directly to ClickUp. It keeps everything in one place and our productivity thriving. 

Not every business owner has the time to dedicate to writing copy. That’s where we can help. Contact FocusCopy today so you can get back to focusing on what’s most important. 

Google Workspace Elevates Collaboration

Google has come a long way from just being a search engine. Formerly named G Suite, Google Workspace makes creating, collaborating, communicating, and tracking documents simple.

Users can access the same documents in real-time, offer suggestions, leave comments, and even tag others in for review or questions. Additionally, Google Workspace can link to HubSpot and ClickUp.

Moreover, through Google Workspace, we can manage permissions allowing only who we want to have access to certain documents.

While Google Workspace offers so many services, it’s a safe bet that you can work with the basic package. It’s filled with familiar layouts that are easy to learn and use. So start small, and adjust as your needs grow.

Google Drive 

The days of saving everything directly to the computer are over. Google Drive is a cloud storage service that allows users to save and organize files and documents. It’s simple, secure, and accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. 

Google Calendar

The calendar that keeps my world in order! With its ability to link up to both HubSpot and ClickUp, I never miss a beat. Plus, team members can view each other’s availability making in-house meetings easy to schedule.

Google Meet

Everyone has been on Zoom at some point by now. But did you know if you already have Google Workspace, you don’t need to pay for Zoom or Slack for that matter? It has all the functions of Zoom, but it’s easier to use, and you likely already have access.

Google Chat

Very similar to Slack, but without the cost, Google Chat keeps the FocusCopy team in constant communication. We set up our Google Chat to be like Slack. Our favorite functions include private messaging, group threads for each client, and the ability to set up Google Meets immediately within the chat. 

Google Docs

There’s a good chance you are familiar with Microsoft Office, and if you are, you’ll realize quickly that Google Docs works just like Word. From the layout to the functionality, it’s a seamless transition. However, there is an added benefit of being able to send documents to clients for review. We typically set client permissions to comment only to make sure we get their feedback on deliverables without worrying about permanent changes being made accidentally.

WordPress

WordPress is by far the easiest content management system (CMS) on the market. While many startups like to use Wik and Squarespace, there is a huge benefit of using WordPress instead. For starters, you actually own your website and have the ability to switch hosts. With the competitors mentioned above, you risk losing your site if you miss a payment. 

Additionally, WordPress is known for its great blog posting function, which we obviously love. And there are millions of themes to allow users to customize their sites exactly how they want. 

Did I mention how user-friendly WordPress is? I’m no website developer, but I can navigate website development on WordPress with no issues. If Lauren the Copywriter can handle website devo on WordPress without calling the IT guy, so can you!

Elementor 

There are a ton of page buildings out there, including Divi, Beaver, Oxygen, and so many more. But Elementor is by far my favorite – plus, it works with WordPress! 

With Elementor, your website will look both custom and professional. Plus, you can make changes at the drop of a hat. After all, you need to update your website copy frequently to keep it relevant and effective. 

Another great part of Elementor is the community support. We’re considered experts in this community and field questions of other users pretty often. Sometimes, that human-to-human help and advice can make a world of difference. 

Yoast SEO

WordPress has made using plugins so easy that they work seamlessly together. The FocusCopy team uses the Yoast SEO plugin to ensure our content always meets the highest technical SEO standards. 

The world of SEO is constantly changing, and we want to make sure we’re keeping up with the latest updates. This is just one way we ensure our clients’ content is steadily climbing the Google ranking ladder. 

Let FocusCopy Manage Your Content Marketing For Real Results

Does running your business take up all of your time? We understand, and we can help.

For busy business owners like yourself, running the business and getting your message to your target audience are two separate jobs. We help people just like you by creating copy in your voice to help establish and grow your brand. Ready to see growth while reaching your ideal customers? Contact FocusCopy today to get started.

Focus Your Copy On Conversation & Conversion

Let’s Grab A Virtual Coffee With Us To Discover How To Boost Your Words
Copy Toolkit

What You Need In Your Copy Toolkit To Write Effective Copy

If there is a process, an automation, or an easier way of doing something, then people will do it. Why? Because people naturally do not want to do more work than is required. 

Makes sense. 

Copywriting isn’t an easy task – even for us professionals. 

It requires creativity, effort, strategy, and time. 

