There is a laundry list of “most important things to do when starting your business,” and from expert to expert, the top spot changes frequently. One constant on the list, though, is how to properly complete any and all tasks, and having defined, digestible, and well-thought-out operating procedures can ensure that whomever joins your team will know the desired way to complete a given task, and will also provide your team something to reference when questions are asked that have conflicting answers.
Though this list should continue to grow as your company does, here are 6 procedures (often referred to as Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs) every start-up company should have in place when building their brand and adding members (or, more importantly, investors) to the team.
A surefire way to lose an employee is by making them feel like they were wronged after they make a mistake. Even if you only have two employees, creating a standard operating procedure for how issues among colleagues should be resolved provides reference as to why a given conflict was resolved in a given manner.
Dealing With Customer Dissatisfaction
The customer is always right… unless they aren’t. Creating SOPs can help your team understand when its time to simply say “I’m sorry sir/ma’am, but we are unable to meet the needs of your request.” Hopefully those scenarios are few and far between, but having SOPs relating to customer service is a must, especially for any team with multiple client-facing members. Even the smallest customer interactions should have SOPs written so your team can reference them when leadership may be unavailable.
Green companies are continuing to gain popularity, and in many cases, have become staples by which formerly non-green companies have been creating procedures to make their company more sustainable. Even business owners who scoff at green practices should know that investors do not, and providing an SOP relative to in-office sustainability could be a difference maker in a world where even the most wasteful countries on the planet are making zero-emission promises.
Business Spending and Reimbursement
If your company is planning on sending people abroad to do work, having a spend and reimbursement SOP is essential from both the standpoints of the traveler knowing processes, and the accounting team knowing what was and what was not a business expense. These should be created in great detail, or employees will tend to “err” on the side of the company paying for things that you (or the accounting team) may not have wanted them to.
Another SOP that is important to any company with employees is creating time-off requests, and limitations to these requests. Most contracts define how many days off a given individual is granted, as far as paid, but situations arise that could cause these employees to ask for additional days. Maternity is an easy example to use, and ensuring that any and all types of time-off requests are standardized is paramount.
Generally, these processes are similar to time-off requests, but having an SOP in place so even your first employees know the preferred means of discussing issues and capabilities as they relate to a given person allows your team members to be more confident when they have issues, knowing that you have already thought about providing them ways of voicing their concerns.
Your SOP list should continue growing, and each new endeavor will bring with it new processes that need to be defined. Making these SOPs readily available to both internal and external colleagues ensures transparency and fast resolution when anyone has a question about a given process.