I’ve met so many of my fellow online services providers over the years who have convinced themselves that having a team is too much work and not profitable. But you know what I say to that?
I started out as a solo-OBM four years ago because I was pregnant and wanted desperately out of corporate. But four years later? I sit at the helm of a thriving, team-based business, new clients seek ME out, I have the luxury of turning down clients that don’t fit my team, and I can take a vacation from my business anytime that I want. My secret?
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) or more simply … systems!
It’s simple: if you’re delegating the right tasks, it’s cheaper for you to hire someone to follow your SOPs while you focus on other revenue generating ideas. Maybe you’re spending a ridiculous amount of time each week writing, formatting, and publishing a blog post for 3 different clients. Your clients are happy with your work. But your time would likely be better spent holding discovery calls and bringing in even more clients.
Your time is valuable. If you write a great SOP for posting these weekly blogs, including style guides and detailed, step-by-step instructions for publishing them properly, you can hire a team member that is cheaper than you are. Since you know what you want and how you want it, you can hire a freelancer or part-time team member who simply needs to follow the detailed instructions you’ve provided in your SOP.
And voila! The time you usually spend each week publishing blogs for existing clients is freed up for that pitch to a dream client.
Documenting tasks step-by-step is often how VAs become aware of inefficiencies. The simple act of recording every move you make when performing a task may bring to light areas that you are missing out on or procedures that take less time to perform but deliver the same results.
This is also a great way to foster a sense of ownership in the team member who takes over responsibility of the task. SOPs ensure that mistakes will not be made…mistakes that waste time and decrease your team member’s efficiency and your profits. And who better to point out inefficiencies than the person performing the repeatable task week in and week out? Delegating great SOPs allows these procedures to evolve over time and become the most efficient guides to completing tasks properly…without your watchful eye!
Hiring & Training
With proper hiring SOPs, you are ensured that the right person with the right characteristics to carry out your SOPs is hired every time you bring on a new team member.
For example, you may be having difficulty finding a graphic designer who can get on the same page with you. You’ve worked with a few, but they either end up being more work to manage than they’re worth or their work just plain doesn’t wow you. If you’re recording all of the very specific issues you’re encountering in the early stages of your business in a “Hiring a Graphic Designer” SOP, you have your entire interview mapped out when you decide to hire a quality, long-term graphic designer. You know exactly what irks you, and therefore, how they should be answering your questions if they’re the right person to join your team. You can even have one of your existing team members do the interviewing for you!
And just think about the time you’ll save training your team members when every single task they must perform each week is contained within a detailed and easy-to-follow SOP. What once took weeks for you to oversee during intensive training can now be condensed into a couple of days. Less time spent on training means that team members are immediately capable of performing day-to-day tasks without supervision and you have more time to focus on new, big-picture, revenue-generating ideas.
Look like the rockstar OBM that you are!
I started as a down and dirty, straight-up tech VA. But implementing systems in my own business quickly trickled down into my clients’ businesses as well. Now, every time I onboard a new client, I ask them for a list of the repeatable tasks in their business that need to be systematized. I want them to have these systems on hand should they grow their team in the future and want me to delegate tasks. I want them to have these systems on hand, when, eventually, they aren’t my client anymore.
Offering my clients “systems building” services has skyrocketed my business faster than I ever could have dreamed. You want the security and confidence to delegate to a team, but your clients want the exact same thing. They want to have a detailed system in case you or another team member fall ill for a week and a stand-in needs to step up. Having a VA in charge of creating systems for their business fosters a deep sense of loyalty in your clients, and makes them understand that you truly care about their business’ success. And that kind of a reputation spreads like wildfire.
So tell me: Are you a solo-OBM? What’s stopping you from implementing systems and documenting repeatable tasks in SOPs?