That’s why many companies either hire a copywriting team like FocusCopy or avoid writing any copy at all. If it’s the latter, then they are usually so consumed in their business because they need to speak every word of copy. That also usually indicates that they are not able to grow their business beyond a certain point. 

Thankfully, there are a couple of tools that speed up the process (even by a couple of minutes). Before we get into the copywriting tools we use, what’s the copywriting process without any aids? 

What The Copywriting Process Is Like Without Tools

Without copywriting aids, this is what a general copywriting process looks like:

  • At least 1-2 hours of meetings per deliverable to capture knowledge and brand voice
  • High potential for writer’s block because staring at a blank page is the worst thing you can do for copywriting
  • At least 30 minutes of research for copy deliverable
  • Multiple rounds of revisions from the approver (whether that’s you or someone else)

Depending on what you’re writing and how quick you are at reviewing, the review alone can take 1-2 hours (if you stay focused).

However, once you implement a process that works and use the tools that you know can help, you’re on the right path to great copy.

It may sound more complicated than it really is.

And you may be asking, “where do I even find those tools?”

The good news is that we’ve (pretty much) tried them all over the years, and we have our favorites right here.

Tools You Need In Your Copy Toolkit To Write Effective Copy

As professional copywriters, we want to share what we have in our copy toolkit to write effective copy. 

Hemingway App

This is not your basic Microsoft Word spell check. The Hemingway App does so much more and makes it easy for you to follow along while writing and editing your work.

If you’ve ever struggled to read through and fix items in your own writing, know that you aren’t alone. In fact, we have our own internal process to ensure we’re viewing each piece with fresh eyes before hitting “Send.”

The Hemingway App helps by going through your writing and highlighting issues such as:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Complex sentence structure
  • Passive voice and more

You can get the Hemingway Online Editor for free OR buy the Hemingway App for a one-time purchase of $19.99.

Yoast SEO

Copy Toolkit

Writing tools are great. But there’s more to creating good content than spell check apps. Yoast SEO is a search engine optimization plugin that works with WordPress. With an estimated 64 million websites using WordPress, chances are Yoast SEO could benefit you, too. 

Using Yoast SEO helps your website show up to the audience base you really want. And it can get more viewers from Bing and Google than you would have otherwise. Also, it can help increase engagement with your audience and get more visitors from social media platforms.

There are a ton of free courses available for you to learn SEO and so much more. Yoast SEO offers a free and paid version of its services for businesses and websites of all sizes.

WordHippo

Copy Toolkit

Have you ever had a hard time coming up with a word or phrase for something you know is at the tip of your tongue? Maybe you didn’t have your morning cup of joe like you usually do. You might have even skipped out on your routine yoga session and now your whole day is thrown off. 

These scenarios make WordHippo the perfect pal to have when your brain is feeling a little on the foggy side. The best part about it? You can work off fragments of a thought, plug it in, and see what comes up. Usually, it knows where your thought process is heading and can fill in the gaps when you’re not so sure.

WordHippo is one of the best online applications to help you find the right word or phrase you’re searching for. But it’s also good for creative writing and has other useful tools, including:

  • A thesaurus
  • Translations
  • Rhymes
  • Definitions
  • Antonyms
  • Synonyms 
  • And more!

Discover more and greater words here. 

Google Docs

A tried and true classic, Google Docs comes with its own toolkit for spelling and grammar checks. It highlights and catches basic mistakes you might make as you write. This can help you clean up your writing, make it more clear, and easier to follow.

In addition, gone are the days of emailing warped or incorrect docs back and forth. You can also bid adieu to crashed servers and lost files. Google docs is a fantastic way to draft and share your docs as needed without all of the confusion. And since it lives in the cloud, it auto saves your work as you go. Features like link sharing, viewing edit history, and comments ensure your team is working in sync every step of the way.

Brand Voice Guide

When you know you need to get going on your website copy but don’t know where to start, we have just the thing.

Consider creating a Brand Voice Guide that defines the exact voice, tone, and messaging your business needs. Here’s the truth… If you have no idea how your business should sound or who it needs to speak to, you’ll never have quality copy that gets customers to your front door.

A Brand Voice Guide (which you can create yourself) is the key to producing future copy that gets others excited about what you do and why you do it. 

And hey! If you don’t have the time or don’t feel comfortable writing your own Brand Voice Guide, we get it! As a business owner or manager, you have a million other things going on and you simply don’t have anything else to give to your company’s writing. Call in the experts with the creative know-how, and we’ll get one started for you.

