Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

Creating An Operations Manual for Your Business

Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the most challenging and exciting things you will do in your life. 

It will be life changing and test you beyond your current comprehension.

If you want to build a successful, scalable business then you must create an Operations Manual. 

For many of you this will sound scary, or maybe you are even saying ‘why on earth do I need that’? 

Well, my lovely creative lady, business is all about operational procedures, even if you don’t recognise it right now. When you are making money, there must be a method of daily, weekly, monthly, and annual operation. 

The things you do daily to generate the sales in your business. 

There are usually 3 stages to generating sales in your creative business.

  1. Manufacturing – making, painting, sculpting the products that you intend to sell. This can be courses or programs, paintings, jewellery, craft products, upholstery, or homeware etc. Maybe it is painting a canvas and then having it scanned to sell prints and cards. This is a key part of your operation.
  2. Marketing – social media, website, local marketing, networking, physical marketing materials such as leaflets etc., paid advertising.
  3. Sales – funnels, automations, discovery calls, direct selling, public speaking, or events, launches, online galleries or events.

Each of these three components forms the operation of your business. If you were to become ill for a lengthy period, what would happen to your business? Could someone step in and pick up the reins? Would they know where to start and what to do?

This is where your operations manual steps in. Writing down what you do and how you do it creates a distinct set of processes which can be picked up by anybody. When you are ready to employ someone, it is easy to train them because you have a set of procedures for them to follow.

This became apparent to me when I launched my very first retreat at The Art Bank. I always do everything myself first in business so that I can understand the most productive way to deliver the standards I require. I did it in my coaching business and I am now doing the same in my retreats and B & B business.

I wanted to use this as an example in this blog to prompt you into thinking about all the things you do. So here is one task broken down into operational procedures. Apply the same thought process to your business and go create your Ops manual.

Procedure: Setting up for breakfast – the room will be clean from the previous day.

7 am – Set dining table to include:

Place settings – Placemat and coaster in position, knife, fork, spoon, side plate with knife and napkin, cup and saucer with teaspoon, small glass for fruit juice.

Table – Salt & pepper, selection of jams, honey & chocolate spread, jugs of milk, orange juice and one alternative juice to be brought out just before service, lazy Susan filled with fresh fruits, butter and margarine in the compartments, brown and white sugar containers with teaspoons, brown and tomato sauce bottles on the table (check the lids on the bottles have been washed and are clean), check the diagram to make sure the setting is correct. You can draw what you want your table to look like or teach someone exactly how you want the layout to look.

Sideboard – Put filter coffee on 20 minutes prior to service using 3 heaped dessert spoons of coffee. Plate up brown and white bread on a serving plate and cover with a clean linen tea towel prior to service (remove tea towel when first guests arrive). Check there are sufficient cereal bowls and that the display of cereal is full and tidy. Check there are dessert spoons for guests to use for serving nuts and fruits. Check all the jars of seeds, nuts, fruits are full, clean, and well presented. 

TV or music – Switch on the TV with the morning news channel, add a CD to the player and ask guests if they would prefer news or music when they arrive.

Is the room warm enough?

Is the morning newspaper on the side table?

Time for task completion – one hour.

Can you see how one single task of setting the table for breakfast can contain so many components? The next task is cooking breakfast, you will have a way of cooking, serving and presentation which needs to be communicated in the same way.

Now translate this detail to your online business and ask the following questions:

  • How many hours per week do I spend manufacturing (painting; writing course content, blogs or other; crafting) and exactly what do I do and how long does it take? 

Here is an example – I write 4 blogs per month, each blog takes 1.5 hours to write, I then upload it to the team social media folder for my team to create content from. I write about business for creative women and how they can do it better and make more money. Each blog is around 1200 – max 1500 words.

This could be outsourced if I were to become ill as a single task with clear guidelines.

  • How many hours per week do I spend writing content for my social media channels, creating graphics for those posts, and scheduling them? 
  • Which scheduling platforms, graphics platforms and font platforms do I prefer?
  • How do I present my posts, what are my brand fonts and colours?
  • What call to actions do I use and how often?
  • What time of day do my posts go out?
  • How many hours a week do I spend networking in groups, speaking at events, doing physical markets of craft fairs?
  • How often do I share my sales funnel, links, or ways for customers to buy and where do I share them?
  • How many hours per week do I spend planning, goal setting and reviewing in my business?

I could go on for pages here, but you see how many things you do that you just do and don’t think about. 

I knew that before I hired a team for my new business, I needed to know the standards I wanted and how long the tasks took to complete. It would not be cost effective to hire someone for two hours if the task only takes one, so I did it myself to see how long it took. Initially it will take longer until the person gets up to speed and my job will be to make sure I am checking their work and suggesting the most productive way of doing everything. This includes small things like propping the doors to the kitchen, utility and dining rooms open whilst setting up. Doing specific tasks at the same time to save time, etc.

Your Operations manual will grow with your business, but if you don’t have one your business will stop if you do. If you plan to scale your business or hire a team, it is your duty to make sure that you do it well. Failing to do so may eat away at your profit or bring sales to a dead stop.

Being organised and strategic may not be easy, but it makes business easy.

This I know for sure.

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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