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49: SOPs for Creatives: Boosting Productivity and Consistency in Your Business

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This transcript has been automatically generated.


Today I'm sharing something with you that I put off for way too long in my business. I thought it was more difficult than it really is, and as soon as I began doing it, I completely got hooked. It has been the number one driving factor in our growth, and I can't wait to share it with you. Are you ready to dive in?

I'm Bonnie Christine, and this is where all things, creativity, design, business, and marketing unite. I'm a mama living in a tiny town, tucked right inside the Smokey Mountains, running a multi seven figure business, doing the most creative and impactful work of my life. When I first set out to become an entrepreneur, I was struggling to make ends meet and wrestling with how to accomplish my biggest dream of becoming a fabric designer.

Fast forward to today, I'm not only licensing my artwork all over the world, but also teaching others how to design their creative life and experience the same success. I'm here to help you spend your life doing something that lights you up. I'll help you build a creative business that also creates an impact, changes people's lives, gives you all of the freedom you want and is wildly profitable.

Welcome to the Professional Creative Podcast. The topic that we're covering today is something called our SOPs. So we call them SOPs. So P stands for Standard operating Procedures. Now, I don't know how you feel about that. It sounds very maybe corporate to me, but SOPs for short is something that we all use and love, but you could name these whatever you want.

Basically, they're tiny trainings on everything that gets done in your entire business, and they are a game changer. So in this episode, I'm gonna tell you more about what they are, why they're important, how to actually do them, where to store them, and give you 10 examples of SOPs. In my business as it sits today, SOPs are the very first way that you can begin to get help in your business.

And so this is absolutely relevant for you if you are still just a one prison show, like a solopreneur, or if maybe you have one person that helps you from time to time like a VA or a friend, or even a mom who comes in to help you package and label your packages or something like that. It's also absolutely relevant for you if you have a team, and it will be essential as you begin to grow and scale your business. So like I mentioned, an S O P is a step-by-step instruction manual for every routine task that gets done in your business, and it represents the most effective way in order to do it or how you prefer it to be done. These SOPs are your ticket out of doing every single thing in your business.

It's a way to maintain that high level of quality and everything that you do and make sure that no matter who is helping you, everyone is following the same process at the same level of excellence. So before I keep going, I want to share with you about the freebie. For today's episode. We have created an so P on SOPs. That's right.

We have a standard operating procedure for standard operating procedures. In other words, a step-by-step guide on how exactly to create an s o p. And that is your free download for today. You are not going to want to miss it, so you can download that over on the show notes. That's professional creative.com/blog/. So for about 10 years, I was a solopreneur.

I was very much literally the only person working in my business, which meant that I did everything. And I know that so many of you are doing absolutely everything as well. And my hope for you is that you can get to a place where you can start doing more of only the things that really only you can do and begin delegating the things that you could have help with.

And so an S o P library of Little Tiny trainings is gonna be your ticket to starting to get a little bit of help and delegating properly the things that you wanna hand off in your business, because the truth is you have no business wasting time doing some of the tasks that you're doing in your business. Now, we all do that at the beginning, but there's a shift that must take place because your highest work, your highest level of creativity is something that should be prized and very much spent the most time on. And so when the majority of your day is spent on answering emails and checking the calendar and booking appointments or I don't know, packaging your products or something like that, that could easily be handed off to someone else, you're actually very much slowing your growth. Even though it can be fun to wear all the hats at the beginning, eventually it actually holds you back and you must bring some people in to help. So SOPs are how you are going to do that. In fact, I'll probably do an episode pretty soon on all of the very first things that you could and should delegate out of your business.