Other Tools

We know we didn’t list all of the tools out there to help sharpen up your copywriting skills. These are the ones we find most helpful, but we’re aware that everyone has their own style and flair for writing. Feel free to comment below ones that we should consider or others who are writing should consider.

Have a writing to-do list you need taken care of? Contact us for more information about writing for your business.

When Was The Last Time You Updated Your Home Page?

Answer these 6 questions and spruce up your home page in 15 minutes (or less).

Stages of SOP Development: A Guide from 40,000 Feet

Business owners: have you ever thought about what will happen if you unexpectedly passed away? 

What would happen to your business?

If you don’t have any assets, then all the value is in your business processes. 

Does your company have standard operating procedures in place? In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed why all businesses…

In short, SOPs facilitate quality control and productivity that will save your business time and money in the long run. 

As your business evolves overtime, its SOPs should too. Let’s walk through the different stages of SOP development, so you can continue to improve your operations as your business grows and changes.

Different Stages of SOP Development

To think about the different stages of SOP development, consider your company from a 40,000’ viewpoint. In other words, consider SOPs on both micro and macro scales of your company, ranging from hourly procedures to the big picture.

Let’s start from the ground up! 

10 Feet – Highly Detailed Processes (Daily, Hourly, Minute-by-Minute)

When your business is new or relatively small, you as the business owner typically know all of the operations and procedures – those performed daily, hourly, or even minute-by-minute. This means that you can probably write very detailed and precise SOPs. 

These SOPS do not involve any strategy. It’s simply a how to get this one task done the right way. 

100 Feet – Operation Processes

As the business grows, you’ll hire new staff and add new business areas. As a result, you’ll have to learn how to juggle a lot more than you were before. You’ll have to expand your view from 10’ to 100’ – working at an even higher altitude to oversee business operations across your business.  

So what does this change in altitude entail? 

It requires the development of operational processes. This is critical since at this level, some of the operational details you were formerly able to describe step-by-step start to become less precise. As a result, you’ll have to rely on your management team to drive development and compliance with SOPs pertinent to their areas of responsibility.

1,000 Feet – Business Management

As it grows further and leadership visibility escalates to even higher levels, you need to establish business management SOPs. These SOPs define how the different branches within the business operate, support each other, and drive business growth. Without them, silos can form between departments resulting in major inefficiencies and stunting of development. 

Visibility of business processes is key for you and all other business leaders – you should be able to have a complete and accurate view of all activity. Typically, not all employees of the company need this level of visibility. Rather, many businesses rely on their mid-level and senior managers to know how the business works and report to the leadership.

40,000 Feet – Vision and Leadership

Finally, a critical step in the stages of SOP development comes from the 40,000’ view – with vision and leadership. If leadership teams don’t all have the same business process visibility, this can lead to a broken organization if a key business leader leaves the company — especially when this leave is unexpected.

For example, suppose a business leader on your team has been the recipient of all management reports your mid-level and senior managers produced. This person knows…

  • What processes work
  • Where gaps exist that aren’t necessarily always explicitly reported on
  • What your team needs to do to correct business operations

This leader has knowledge of how the different parts of the business must interact to provide the results you and the rest of the leadership team are looking for. 

This is incredibly valuable information. As a result of their unique knowledge, this business leader is in the perfect and only position to define what SOPs are needed.

Now, this doesn’t mean this leader on your team must develop the SOPs themselves. It simply means that the leader should oversee the development and integration of SOPs, so that their knowledge isn’t suddenly lost if they leave the company. They can do this by creating and articulating the strategies that their management team must adopt.  

Ensure that key knowledge from individuals in leadership is regularly translated into development and integration of SOPs. This will support the wellbeing of the company in the long run.

If you’re the owner of the company, you need to download your brain and document your processes, vision, and strategy. What happens if something happened to you to incapacitate you from working? The company wouldn’t know where you were heading. 

An Example of SOP Stage Implementation

Now you have a handle on the different stages of SOP development. Let’s move onto an illustrative example of SOP stage implementation by thinking about a clock-making business.

Stage 1: Business Leaders Create Detailed SOPs

Stages of SOP

When the business owner of this clock-making company decided to create their business, they probably spent years learning clock-making skills, attending courses, going to workshops, etc. He or she knew how to make the style of clock they wanted to make. They controlled everything in the process…

  • Materials and parts procurement 
  • Manufacturing
  • Packaging the clock for the customer
  • Shipping and billing 

They could have written SOPs for all of these areas.

