Having a suitable, standard operating procedure (SOP) is crucial for efficiently running any business. If your business doesn’t have a simple structure to handle the simple tasks, then creating SOPs must be prioritized.
Business owners often make the mistake of believing that the growth of a business depends on more advertising, but that is not always the case.
As important as these elements may be for your businesses, having a successfully operating business requires improvement in other departments. One of the most differentiating factors between a successful business and one that continues to play “catch-up” is having SOPs in place.
Standard operating procedures are instructions that are well-written to explain how a task or job is handled. They are tailor-made and in-depth guides to make a task easier to do. SOPs are practical and can be used for virtually any task imaginable. They have been used for financing, legal work, operations in business, and so much more.
How Do SOPs Improve Businesses?
Kamyar Shah, a strategic leader and consultant, discusses his experience of working with organizations on The Process Breakdown podcast. He has found that most of them lacked SOPs or had very few of them. In comparison, organizations that had well-thought-out and structured SOPs ran quicker and more efficiently. The podcast continues with Kamyar emphasizing that SOPs are the factors that may seem small, but give businesses an edge in the industry.
Why Should You Have SOPs?
Improves the ability of employees executing tasks
If an essential task in a workplace appears too complex, there is a strong possibility that clear instructions and expectations for this specific task are missing.
When a company takes the time to have SOPs written down, people know exactly what to do, are more reliable, and are more likely to succeed. Employees are also less confused and have fewer questions.
Consistent businesses are reliable. Even if the products are small, reliability in producing great results is important and customers will be satisfied. A written down SOP gives everyone a standard to target and if everyone meets that target then better results will be achieved.
What you produce can be affected by mistakes and these will reduce the quality or the quantity of the product.
Efficient on-boarding process
When you have standard operating procedures, you make hiring and retaining employees a lot easier.
Training new employees becomes much easier, because new employees can adopt the a lot faster when they are written down. SOPs also make it easy for you to recognize the problems a new trainee might be facing and address them faster.
Improves health and safety practices
An employee’s safety should be high priority when conducting a business. In some fields, an injured employee and damaged equipment often occur from an unsafe work environment. When employees follow SOPs, they tend to keep the environment and themselves safe.
When it comes to online and SaaS business, having a system of processes in play can avoid mishaps from happening. As a lending or software company, it’s important to stay away from bad press as much as possible. It is crucial for any company that has social media or any marketing outreach, to have the do’s and don’ts written out for any onboarding team member.
Get proper feedback
It is important to consider speaking with front-line workers. Your front-line has the most contact with customers and know their complaints. When you open the door for feedback, you may find that your business’s decisions to retain customers are actually doing the exact opposite.
Speaking to employees and trying to find out what the customers think will help you see progress. This can help build a good client relationship.
What Results Can You Expect from Using SOPs?
Common issues being resolved
When you have a working SOP, make sure to take the time and have the right people look over the SOP together so any details may be discussed. see if an ambiguous part of it can be dealt with. This helps you work with employees properly while bringing their problems they may be experiencing with either the procedure or workplace environment to light.
SOPs point out organizational needs. This allows new and employees to understand the standards of the company and receive the correct information.
If everything is properly spelled out within the SOP, you will find that the frequency of communication gaps will be cut down drastically.
Better performance according to checklist
SOPs are used as checklists for supervisors and as a standard form of communication to team members. Because of this, there will be noticeable performance progress among your team. Invariably, this will lead to better client satisfaction, especially if proper feedback is given from the client on their specific needs.
According to the managing attorney for Empire Recovery Services in Manhattan, a merchant cash advance business that offers customers debt recovery services, Steven Zakharyayev;
“Every aspect of the industry is under scrutiny right now. Syndication agreements, underwriting, and collections are the subject of bills in Congress and across multiple states,”
Any time funding is provided through a merchant cash advance, the strict legal framework surrounding this kind of business mandates a high level of discreteness.
Let’s explore the do’s and don’ts that will separate your business from success and failure.
The strict legal framework surrounding this kind of business mandates a high level of discretion. In other words, it is highly suggested as a business to avoid any unnecessary attention, particularly from the law.
Regardless of your situation, it is crucial to avoid court cases at all costs because any unwanted attention for your business could become a public relations nightmare.
According to Paul A. Rianda, heads of a law firm that has numerous clients in MCA companies;
“The business model of sue first, ask questions later can be a problem,”
In an article, she continues on stating that when lawsuits come into the picture, there’s a high chance that things could spiral out of control. Worst-case scenario, you could be staring down the barrel of a class-action lawsuit.
Get the Law On Your Side
In addition to avoiding lawsuits and generally anything that causes your business to become under a microscope, you should consider the legal protections you have in place.
Different funders may employ a variety of methods to ensure the law is on their side, which may take research in deciding which options are best for you. Funders have a few options such as:
- In-house counsel
- contract with external law firms
- poaching from a reputable funder online or from a friend in the industry.