I think that would be a really fun one to talk about because this is hard. It's hard to delegate, it's hard to get help, it's hard to, you know, give other people things to do. In fact, I would say the two biggest issues that we run into that stop people from doing this are, number one, I don't have time to train someone else, right? I don't have time to train someone else. We're so busy doing all of the things that we can't even slow down long enough to to onboard someone in order to help. And so an s o P library, you only have to slow down once and I'm gonna teach you how you actually don't have to slow down. All you have to do is hit record while you're doing it one day anyways,

and that's all. And so you actually don't have to slow down, but you do have to build this library one time and then you don't have to do it ever again. How many of you have gotten some seasonal help for the same thing, but it's been with four different people over the last five years. And so you've trained all four people the same exact thing, right? But if you had an s o P library, you would've just handed them the library that you did five years ago and they would've been completely trained on everything without a moment of your time. So that's the freedom that we're talking about. The next common objection that I think we all have to manage is no one can do it like I do, right? No one can do it as good as me, so I'll just do it myself. This is such a limiting belief. It's also just very much not true, and it's something that will hold us back. Now, you do have to find the right people who will care and be able to follow your vision for your business, but that's absolutely possible.

And one way to ensure it is by SOPs. So recording a training on how to do something exactly how you want it to be done, and then using that as a check mark for the person who's taking it over. You can do this all the way down to how you want your boxes taped shut and the label placed on, okay? So absolutely people can do it just as good as you.

I hate to break it to you, but there are people out there who could actually do it better than you. That is what I have found as well. I like to surround myself with people who actually do things better than I do, and that way I'm doing only the things that only I can do, like record this podcast and create my own artwork and things like that.

So let me tell you about the very first time that I decided to create an sop. This was around videos. And so for my membership and our course, we often record videos and I will just finish out the whole thing. Oh, I also do a lot of live q and as. So let's take a live q and a for example. So I'll host the live q and a.

It generally lasts for about an hour, and then I have to wait for Zoom to process the recording, and then I download it, and then I upload it into a program called searchy. Now we are big searchy fans. Searchy is a program that transcribes all of our videos and then makes them searchable by key word for our members. And so we run all of our videos through Searchie, and then we upload it to the post inside of our program as a replay, right? And so with that replay, I'm popping in the SEARCHY code for the video, and then I'm also copying and pasting all of the questions that got answered in that video over. And then finally I'm hitting publish. Well, that whole thing, you know, it takes about an hour and a half for things to download and process and transcribe and all of that.

But really the actual like clicking around is probably less than 10 minutes of my time. And so I just took it. I have done it. I did it in my business for 10 years. I'm pretty quick at it. I don't mind letting it run in the background. So I just did it until one day I realized what would it feel like if I just hung up the q and a and I was done.

And so the very next time that I did this, I hit record and I just did a screencast. So I use a Mac and I just use QuickTime, which is standard. It comes on all Mac products, but if you're on a pc, you can use their program as well to do a screen recording. So I just hit a screen recording.

The next time I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it anyways. And the only difference was that this time I spoke through it, I just said out loud what I was doing as I was doing it, and then I had a video training. It's that easy. So then I had a video training and then I could pass it off to someone on my team.

And so today, I don't do all of that download, upload, process, copy, paste, publish, someone on my team does. It's usually Kylie or Nikita, and they take that for me. And so that's an example of the power of an s o p. If you're doing something in your business that you could hand off to someone else, all you have to do is hit record the next time you do it and start creating a library of tiny trainings. Now, if you can't screen record, say you are like packaging a product and you want it to be done a very particular way, just use your phone and take a video. This doesn't have to be super professional, it just needs to be done.

So really the next level of this is that once you, the owner of the business, create all of the SOPs for everything that you do in the business, and you begin handing them off to someone else, you bring in a VA or a friend or someone to help you package or you hire an employee. And so today with my team of eight, every single employee is also in charge of creating an s o P for every single thing that they do in the business. And so I have my library that I pass off to them, and then they have their own library. And so I wanna talk about the importance of that as well. Having your team members create their own s o p library absolutely ensures this comprehensive knowledge base that you have as the business owner.

And this is so important because then when someone goes on vacation or they get sick, they can hand off their s o P library to the person who's gonna cover for them. And so it's completely fine if someone is out unexpectedly or if they are out, they don't have to spend weeks and weeks training someone, they have their S O P library, so they just hand it off.

The other way that this is really impactful is that on occasion in my business, we've moved people around. So let's say someone from customer service now comes into program management. And so rather than have them spend a ton of time training someone new for customer service, all they really have to do is hand over their S O P library to the new employee, and then they're taking on the S O P library from the last program manager. So it really, really helps when people are kind of moving around and perhaps switching positions at your company as well, because all of a sudden you've recovered all of the time that it takes in order to train people, especially when you're training people over and over and over again on the same things.