Stage 2: Managers Create SOPs For Their Respective Branches

Moving on a few years… Their business now sells several types of clocks and watches. Their initial business that made only one or two things now has a dozen or more products. They also need… 

  • Marketing to promote their products
  • HR to support their employees
  • Sales to sell to new customers 
  • Development to design new products 

At this stage, the business owner shouldn’t be responsible for developing all of the SOPs for each new branch of the company. This would be too complex, and it’s not an effective use of their time. Instead, leadership should direct unit managers to develop fine-grained SOPs for their respective branches.

Stage 3: Business Leaders Oversee SOP Creation & Integration

Finally, business leaders of this largely grown clock-making company must oversee the development and integration of SOPs. Importantly, they should approach it with an effective strategy.

What does an effective strategy for overseeing this process entail? 

Well, it should ensure that the SOPs support the business leader’s vision of how the business should operate now and how it will grow in the next 5+ years. 

This is the 40,000’ view of standard operating procedures. At this stage, SOPs drive how the business operates. Lower-altitude SOPs define in increasing detail how annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily, and perhaps even minute-by-minute operations are executed.

When the 40,000’ vision for SOPs is realized, the business leader can focus on what they need to… Future direction, strategy, and growth. 

When SOPs are in place, business leaders can spend less time worrying if standard business operations are working as expected. If anything is diverted off-track, they will get an early alert so they can drive the necessary changes to get it back on track.

How Much Time Does SOP Implementation & Development Take?

Many business leaders worry about how much time it will take to implement SOPs. Although they are beneficial for the company in the long-term, there are often pressing matters to attend to in the short-term. 

So how much time does SOP implementation and development really take? 

The truth is, it depends. No one can predict with 100% accuracy how much time it will take. It depends on many interrelated factors. 

But what I will say is that it will take you far less time to complete than just thinking about how long it will take to complete! And the time and money your company will save by having proper SOPs in place will be well worth it. 

If you’re looking for help expediting the process, FocusCopy can help.

What SOPs Do You Need?

We’ve talked about the stages of SOP development, but what SOPs does your company actually need? 

The key is to think about what kinds of SOPs are needed to run your business operations, how they should interact, and what is needed to better support your business. 

However, you shouldn’t spend time considering the contents of each SOP. Trying to consider all SOPs from the ground up to 40,000’ can be extremely timely and stressful for you to do from your current position. Not to mention… You could be spending your time envisioning and growing your business’ future instead of sorting through business operations minutiae. 

Instead, direct the responsibility to the unit management operating that specific part of your business. Or outsource your SOP documentation to professionals. Did you know that FocusCopy writes processes for small to medium sized businesses? You know the processes. We know how to write them. Learn more about how we work with businesses like you.

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How to Write Standard Operating Procedures

Even the title sounds scary, doesn’t it? “How to Write Standard Operating Procedures“.

For most organizations, thinking about it is scarier than doing it. 

Yes, there are libraries, lots of books, and web documents telling you how difficult it is, how complex business process development, and documentation is. 

But does it have to be?

If you are a large company or enterprise in a highly regulated industry (i.e. healthcare, nuclear energy, financial services), the answer is probably yes

But for the rest of the world, it’s a definitive NO. It isn’t that difficult.

Why Writing Standard Operating Procedures May Be Complex

Think about it. Your business is running fine today… Everybody knows what they should be doing, how, and when to do it. So, why do you need to document your business processes?

The answer is both simple and complicated.

Simple Answer

What would you do if Fred (the only guy who knows how to operate the vital-to-your-business thingamajig machine in the corner), suddenly, without warning, has a heart attack, or a severe car accident, or a stroke, and can’t talk or work for a while… 

Now what? 

How would your business survive?

Can you afford the downtime while someone else picks up his skills?

Complex Answer

Where on earth do you start? What process should we begin with?

So, you know the simple answer intuitively. You’ve got to write the processes down – right?

You probably know the complex answer too, you may not know you do, but you probably do. It’s really pretty simple.

How to Write Standard Operating Procedures 

Let’s look at how to write standard operating procedures (SOPS). Start by writing down all the operations your business depending on the following:

  • Manufacturing
  • Purchasing
  • Billing
  • HR

Order this list from most critical to your business to you needs-to-be-done. You could have a couple of categories in the middle (i.e. important, legal needs if appropriate).