According to Kimberly M. Raphaeli, vice president of legal operations at Accord Business Funding in Houston, citing the scenario of poaching;
“The trouble is what flies in one state may not be legal in another…”
She cites the potential discrepancies exist between different states. In summary, it is generally important to have some form of legal counsel in your team.
Follow the Rules to the Letter
Due to the regulatory framework surrounding the raising of funds, particularly from the SEC, it is important to ensure proper research is done when accepting investors.
In the event of a funder requiring external backing from investors, the funder must treat the situation as if they are issuing securities and follow the rules accordingly.
According to Nowak, the attorney with Pepper Hamilton;
“You need to be very careful here because these rules are unforgiving. You can’t ignore them,”
Taking the steps in differentiating yourself from the competing pack is a set-up for long-term success. According to Steve Denis, executive director of the association whose members include funders and lenders;
“It’s a very competitive market and companies are trying to differentiate themselves. I think it’s important to make sure you’re following industry standards,”
Steve continues by citing the importance of ensuring that you’re operating under the radar but at the same time following the industry’s best practices. In this regard, it is also important for funders to create a dynamically efficient pattern that ensures they can accommodate potential changes due to competitive and business realities.
Don’t Forget Accounting
Yoel Wagschal’s view about accounting focuses on the importance of getting streamlined accounting services that cater to the unique nature of the business. He cites the disadvantages and gaps that exist from using sophisticated software that don’t necessarily cater to the accounting department’s needs.
The most important thing is ensuring that there’s ample information for both the sales and accounting aspects. It is equally important to have a system to sorts out the information and provides every department with only relevant data for processing. This will prevent any sort of wastage of time and company resources.
Staying on the right side of the law, and preferably, under the radar are essential for any funder. There is a constant balancing act between popularity and customer relations.
This means that a premium is placed on discretion and the ability to solve problems with minimal friction. In an industry where businesses are easily scrutinized, it is important to abide by the law and to avoid any negative press whatsoever.. It could be the definitive line between success and failure.
Billd is a material supplier who provides short-term financing for the construction industry. Their aim is helping contractors and suppliers grow their businesses with less hassle and risk. They offer credit up to 120-day terms for contractors, who usually aren’t paid until more than 90 days after purchasing materials – allowing contractors to scale their business and stabilize cash flow. Billd understands that traditional credit data can be a poor predictor in the construction industry and embraces contractors who struggle to obtain traditional bank financing.
Billd attempted to manage their material financing product by initially relying on Quickbooks, but quickly realized that it would be difficult to manage a fast-growing company when their system relied on manual disbursements.
They dedicated 4-6 hours daily on disbursements, making it difficult for scalable growth. They needed a platform that was suited for their specific needs and required a highly accurate platform with strong data integrity and daily recording.
To streamline their operations and grow their business, Billd needed a solution that could cut down time dedicated to manual disbursements. Fundingo was able to provide a transition to a fully digital, streamlined and integrated credit management system; one that provides notifications for failed repayments and other updates vital to their day-to-day operations.
With Fundingo’s implementation of their credit servicing module in May 2019, Billd experienced an increase in disbursement funds by 900% and has expanded its team to at least double their original size. Fundingo was able to decrease Billd’s time spent on disbursements; going from 4-6 hours daily to 1 hour of double-checking their sheets. Since working with Fundingo, Billd averages about 2,500 transactions/wk and has become a client with a fully-customized software.
“We really have to give kudos to the development team for everything they’ve done. Throughout the entire process and even today, we’ve been able to feel more like a member of the team and less of a vendor-client relationship.”
Jon Placa – Director of Financial Operations – Billd
Rewards Network is in the business of providing working capital and marketing services to over 25,000 restaurants across the country. The IT team implemented Salesforce almost 10 years ago. Over the past few years, there have been only minimal changes to enhance the platform or to engage the users. The result is that Rewards Network missed out on many of the broad advancements and integrations that Salesforce has brought to the market.
TowerBrook Capital Partners recently purchased the company with the goal of expanding the company’s market share
through the integration of smaller independents and additional service offerings to accelerate growth. Management
had been running into significant challenges in their efforts to:
- Increase user adoption
- Improve data integrity and reliability
- Eliminate ineffective rules of engagement with customers
- Correct inaccurate forecasting and reporting
- Evaluate each department performances
CloudMyBiz (CMB), which had previously worked with a member associated with TowerBrook, was brought in to
partner with the IT team – not replace them. CMB provided expert guidance and consulting to help IT optimize its
Salesforce instance. The key areas of improvement that needed assistance were:
- Business process alignment and optimization to gain consensus, reduce maintenance, and improve clarity
- Build a scalable system designed for future growth,
- Improve user benefit and adoption with improved UX, speed, and utility in the CRM
- Optimize the data model for automation and reporting
Through its discovery process, CMB quickly evaluated the situation, discovered the gaps, determine where enhancements and integrations were required to improve customer satisfaction. A process was also implemented on how best to engage and then train the administrative and remote sales teams while also creating an environment where the IT team was viewed as a trusted partner wanting to support all the departments.