So our rule of thumb is that if you do it twice, you make an s o P about it, which is a pretty high standard if you literally do something more than once, you create a standard operating procedure for it and add it to your library. So we're gonna talk about the library here in a little bit, but this is just an incredible resource for new employees as well.

So if you hire someone, you think about that onboarding process and helping them get their head wrapped around what you're doing well, if you can hand them a library of trainings that they can sit with, they can train themselves and then they can come back and rewatch it anytime that they have a question. So when you have other people creating SOPs in your business, I also highly encourage periodic reviews because by nature people will learn a better way to do things or a more efficient way to do things, or a program will be updated or a software will change. And so we have periodic reviews. We typically do this twice a year where everyone goes in and reviews their SOPs to make sure that they're kept up to date.

You know, I think one of the things as a business owner that makes us uncomfortable and makes us really love doing all of the things is control. We really want to know how everything in our business works and how to do it or, or is that just me? But I think that part of that is being uncomfortable when someone else holds some knowledge that you don't know, and that leaves you feeling a little vulnerable. Like, if this person quit and walked away today, or if this person got sick and had to leave for a long time, right? Then you would be vulnerable because you don't actually know how they do what they do. You see what I'm saying? And so part of this is having everyone on your team document the knowledge that they have that's, you know, held within inside your business, like the systems and processes that they've created to use in your business. Have them document it so that you have it, and you can always know exactly how they're doing what they're doing. That helps give you permission to step away a little bit and not have to be the one in control of knowing every little detail all the time, because that is just exhausting. So as you can see, this concept is exactly how you begin getting a little bit of help. And then it's how you begin to grow a team, and then it's how you scale your business. No business has ever scaled without a library of systems and processes. So let me share 10 examples of SOPs that we have in my business, just so that you can start wrapping your head around the types of things that this works great for. And then I'll talk about how to actually house and organize your SOPs. Okay, so example number one is how to set up a new meeting in Zoom and get the Zoom invitation link. As you can imagine, we are doing webinar style Zoom calls. We're doing breakout session Zoom calls.

We're doing big meeting Zoom calls, and the dashboard of Zoom can be a little overwhelming. And so we created an S O P for anyone who is wanting to get a Zoom invitation link and all of the settings like, do you want to put people in a waiting room or do you want them to be able to join at any time? Do you want q and a?

Do you want the replay in the cloud or on your computer? All of those settings we have an S o P for so that anyone on the team can reference it at any time. Number two is how to create shipping labels. All of the things that go into creating shipping labels. What about different box sizes? What about different weights? How do we ship international?

Do we do the cheapest or the slowest, or do we do the fastest? You know, do we do U P s or U S P S? All of the things that go into making a decision around shipping labels. Number three is how I handle partner payouts. So we come together with other industry leaders to promote things from time to time. So for instance, the immersion course, I have several alumni who helped me promote that course, and so they get a payment for everyone who signs up with their link. That's how affiliate programs work, right? And so there's this whole thing that has to happen every month where we export the data and import it into like a PayPal payout spreadsheet, and then we actually process it.

And so I created an S O P over that so that my VA could take it for me. Number four is how to create a run of show. So oftentimes in my business, we're doing something called a round table where we bring in like four or five different experts to talk on a subject. For instance, this month in Flourish, we're having a round table of print on demand experts come in and tell us, you know, how they are winning at print on demand. And so we create a run of show to give everyone so that they know where to come, what link to join, and then when to join, and then what the flow of the whole call will be, like, what we're gonna do for the first five minutes, then what questions we're gonna answer, what order we're gonna go in, and everything like that. Number five is how to create a weekly email. Now, I typically do all of our emails that go out as a broadcast, but some of our program emails get to be refreshed every year, and that my program manager helps me with. And so we have a S O P on how to develop that weekly email.

Number six is how to add tags or import an export subscribers into our email service provider. So sometimes we're exporting C S B files of people who have signed up for something, and then we've got to import that into an email service provider and tag them appropriately. And so there's an s o P for that. Number seven is how to update the inside of our program.

