Having an operations manual makes your business more scalable. Period. Simply put, you cannot step out from working in your business until you properly document how you run your business. As you transition from being solely owner-operated you should consider how you will teach your staff to greet your customers, make your product, or troubleshoot when things go wrong.
As the business owner, you are always the best person to write your manual. Why? Because only you know why you greet your customers with, “what brings you in today?”- rather than- “have you been helped?” Invest the time and energy to write the first draft and then hire a professional to polish it.
Here are three things to keep in mind when writing your initial draft.
Your manual should be broken up by audience. The tasks, processes, and procedures you describe should be specific to the person that will carry them out.
Simplicity is the key to success. When you are describing a task or process, you need to be able to pair it down its simplest level. Use checklists, pictures, screenshots, or videos to supplement your content, making it more accessible and easier to digest.
Voice and Tone
How would you describe your company brand? Is it fun? Female-empowered? Formal and professional sounding? Regardless, your manual should emulate your company’s brand voice and tone. Looking for an example? The Mailchimp Content Style Guide is a great place to start.
Once you get your initial draft written, I recommend hiring a professional to look over it. At minimum, have them proof-read it. If your budget allows, have them spend some time copy-editing it. A professional technical writer will use their skills and expertise to bring additional clarity to your document, increasing the likelihood someone will actually want to and enjoy reading it.
Sandra Graham is the founder of Get Simple Systems, focused on helping small businesses and franchised companies to get their business out of their head and down on paper so they can grow and scale efficiently. With a background in operations and strategic planning, Sandra has over a decade of experience working in the public, private, and non-profit sectors across various industries including Health, Education, Food and Beverage, and Tech.
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