1. List Critical Business Functions

How to Write Standard Operating Procedures

Now, starting with the critical business functions like manufacturing. Then think about what makes it critical… Is it the machinery you use, the skills of your employees, the materials, what is it? 

Write them down in a prioritized list from most important to least important. 

Take another look at this list… Is there anything that jumps out because it depends on ONE thing? That may be a particular employee, a required skill, or a technology.

Now focus in on what you need to document as a procedure first. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about an employee, required skills, or technology. Whatever it is, there is ALWAYS a process associated with it, and that needs to be documented.

But how do you do this? 

You may not think you know how to do it, but I guarantee that you do! 

How can I guarantee this? Because you and your business use it every day. If you didn’t, it wouldn’t be critical to your business.

2. Find the Bones of the Procedure

Hold up a minute. How does this help me write my processes and procedures? Simple! Just use your mouth, eyes, and ears and watch how someone (your critical person) does their particular job. What they are doing…? Why they are doing it that way…? And how they are doing it…?

And then write it down, step-by step-by step. Maybe even video it so you have a frame by frame record. If something fails or doesn’t work as they wanted while you are watching, listening, and asking questions, then ask them why that happened and record everything they do as they get back on track. Ask them what can go wrong and why it sometimes goes wrong.

At the end of this, you’ll have lots and lots of notes. They probably won’t look much like a polished procedure, but they contain the “bones” of the procedure. Now, all you must do is assemble the “skeleton”.

3. Assemble the ‘Skeleton’ or ‘Framework’

This is where procedure documentation really starts. You need to take the notes you collected, and figure out which notes are really the big bones in the project.

What are the connectors that link these big bones together? And of course, what order they all fit together in to get from the start (point A) to the finished component (point B)?

Now you have the basis of a process. It’s probably still rough, perhaps even ugly. It may have a few minor steps missing or issues to fix, but in general, it could operate as a procedure.

Now for the fun: adding the skin, smoothing, and polishing your standard operating procedures so it works each and every time.

We’ve put together an Easy-To-Implement Scalable Framework that you can now access for free! Click here to access the exact system we use to develop SOPs.

4. Process Smoothing and Polishing

But before we get to this, you must smooth out the rough elements and add “skin” to cover the skeleton. If you have ever tried, or even thought about, running your hands over a human skeleton, you would find there are holes, gaps, or areas of nothing between the bones. It’s likely to be the same with your process skeleton.

Before you cover your skeleton with skin to make it look complete, you need to work on the process wording to eliminate any gaps.

Process Wording

Work with the critical-to-your-business person, and ask them to use your process exactly – unless the step will injure them or anyone else. 

For example, you’ve written a process to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They must recreate the end result (i.e. the sandwich) using your exact process and not deviating from it just because they created the sandwich.

This is how you find the minor and sometimes major issues in what you’ve documented. If there are issues, then work with your critical-to-your-business person to fix them.

Repeat this review and update the cycle at least ten times after you fixed the last issue. By the time this is complete, you’ll find your skeleton has acquired a skin, it looks good and the process runs smoothly, every time,  without flaw.

Next Steps In Writing SOPs

You just documented your first procedure…

Was it difficult? Probably nowhere near as bad as you thought!

Did it take time? Of course, possibly more time than you thought.

Ready to do this next one? Sure, no problem.

So, go back to your list of procedures you need and start knocking them out!

Outsourcing Writing SOPs

First… Have you thought about how much time that took? What couldn’t you do when writing these procedures? Was it an effective use of your time and skills? Is it something you want to keep doing?

If the answer to these questions is giving you concern, perhaps you should think about outsourcing development of these procedures. 

FocusCopy is well-experienced in developing processes and procedures in industry-specific language far more quickly and error-free than most people working in your industry. Writing is our skill and industry. That’s what we live for. Is it yours? If not, perhaps outsourcing this writing is the way to go.

Want to give writing SOPs a try? Click here to access our free Easy-To-Implement Scalable SOP Framework. We use this exact system to write company processes for ourselves and our clients.

Writing Tough SOPs

Yes, there are procedures that are really difficult to write. Usually, this is because they are associated or required to comply with a government or state regulation.