As the platform enhancements and integrations were implemented, and the training processes tested and launched, the internal IT team and management team were thoroughly excited when seeing the improvements. CMB delivered the
structure the internal Rewards Network team needed, who were then able to take the system the rest of the way!
Management and IT are already seeing vast improvements in the following areas:
- Lead, Account, and Opportunity planning to drive behavior within leading indicators for more predictable
- Automated “rules of engagement” to drive sales team expectations and behavior
- Optimizing Salesforce as a CRM/sales tool to get a greater ROI in Salesforce
- Creating workflows and tools within Salesforce that create a more collaborative, streamlined work
- Dynamic record assignment and reassignment based on existing or changed markets and regions
What is the one most potent drive that humans have? Is it physical survival? To a degree, yes. But if we need only to address our basic needs to live, why do we strive for something more?
There is a secondary drive in humans that at times overrides even our physical survival. Some set out to climb Everest. Others leave their mark with literature or art.
Everyone, in their own respect, is looking for their way to be heard.
On the one hand, being heard implies projecting your ideas onto someone else. On another, it indicates that someone will listen. So how does one get the authority and expertise that makes them a leader?
Kamyar Shah, fractional COO/CMO, addressed the question in an interview with Coruzant. He responded above all that knowledge and lifelong learning is the key to leadership.
What is his motivation to learn? It’s not leadership. It’s not even advancing in his career.
His motivation to learn, he answered, is waking up every day “not knowing” and wanting to change that.
The beauty of this is that it shows anyone can become a leader in their field. Don’t get overwhelmed by the mountain ahead. The climb is as easy as taking the first step.
1. Admit you don’t know
As mentioned by Shah, what drives him is the desire to know. Not knowing is the spark that motivated him to take over 100 courses in the last year. It took him from a call center to a fractional COO for seven different companies. Assuming that you don’t know is not the same as an admission of weakness. It’s the first step to gaining knowledge.
There will always be knowledge gaps and misunderstandings. Identifying them can help clear up misconceptions to communicate your message clearer. For example, alternative lenders face many communication gaps with their own clients. As discussed in this article, the responsibility is on them to lead and close these gaps.
2. Use free resources
Traditional education offers in-depth coverage of the topic at hand. But, the cost and time constrictions limit its practicality for some. What’s most important is what you learn, not following the standard means of getting there. Take advantage of other resources if you have time or financial constraints. Some options include webinars, LinkedIn learning, online conferences, and video lectures.
3. Get in-depth coverage
Short videos and blog posts have great introductory value for a topic. However, don’t forget to build on that information. Coupling easily digestible information with in-depth coverage gives invaluable context. Without this, it is harder to make sure that you have the context to apply your knowledge.
Consider listening to a lecture series, reading a book, or taking online courses. Remember that you can always ask someone with more experience than you, bringing us to the next point.
4. Talk to other professionals
Some of the most practical knowledge you can find comes from the people that use it every day. Talking with other professionals is an underutilized and crucial tool for learning. It adds the value of connecting with a source of direct experience in a given niche. If you have a particular question or want to hear more about why some use a specific process in their work, ask. Find out where the leaders of your industry go. Are they in LinkedIn groups or on forums? Are there conferences or other meetups that they frequent? There’s value in surrounding yourself not with people like you but with people like who you want to be.
5. Always aim to prove yourself wrong
The scientific method sets out to prove a proposed hypothesis wrong. Experiments exist only to see if the belief holds up. Only after every attempt fails to bring another conclusion is it trusted.
Like researchers, only after trying to prove our assumptions wrong will we see what’s right. Even illusions can hide a nugget of truth. When you encounter failure, learn everything you can from it. Change your process, try again, and each time you’ll come closer to success.
6. Use diverse sources of information
Every person puts their perspective and options into their work. Often, even the author is unaware. When you see diverse perspectives on the same information, it’s easier to see what they have in common.
The Chaldean Oracles and ancient wise men would invite people to partake in acts of collective reason. Often, they invited others, saying, “Come now, let us reason together.” Once you have enough perspectives to see what varies from person to person, you begin to pick out the truth. As you practice this, the process gets quicker, and even your own biases will yield to facts.
7. Apply your knowledge through action
Even the knowledge of the most educated individual doesn’t mean a thing until tested. For example, a person can spend their life studying the maintenance of cars. They can spend every day reading, watching videos, and observing. Does this make them a mechanic?
Not until they fix a car.
The best testing ground for your newfound knowledge is applying it every day in real life. It may not feel like progress at first, but even your struggles are a form of movement. Only after practice and application will you look back and see how far you’ve come.
Industry leaders are created through a lifetime of learning. It’s not about what resources you do or don’t have. All you need is the want to know, the openness to grow, and the willingness to try, fail, and try again. The following growth reaches much further than your career or even your industry. It provides tools you’ll have for life.