4 Mistakes Service Businesses Make (When Creating Processes)

What are the processes that all service businesses should create?  If you are like many entrepreneurs, you are wearing a lot of hats. You may find yourself repeating yourself or explaining a seemingly endless list of “one-off tasks” to your team.

This is the number one sign that you either don’t have enough scalable processes (or even any at all). Creating processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs) makes it easier to run and streamline your company. When done right, it can feel like a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders since you can delegate responsibilities and tasks to your team without micromanaging or worrying that balls will be dropped.

Business Processes

In this post, we’re sharing the four biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make when they start to create their first few processes. Check them out below.

Mistake 1 – Failing to store all of their processes in a central hub

Your processes should live wherever your team spends the most time. For most teams, this is likely in your project management software. Or maybe an internal Wiki. If you want your team to use these processes every single time, it needs to be incorporated naturally in their workflow.

Mistake 2 – Building a process with 100+ steps

Okay, I might be exaggerating a little here. But when you are used to working on a thing, it is easy to overcomplicate it. You add in every possible nuance and aspect, and suddenly you wind up with a process that’s 100 steps or a video SOP that’s 30 minutes long.

The result is your team might follow this process a couple of times. Then, they are going to iterate and do their own thing because they aren’t going to want to follow a 30-minute video each time. This negatively impacts your business’s scalability and leads to quality issues.

A better solution is to turn complex processes into multiple processes. For example, if you run a podcasting agency, you might have a complex process for recruiting and hiring podcast editors. Instead of having one giant process with all of the steps involved, you could turn this into multiple micro-processes, including:

1. How to write a podcast editor job ad

2. Where to post the job ad online

3. Conducting the initial form screening

4. Interviewing and vetting the top candidates

5. Creating and evaluating a test project

6. Scheduling the kickoff call and sending the freelance contract

Pro Tip: You can use process-oriented project management software, such as ProcessKit <add link>, to connect all of these smaller processes to a larger project. Then, you can use conditional logic to automate it so that when a team member completes the first task, it automatically assigns them the next task to complete.  

Mistake 3 – Doing everything manually

Automating your processes through “if-then, than that” conditional statements not only saves you time but ensures that your process fires every single time. So, the risk of human error, such as forgetting to attach the process in a Slack message) goes way down.

Pro Tip: Check out this guide with tips on how to automate your team’s processes effectively. 

Mistake 4 – Creating all of them at once

If you are like me, it is easy to get inspired and suddenly create a bunch of processes at once. While this can work great for some aspects of businesses (like frantically catching up on your bookkeeping ahead of the tax deadline), it doesn’t work so well when it comes to designing systems and processes that your team will use.

Instead, it is best to focus on building out one process at a time. Then, roll it out to your team and iterate slowly based on what’s working and what could be improved.

Then, once you have a process dialed in, you can automate it and rest easy that your team will follow it without having to micromanage anything.  Then, rinse and repeat with more of them.

Wrapping Up

In sum, creating processes will make your business more scalable and can keep you – the entrepreneur sane. Just like learning a new language or picking up a new sport, the more systems and processes, you create in your business, the more you’ll learn how to design ones that stick.

Watch this space for updates in the Opinion category on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Jessica Malnik

I'm a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. My writing has appeared on ProcessKit, The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other websites.

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