From Owner/Operator to CEO Part 2: Leveraging SOPs and Training to Achieve Your Goals

financial best practices planning procedures process improvement scale your business Jun 12, 2024
From Owner/Operator to CEO Part 2:  Leveraging SOPs and Training to Achieve Your Goals


[Listen to the podcast version here]


Today we’re going to talk about using SOP’s and training in your business to achieve your goals. Now, before you grab your pillow and take a nap, here me out!

I’ve spent my fair share of time in mind numbing meetings trying to visualize and document what people are actually doing every day. I’m sure you have too if you’ve ever tried to standardize a process in your business or where you’ve worked in the past.

But these meetings can be an opportunity for discovery and growth if managed properly!

Here are a couple of quick examples:

Let’s say you have a sales team of 3.

2 of your sales reps are good performers and get the job done, but the third is knocking it out of the park. Now, you could chalk this up to natural ability, charisma, more experience, etc. But there could be more to it than that.

You sit down with your sales reps to talk about future growth for the company and ask them to share what’s working for them and what their thoughts are on how the company can grow faster. This isn’t a formal SOP meeting; you’re just having a regular sales meeting. No pressure, no stress. You’re not putting them on the spot – you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Feedback and ideas are flowing, and the conversation is going well. And then your sales superstar shares what he’s doing that he thinks is driving his numbers up. It’s something he learned at a prior job that he’s kept doing because it gets results. Turns out, your other two sales reps didn’t know about this process. And boom! You’ve uncovered huge potential for sales growth without having to hire anyone new! From here, you can then work on creating the formal process and involve your sales superstar in training the other two reps.

Ok, now let’s look at your billing.

Cash flow has been a lot tighter lately, but sales are great, so what’s going on?

You pull some reports and at first, it looks like your customers are paying late so you sit down with your accounting and operations managers and ask for their insights.

As the story unfolds, what you find out is that there’s been a significant increase in the time it takes for information to get from operations to accounting for billing. Your sales team has done a great job bringing the business in and sales have doubled in the last 18 months. Operations is managing to keep up with completing the work, but the administrative stuff is falling through the cracks, slowing billing. A lot of processes are manual and need to be overhauled to save time and get billing done faster. From here, you can start the conversation on the best ways for everyone to work together to make this easier and more efficient.

With a couple of conversations, you’ve identified ways to grow your revenue and increase your cash flow without giving in to the knee-jerk reaction to just hire someone to fill the gap. You’re actively working to solve bottlenecks in your business, ultimately leading to increased profitability while taking up less of your time in the long run.

See where I’m going with this?

You’re looking at your business differently.

Instead of wading into the fight like you’re in the wild west, you’re having strategic conversations with the people you trust to manage your business and letting them do the heavy lifting.

No more shooting from the hip.

That can be effective in the short term, but if you want to step out of the operating role in your business at some point, the cowboy act has to go!

You need to be responsible for CEO level work and your team needs to be able to handle the rest.

This obviously isn’t going to happen overnight, but once you’ve identified your goals, you can build a plan and start implementing it step by step to grow yourself and your team to get there.

Whether you want to add new locations, expand service offerings, create your exit strategy, open a whole new business or just optimize the one you have to free up your time, developing SOP’s and investing in training your team to excel at them will be critical to your success.

The people you need to hire, the specific processes and training you’ll need, and your timeframe will vary, but you’ll still need to do these things.

Communication will be very important as you move forward in this process, especially if you haven’t focused on these kinds of activities before.

If your team doesn’t understand why you’re doing this, they will come up with their own explanations, and those usually aren’t good ones. Be up front and honest. Don’t give them time to create bogeymen to distract them from working together to achieve your goals.

Actively seek their input and support. You’ll need them to buy into the process for this to go as smoothly as possible. You may find that some people won’t fit into your new vision, and that’s ok. I’ve worked with several people in the past that were great at their jobs until the process changed and they weren’t interested in learning a new way. Wish them luck and let them go on their way! The ones who do stay will be integral in building the foundation for what’s to come.

Start with having conversations with your team.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can ask them to do a brief SWOT Analysis to get the conversation started. Tell them what your vision of the company is and ask them to think about the business from that perspective.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths and Weaknesses are internally focused, and Opportunities and Threats are externally focused.

Use a big whiteboard or sticky notes on the wall to gather responses.

Initially, just let your team brainstorm and get ideas out there. Once everyone has had a chance to respond, you can then start diving deeper into the things your team has identified and see how they impact the direction you want to go.

Don’t get hung up on whether something is working well or not or try to solve all the company’s issues in one day. The point of this initial meeting is simply to start the process and make sure that everyone feels like they had a chance to provide input.

You can then schedule additional time as needed and give your team a chance to do some research and analysis to help decide what the next steps should be.

Eventually, a target list will emerge, and you can build a plan to start working on it. Be careful with how many things you decide to change at one time. You don’t want to overwhelm your people or end up missing unintended consequences from the changes you’re making. Things can have a ripple effect and cause new bottlenecks if not handled correctly. You also want to be able to measure how well things are going. If you change too many things at one time, it may be difficult to analyze results for a specific item.

One last thing to remember is you don’t have to do this alone.

You might not have someone on your team that either has the bandwidth or experience to manage this process. That’s where I could be your next superstar.

If you’re ready to grow to next stage of your business, schedule your free Cash Flow Optimization call with me today. On this call, we’ll discuss your current opportunities and challenges, where you want to take your business, and if we’re a good fit, I’ll share ways I can help you achieve your goals faster.

Stay tuned for part 3 of the series where I’ll share some strategies for optimizing your cash flow and maximizing revenue so you don’t have to work as hard.

Unleash Your Cash Flow Potential


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  • Develop a clear picture of what success means for you
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