Mastering Operations: A Guide to Creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Small Businesses

Mastering Operations: A Guide to Creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Small Businesses

An SOP is a detailed, step-by-step guide to completing a task. Like those crucial IKEA instructions, it ensures everyone involved knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Brandon F.
Chief Expozeur Officer

September 2, 2023


Ever tried building IKEA furniture without the step-by-step instructions? The confusion, errors, and inefficiency can be mind-boggling. Similarly, for small businesses aiming for growth and efficiency, having a Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP, is an absolute necessity.

An SOP is a detailed, step-by-step guide to completing a task. Like those crucial IKEA instructions, it ensures everyone involved knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

In this article, we delve deep into the realm of SOPs. We discuss their importance for small businesses, outline a five-step process for creating your own SOP, and give a practical example: creating an SOP for producing a blog post.

Why Your Small Business Needs SOPs

Small businesses (and especially large or enterprise businesses!) need SOPs for the same reason anyone trying to assemble furniture needs instructions. They guide actions, ensure consistency, and save time. Here are the key benefits of having SOPs in place:

  • Standardization: SOPs provide a standard way of doing things, reducing confusion and errors.
  • Efficiency: SOPs provide clear instructions eliminate guesswork, reducing wasted time and increasing productivity.
  • Quality: SOPs ensure tasks are carried out correctly, improving the quality of your output.
  • Training: SOPs are an invaluable tool when training new staff, providing a clear and consistent way of learning tasks.
  • Scalability: SOPs make it easier for businesses to scale their operations as they grow.

Crafting Your SOP: A Five-Step Process

Creating an SOP may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here's a simple five-step process to get you started:

1. Identify the Procedure

The first step is identifying which process needs an SOP. Choose a task that is performed frequently and is crucial for your business. In our case, let's consider the process of creating a blog post for your business website.

2. Define the Objective

Next, define the goal of the SOP. What are you trying to achieve? For our blog post SOP, the objective could be: "To regularly produce high-quality, engaging blog posts that enhance our business's online presence and engage our audience."

3. Detail the Procedure

Now it's time to get into the nitty-gritty of the task. Write down each step of the procedure, in order, in a clear and concise way. It's useful to involve the people who perform the task regularly as they'll have practical insights.

Creating a blog post might involve steps like:

  1. Topic Selection: Choose a topic relevant to your audience and business.
  2. Research: Gather information about the topic.
  3. Outline: Create a basic structure for the blog post.
  4. Writing: Write the blog post, following the outline.
  5. Editing: Review the post for clarity, grammar, and relevance.
  6. Approval: Have the post reviewed and approved by a designated approver.
  7. Publication: Once approved, publish the post on your business's blog.

4. Review and Test the Procedure

After writing the SOP, it's time to test it. Have a small group of employees follow the SOP to create a blog post. Gather their feedback. Was the SOP clear? Were they able to follow it easily? Did it help them produce a quality blog post?

5. Implement and Monitor the Procedure

Finally, share the SOP with all relevant employees. Ensure they understand it and follow it. Over time, regularly review and update the SOP as necessary to reflect any changes in the task or improvements in the process.

A Case Study: Creating a Blog Post

Let's delve deeper into our example SOP: creating a blog post.

Step 1: Topic Selection

The writer, in consultation with a supervisor, chooses a topic that aligns with the business's content strategy. The topic must be relevant to the audience and serve the business's marketing objectives.

Step 2: Research

The writer conducts thorough research on the topic. They gather information, find reputable sources, and study competitors' content on the same topic.

Step 3: Outline

The writer creates an outline for the blog post. This includes the introduction, main points, and conclusion. The outline serves as a roadmap for the blog post.

Step 4: Writing

Following the outline, the writer crafts the blog post. They ensure it aligns with the business's tone and style.

Step 5: Editing

The writer reviews the post for clarity, grammar, and punctuation. They make sure the post flows well and that the information is accurate and relevant.

Step 6: Approval

The writer submits the blog post to a designated approver - this could be a supervisor or a senior team member. The approver reviews the post and either approves it for publication or sends it back for revisions.

Step 7: Publication

Once approved, the blog post is published on the business's blog. It's then promoted on social media and other marketing channels as per the business's content distribution strategy.

In this manner, an SOP for blog post creation ensures a smooth, efficient workflow from topic selection to publication. It provides clarity for everyone involved and ensures each blog post meets the same high standard.


SOPs are much more than just instructions. They're the roadmap to efficiency and consistency in your small business operations. Just as you wouldn't try to build IKEA furniture without the instructions, you shouldn't try to run your business without SOPs. Take the time to develop clear, detailed SOPs for your key tasks, and you'll reap the benefits in increased productivity, quality, and scalability.

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