So for us, this is our membership called Flourish, or really any product like a course. Well, we wanna make sure that the announcement bar and the sidebar is always up to date with the latest replay and any announcements that we have coming up or the link for the Zoom call that day. And so we have an s o on how to update all of those areas so that my program manager can do that for me.

Number eight is how to organize posts in plani for Instagram. So we, I have my personal Instagram, which is Bonnie Christine, but we also have a community Instagram account where we very specifically showcase students work. And this one is called We are Surface Pattern Design. And so the way that we do that, we allow students to submit their work for consideration, and then we batch pull those and organize them on a grid in advance using a program called Plank. And so we're not posting over there in real time. We do that in batch work. So we pull everyone's work, we organize it in a way that maybe flows really beautifully. We've got quotes from me that go in between, and we can do that all at once using this plan only app.

And so we have an s o P on how to do that. Number nine is adding weekly programming to our master content calendar. Now, this is kind of an inside, you know, businessy thing that we do on the team, but we have a master content calendar so that at a glance, everyone on the team can see what content is going out on what platform on any given day of the week.

And there's a way that you have to submit that content to show up on the calendar. So we have an s o P for that. And then number 10 is my example that I already shared how to process and post a replay for one of our programs using certi. So I bet that you could sit down and probably write down 10 things very quickly that you're doing in your business that you could create a tiny training on.

And so I want you to do that. That is your homework. Sit down if you do 10, I bet you could probably do a hundred, but write 10 things down that you're likely gonna be doing in the next week, and think about how you could make a little s o p for those by hitting record on a screencast or with your phone video and just capture what you're doing.

So once you do that, let's talk about, well, how do you organize these? Well, I think simple is best. You do not have to overcomplicate this. So there are lots and lots of different options. If you are up and running with a project management system, something like Trello or Asana, then you could easily put them there. But I'm guessing that most of you are not.

And so what I would do is think about organizing them in a simple Google doc just linked and explained there, or in Dropbox folders. So if you think about it, you could have one Dropbox folder called SOPs, and then you could have a folder for every type of task. So let's say they're packaging and shipping, and then videos, all the different types of categories, and then put every s o p in there. Now, I'll tell you what we do, and we use a platform called cajabi for all of our programs. So our membership, our courses, everything is hosted on Kajabi. So what we did is actually just create a product that looks like a course, but it's only for people on the team. So it's called Team BC Systems.

And every person has a module, if you wanna think about it like that, a module. And every lesson in that module is an S o P. So there's eight modules, right? That represents every one person on the team. And so anytime someone creates an s o p, they go and add it as a lesson to their module inside of our course, which only the eight of us have access to. So that was a pretty fun way to make it work for us. So lots of different ways to do it. All you really need to do is get it organized in one place. So Google Doc, Dropbox, Google Drive, any of that will work really well. So we're coming to the end of this episode.

I would love to know your thoughts. Have you done these before? Have you thought about doing them before? I want you to not overthink it, keep it simple, but promise me that you'll do it. Remember, the freebie for this episode is our so P on SOPs. So it's literally a step-by-step guide on how to create your very owns o p, including how to document the process and organize it as well. So head on over to the show notes to get that. That's professional creative.com/blog/ 45 to get our SOPs on SOPs. In conclusion, I think it's just so important to remind you that this library of trainings is the way that you get to stop doing absolutely everything in your business. It's how you get a little bit of help, even if it's an intern or a friend or a mom or a dad who's coming in to just help you. If you have a library of training videos, then this is how you hand it off the most efficient way, and you only have to do it once. So let's say you have a different intern every summer, right? Well, you're probably spending a lot of time training them every single summer.

And so if you create a library one time, then you're done. This is also how you begin to build a team, and it's absolutely how you begin to really grow your business and see it take off and scale. So tell me some of the 10 SOPs that you've decided to do. First, I can't wait to hear about them. I hope this has helped you.

I'll see you next time for another episode, but for now, create the beauty that you want to see come alive in the world. And remember, there's room for you. Bye for now.


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I'm Bonnie Christine.


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