As a business owner, you’ve been told to work on your business, not in it. You know processes will help you put this invaluable advice into action, but how do you create the right processes? How do you know your processes are going to benefit your business instead of add one more task to your plate?
Many business owners struggle with this. Let’s dive in and take an in-depth look at how you can design strong processes to help your online business scale successfully.
What a Good Process Looks Like
Before you can offload your processes, you need to understand what a good process looks like. What’s going to make things easier for you and the person who you’re assigning the process to?
Here are a few tips to help:
- Make sure you’ve gone through the process yourself.
- Don’t overcomplicate the process; keep it short.
- Keep it simple and clear.
- Use screenshots and visuals to clarify the process further.
- Explain why the process is there as much as how to do the process.
- Focus on what to do instead of what not to do.
- Define what the completed process looks like.
With these tips in mind, you’re ready to start creating your processes.
Create Your Processes
If you’ve never created a process in your business, this guide will get you started on the right path. And if you’ve tried creating processes but never had success getting tasks off your plate, use guide to refine your processes.
Step #1: Set up your toolbox.
There’s an app for just about everything these days. From creating content to keeping a pulse on your team’s progress, there are tools to help.
Before you can create a process using these tools, you need to decide what tools you want to have in your toolbox. Using too many tools could bog you down. Using too few could create more work for you than necessary.
Here are some of the tools we use in our processes at ProduceDept:
- Google Apps: This is the simplest and best tool for creating and organizing content.
- ScreenFlow: I use this one daily — great for recording processes and clarifying expectations.
- Clarify: We use this to grab screenshots and create really concise, easy-to-follow instruction guides for each process.
- Asana: From assigning new projects to tracking completion of tasks, we use Asana to stay organized and efficient.
- Zapier: Let’s face it. There are a lot of apps you use in your organization. Zapier connects everything from your email marketing to your project management tool so everything is automated and out of your way.
You probably already have a few of these (or similar) apps you’re using in your agency. Still, it’s worth taking a second look to make sure you have what you need before trying to create manual processes you could automate instead.
Step #2: Do the task and jot down detailed notes.
Before you write your instruction guide, you need to have a deep understanding of how the process works. To get this insight, go through the task yourself and take detailed notes throughout. Make lists, format your text, and break down every action or decision, regardless of how small it might seem.
Note: If you work with people who aren’t native English speakers, this process is even more important to keep clear and concise.
Step #3: Have someone else on your team do the same.
When you’re done, give your notes and detailed process outline to a team member. Ask her to perform the task and see how she does. Are there any stumbling points? Anything she misinterpreted from your process outline?
Encourage her to ask questions and make comments. Chances are, if someone who’s already in the trenches of your agency is unsure about something, someone else will be too.
Step #4: Have someone new to your business try the process too.
You’ve refined your process using the feedback from at least one other person in your company, but is it ready for a complete newbie to understand? Give it a try with someone new to your agency. Hand it off to this new team member (or someone who doesn’t work with this specific task) and ask him to complete it. Watch how he does it. Is he efficient? Does he run into any stumbling blocks?
Track all questions this new person has about the process and use those to further refine the instructions.
Step #5: Pinpoint areas where you can automate.
Once you’re happy with the process, it’s time to dig in and find ways to put your tools to work for you. This is where Zapier comes in especially handy for us. It connects tools automatically, eliminating the human component.
Step #6: Assign team members ownership of each item.
With your completed process in hand, it’s time to assign ownership of it to a team member. This person will be in charge of completing the job as well as keeping the process updated. The person must modify the process as roles, tools, or other items change. This way, it doesn’t fall back in your lap, forcing you to start from scratch.
Creating processes is one of the easiest ways to keep your online business running efficiently. Take the time to set these up now and save yourself hours of time as your business scales up.