The difficulty is not in the language. It’s difficult because  you must dot all the i’s and cross the t’s to comply with every nuance of the regulation. Not doing this can be expensive for your organization.

Organizations typically have most difficulty with procedures involve the following:

  • HR
  • Health (HIPAA)
  • Information Security / Privacy
  • Finance

Organizations can develop SOPs in these areas, but many choose to use their internal skills to run their business and outsource development to specialists who have written similar procedures for other companies.

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Developing Standard Operating Procedures from Scratch

Developing Standard Operating Procedures from Scratch

Anyone who has worked for the military or other regulated industry already knows what a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is. But many business leaders, to their disadvantage, do not apply SOPS to their business and may not know how to start developing standard operating procedures from scratch. As a result, business often run into issues like…

  • Quality control
  • Lack of process
  • Decreased productivity

If you’re anything like us, then you see dollars flying out of the bank. Today is the day to start taking control of your business by developing standard operating procedures.

Using Standard Operating Procedures In Your Business

Before we get started… What is an SOP? It’s a “set of written guidelines or instructions for the completion of a routine task, designed to increase performance, improve efficiency, and ensure quality through systemic homogenization” (Britannica). The original of standard operating procedures stems from one of the most organized organizations – the military. Everything they do is intentional and yields the results they want. 

How Business and Military Operations Compare

You may be thinking… “But I’m not the military”. That may be true. But if you want to yield the same results over and over again, then it may be time to implement SOPs in your business. As we evaluate how business and military operations compare, let’s look at 2 different businesses.

The first business is a successful thriving long-term business. They have a combination of highly motivated, dedicated people and a collection of procedures that they execute flawlessly.

Conversely, the second business is more focused on short term goals. It is often characterized as a combination of highly motivated and enthusiastic people who do the stuff the business needs to survive and (hopefully) grow.

For this example, pick one of the above business examples that you currently operate as. Be honest with yourself.

So how do these operations compare? There are several similarities and differences between these 2 businesses…

  1. They both depend on highly skilled/motivated/dedicated/enthusiastic people.
  2. The short-term business does ‘stuff’ – usually undocumented and therefore dependent on retention of key staff.
  3. The thriving long-term business thrives despite changes in staff over the years because it uses SOPs and is less dependent on, and in many cases completely independent of the know-how of certain staff. They can train staff with specialized knowledge – it’s already documented.

While it will depend on the business, most companies should be more long-term focuses – and thus use SOPs.

Becoming More Long-Term Focused

 By becoming more long-term focused, you are able to accomplish incredible things. Think about how the military can recruit an untrained civilian and train them to become a highly specialized weapons person, a navigator, an intelligence officer, a linguist, or even a mechanic (among many other roles). They start from a basic assumption that the recruit has no knowledge of what each of these operatives do. Even more important, when trained, each operative will perform their function exactly as expected.

The military can do this because their function is based on a set of guiding principles / policies and a set of Standard Operating Procedures that dictate how all parts of the military operate.

Ever heard the phrase hire for traits, not talent? SOPs help you hire for traits and train them on the job in an efficient manner. 

A Few Exceptions to the Rule

Now, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule that every company should operate their entire business with SOPs.

If your company relies on employees innovating and growing (much like an entrepreneur), then SOPs will most likely suffocate those employees (i.e. graphic designer, product engineer, etc.). It will be burdensome and may suck their creativity out of them. 

However, these roles should have their own lax SOP – what we like to call swipe files or best practices. They act as informal templates or guidelines for them as an individual or as a group.

BUT if your employees are doing repetitive work, then you need to implement a SOP (especially if you are wanting to grow the business / role). Product engineers have a process or procedure for coming up with a new product – ideation, sketching, producing a prototype, testing, feedback, etc. Graphic designers create style guides then use those guides to create deliverables for a specific client. Whatever the role is in an organization, there are processes and procedures that can be and should be documented.

Quality Management with SOPs

Another use for SOPs is to use them for quality management. This use is something we find critical when producing copy for our clients.The term quality is an often misused hyperbole when applied to businesses and their operations. Business often talk about quality customer (i.e. high spending customers) and quality products (i.e. customers love them, they result in few returns, and typically don’t have customer satisfaction issues). Businesses rarely talk about quality processes. Yet, if their operational processes or procedures are not solidly defined and followed, they are unlikely to result in quality products or operations… This will limit customer trust and reduce investor confidence.

