Small business owners wear many hats in their organization — operations, accounting, human resources, sales, etc. Because you are running around putting out fires, you don’t have time to think about, let alone create, policies and procedures, or P&P.
In the infancy stages of your business, you’ll be able to survive without them. As your employee and customer base grows, however, you will quickly learn that without policies and procedures you actually don’t have a real business.
The quicker you get them in place, the better off your organization will be.
Where do I start?
As silly as it may sound, start by writing a P&P on how to write policy and procedure. For example, talk about headers, footers, style of outline format, page numbers, etc.
As you grow, more and more managers will be writing P&P for your business. It’s important that they gain comfort and confidence; having this document as a starting point will help them gain both.
Policies and procedures are useless if your employees don’t have access to them. Paper copies of all P&P are time consuming and antiquated. A shared server such as SharePoint, Google Drive or Dropbox Business is the most efficient manner for you to provide and control access to your company’s policies and procedures.
Policies and procedures set clear guidelines and expectations for your employees. You can start by introducing the location and how to access P&P during the orientation process. Company policies and procedures can also serve as a great foundation for new hire training.
The effectiveness of P&P will be measured by your company’s ability to hold employees accountable to following P&P. If you provide well-written P&P and clearly communicate to your employees that you expect your staff to follow them, you have just laid the groundwork for a very sustainable company.
All businesses will experience chaos. The reasons will vary from the launch of a new product, a new customer, a spike in personnel turnover, etc. Whatever the reason, your people will cut corners, emotionally justifying that cutting corners helps them better deal with the chaos. Don’t let them!
Cutting corners, more appropriately referred to as not following policies and procedures, exposes your company to unnecessary liability. You write P&P to help your company more consistently and efficiently deal with the chaos; lean on them.
Author Fran Lebowitz once said, “Contrary to popular opinion, the hustle is not a new dance step — it is an old business procedure.” I know she is talking about hustling someone out of money, but I think about her quote a little differently. You won’t have to learn the hustle to deal with the chaos if you already have policies or procedures in place.
Writing policies and procedures is worthy of your time. Like a house without a foundation, your business will not stand strong during the storms that are certain to come without P&P.
Dennis W. Lejeck is the president and founder of Black Knight Security. Dennis is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence and has also participated in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® program.