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A Quick Reference Guide for Small Business Owners, Solopreneurs and Freelancers

Are you a small business owner who’s feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to keep your business running smoothly? This article shows you how to stay organized in your business in 7 easy steps.

My #1 Tip for Staying Organized in Business?

Written business procedures ⚡

Read on and find out how a little documentation can go a long way for your business – and your sanity.

Creating documented written procedures can seem like an extra step when you’re already feeling short on time, but think of this as a great investment for your business.

What Exactly Are Written Business Procedures?

Written business procedures are a set of formalized, documented instructions detailing the specific steps and actions required to perform a particular task or function within an organization.

And, if you think written procedures are just for larger companies with lots of departments, think again!

Why are Written Procedures So Important for Your Small Business?

As a solopreneur or small business owner, you likely spend your days switching between various roles and tasks. This can lead to chaos and inefficiencies.

Written procedures can help you stay organized, save time and money, and ensure that all aspects of your business are running as optimally as possible.

Also, have you ever thought about scaling your business? Hiring some extra help, maybe?

You’ll need written procedures. This ensures that tasks are done correctly and in a timely manner, by anyone you hire.

Once you know your own tasks inside out, regardless of how complex they may seem, you can more easily hire, train and manage additional help.

7 Steps to Organizing and Documenting Written Procedures

how to stay organized in business

Now that you see how written procedures can help you stay organized in your business, let’s dive in.

Here’s a quick & concise guide to help you start organizing and documenting written procedures for your business today.

Step 1: Identify Key Procedures

Begin by listing down all the essential processes and tasks that you perform regularly in your business. These can include:

  • Client onboarding
  • Project management
  • Invoicing and payment processing
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Customer support

Step 2: Break Down Each Procedure into Steps

Once you have identified the key procedures, break them down into individual steps. This will help you create a clear and concise guide for each process. For example, the client onboarding procedure can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Initial client consultation
  2. Signing of contract
  3. Setting up project management tools
  4. Collecting essential client information
  5. Conducting a project kick-off meeting

Step 3: Choose a Documentation Format

There are various formats you can use to document your procedures. Some popular options include:

  • Document files (e.g., Microsoft Word, Google Docs)
  • Spreadsheets (e.g., Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets)
  • Online knowledge bases or wikis (e.g., Notion, Confluence)

Choose the format that best suits your needs and preferences.

Step 4: Write (& Record) Detailed Instructions

For each step in your procedures, write clear and detailed instructions.

Use simple language and avoid jargon to ensure that anyone who reads the document can easily understand and follow the steps.

Include screenshots, images, or diagrams where necessary to provide visual guidance and support.

Pro Documentation Tip: Use Loom video to record brief tutorials while screen sharing.

Step 5: Standardize and Organize Your Documents

Organize your documented procedures into a logical structure to make it easy to locate and reference them. You may want to create folders or sections for different aspects of your business, such as:

  • Client management
  • Project management
  • Finance and accounting
  • Marketing and promotion

Ensure that all your documents follow a consistent format and style to make them easy to read and understand.

Step 6: Review and Update Regularly

As your business grows and evolves, your procedures may change. Regularly review and update your documented procedures to ensure they remain current and relevant.

This will also help you identify any gaps or areas for improvement.

Step 7: Train and Educate

When you bring on new team members or contractors, make sure they are familiar with your documented procedures.

Provide training and support to ensure they understand and can follow the processes you have established.

It’s never too late to get organized in your business. Also… getting organized is just an ongoing part of business (and life, for that matter!)

Final Thoughts

Starting your own business can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but things can get real disorganized, real fast.

To recap, there are plenty of benefits to documenting your business’ procedures. Written procedures:

  • Make it easier for you to stay organized and on top of tasks
  • Help you become more efficient in your business (is this task worth your time? Is there an adequate ROI?)
  • Facilitate training and development, enabling you to delegate tasks, and even scale your business
  • Help maintain quality control, and compliance with relevant regulations
  • Provide a clear framework for decision-making and problem-solving

By following these 7 steps, you’ll have a comprehensive guide for your business that prevents problems before they arise, supports your business’s growth, and keeps you feeling sane, organized and in control.

Speaking of documentation, does your business plan need a refresher? Check out another quick guide I wrote: How to Write a Winning One-Page Business Plan.

For further reading, I highly recommend Work the System by Sam Carpenter.