Quality Operational Procedures

Quality operational procedures are SOPs because SOPs are designed to support business operations by precisely defining how something must be done under all circumstances with nothing left to chance or misinterpretation

In exactly the same way that you know your fridge is keeping your ice cream frozen because the fridge uses physical principles that never change and has been consistently manufactured to use these principles over many years of your ownership, you expect your business to operate in the same way over and over again.

SOPs define how this is done and will always be done, until your business decides to change the SOP. SOPs drive quality throughout your organization from first concept to delivery of customer products and services.

The Top 2 Problems That Most SOPs Run Into

Like most business practices, developing standard operating procedures have their own road bumps. Generally, SOPs suffer from two issues:

  1. They are time-consuming (and can seem difficult) to write.
  2. Some employees think they can perform a task more quickly, more efficiently, or better than they do when using the SOP, so they don’t use it. 

1. Time-Consuming To Write

This issue is easy to explain. Many businesses do not have staff onboard with enough attention to detail or desire to write SOPs. Some staff often consider development of SOPs as boring or unnecessary. In fact, the opposite is true. SOPs are essential for many business operations and the details they must contain to be truly usable can be intense.

If you need help creating your standard operating procedures from scratch, we are standing by to discuss your needs. Click here to learn more about what our process is.

2. Employees Bypass SOPs

Unfortunately, the net result of employees bypassing SOPs is that something else may not work as expected elsewhere in the organization. This issue is more difficult to explain because it is often the result of employee pride in what they do and not mistakes in what they do. 

When an employee performs a task in a different way to that defined in the SOP, it may result in a slightly different result that they do not notice. For example, it could result in a data point or something being reported differently than expected by a later procedure or procedures. Either or both results could lead to customer satisfaction issues and customer-perceived decline in deliverable quality by the business. Such issues affect the reputation and trustworthiness of the business and affects its sales, revenue, and profitability. 

Developing Standard Operating Procedures from Scratch

When you are developing standard operating procedures from scratch, it’s important to note what needs to be included.

The 6 Sections To Include When Developing Standard Operating Procedures

Anyone who has worked for the military or other regulated industry already knows what a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is. But many business leaders, to their disadvantage, do not apply SOPS to their business and may not know how to start developing standard operating procedures from scratch. As a result, business often run into issues like…

  • Quality control
  • Lack of process
  • Decreased productivity

There are 6 sections you need to include when developing standard operating procedure…

  1. Scope and purpose
  2. Compliance
  3. Process steps
  4. Success criteria
  5. Exit criteria
  6. Document history

1. Scope and Purpose

You must precisely define and document the Scope and Purpose. If they are not, then the SOP will be too large and wide ranging for any employee to follow.

2. Compliance

Compliance with the steps defined in the SOP must be mandatory unless compliance with a given step will result in injury or worse. Test and retest every step ensure such conditions do not happen.

3. Process Steps

Document process steps for every action needed. Additionally, document where errors could occur, detail what these errors are, and what should be done to recover from them.

4. Success Criteria

Provide Success Criteria definitions for each series of steps in the SOP. This enables continual quality checks are being made throughout execution of the SOP.

5. Exit Criteria

SOP Exit Criteria defines what conditions exist on completion of the SOP and what happens next.

6. Document History

Although often not visible to SOP users, this section maintains a detailed record about why the document was needed, who created/updated it, what changes were made, and who approved those changes.

SOP Content Creation and Management

Creating your SOPs and managing them after the initial development does not have to be difficult. It could be as easy as the following…

First, create a Standard Operating Document. This is like the brain to your processes and procedures. It will contain links to your other documents for specific SOPs. You need to include different sections in this document, including the following: 

  • Strategic Objective
  • General Operating Principles (what it takes to run the company)
  • Discussions (your important meetings to refer back to)
  • Important Docs (think style guides, customer avatars, privacy policy, and anything that needs to be accessible)
  • SOPs
Developing Standard Operating Procedures
Example of Standard Operating Document

Then create the 3 following folders:

  1. Important Documents
  2. Standard Operating Procedures
  3. Drafts

Each document in those folders should be on a specific topic and then linked back into the Standard Operating Document. 

When you set up the system, you’re half-way done. Now, you need to apply the 6 sections I previously listed in each SOP. If you want to access our process and templates for building your SOPs in Google Drive, then click here and we’ll send you our Easy-to-Implement Scalable SOP Framework.

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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

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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.

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