I say it a lot. One of the most valuable things you can do for your business is document your processes.
It will be hard to see the value in it while you’re a one person gig. But if you want to bring on employees you shouldn’t think twice about documenting what you do BEFORE you hire your first person.
I’ll list some reasons why…
- It makes training employees easier
- It makes it easier to delegate tasks
- It ensures that the way you do things doesn’t change
- You’ll wish you had if you don’t
I’m willing to bet though that the idea of writing everything down seems too hard at the moment.
Well guess what? It’s never going to get easier! The longer you leave it, the more that you find you’ll have to write and the more difficult it will be for you.
I’m also willing to bet that you’ll be thinking that you’ll hire someone, teach them and then get them to write the procedures. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose though? You’ll be making it harder to train them and is writing procedures really what you want to be paying them for?
Or maybe you’re thinking that once you hire someone you’ll have the time to write them yourself. Really? Let’s be honest here. Without the procedures written first you’ll be fielding questions from them and helping them out more than you’ll realise. And lets not forget that you’ll have extra tasks yourself as you’ll be responsible for an employee now.
This means it’s time to stop avoiding it and it’s time to start getting them written.
So let’s start at the beginning with how to get them documented and let’s keep the how of it simple.
Begin by naming one task that you would like to handover to someone else. In your mind, start at the beginning and start to list all of the steps that you need to take to do it. Don’t over think it or over describe it just yet, just jot them down.
Once you have your list, keep it with you the next time you do the task. Pretend that you’re doing it for the first time and use the list to work through what you do. Did you get everything? Would someone that has never done it before be able to follow it? Add anything that you missed.
Now you can write it. And as you write it you need to make it more detailed than a list and add the extra bits that make the list make more sense. Maybe you need to add some pictures to explain it. Maybe you need to include a diagram or a flowchart. The description doesn’t need to be all words but it needs to be more than just a list.
Then comes the fun part – the formatting! A procedure needs to be more than just words on paper. You want your employees to read what you’ve written. You want them to refer to it when they’re learning or stuck. They’re not going to if reading what you have written is more work than just figuring it out themselves! Be sure to include headings. Break out the steps to make them clear. Include names and references where needed. Use bold and italics if something needs to stand out. Number your diagrams and pictures and refer to them, especially if you have a lot of them.
Does that seem more doable now? Don’t over think it. Stop putting it off. Just do it! And once you’ve written that one, don’t stop there and start working on the next one…
If you really, really don’t want to, then schedule a time with me. Unlike you, I really enjoy writing procedures! I love seeing them come to life on a page, a bit like writing a story. I promise that I can extract the information that I need from you and get what you need documented. I’m sure you find it easy to say what you do and can find the time for that. It’s a lot less stress to get me to do it!
Whichever path you take though – writing them yourself or getting me to write them – do yourself and your business a favour and STOP AVOIDING IT!