Every day new cases of COVID-19 are being reported. In uncertain times like these it’s important to stay calm, exercise common sense, and follow good personal hygiene protocols.
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Prepare for COVID-19
It’s also important to pro-actively prepare for the virus impacting your business. Many business owners are already feeling an impact, either in the form of decreased sales, disrupted supply chains, or employees out sick.
A high number of the COVID-19 cases in the United States have occurred in the Seattle area. Seattle and King County Public Health recently released a flyer which does a good job of outlining how to prepare your business for a possible COVID-19 pandemic.
Documentation is Key
It’s important that you, as a business owner, understand the details of what each of your employees do. Cross-training and written instructions will enable you and your team to fill in for each other, regardless of who’s out sick. But what if you are the one out sick? How much information resides only in your head that your team needs in order to keep things running smoothly in your absence?
Let’s face it, documenting your business processes, tasks, and details has always been a good idea. Running the business out of your head makes it so much harder to standardize, train, delegate, and grow. And taking time off has a greater impact to your business, especially if you are feeling sick, exhausted, and trying to think through a fuzzy brain.
The recent spread of COVID-19 highlights the need to have this documentation in place. If you haven’t started documenting your business yet, now is a great time to start.
Good documentation is more than a brain dump, but having something written down is better than nothing. And, getting started isn’t always easy. So, I’ve created a list of seven basic steps to help you get going.
7 Steps to Get Started
Step 1: Pick a tool for writing
Most businesses already use Microsoft Word or Google Doc. Either will do as a basic tool for writing. Pick one and make it your standard for documentation. Switching software later can be time consuming and tedious.
Step 2: Choose a place to store it
Most businesses generally use DropBox or Google Drive for document storage and either is a fine choice. Both allow you to control access and both maintain a version history. Storing your hard work in the cloud keeps it safe from loss and provides a central place for everyone to have access.
Step 3: Outline your categories
Create a folder structure of high-level categories to match your business structure: Finance, Operations, Technology, etc. Create categories and subcategories that make sense to you. This will help you find information later and will also help you identify the different parts of your business that need documenting.
Step 4: Outline roles & responsibilities
List every role and the duties they are responsible for. The process, tasks, and details explain what needs to be done and how to do it. The roles and responsibilities tell you who does what.
Step 5: Start general and add detail
Start with the main points, then add the next level of information, and the next, and so on. Using headers to organize the information within each document will help you fill in the details and make it easier to use.
Step 6: Start with something easy
Pick a topic that you are familiar with and is easy to write about. Once you are warmed up, move on to capturing more complex information.
Step 7: Make time to work on it regularly
This will take time. Carving out even 20 to 30 minutes a day is good. Daily progress will build momentum and keep the momentum going.
Using these seven steps as a guide, you can start creating your documentation right away. I don’t mean to imply this is easy. Documenting your business takes time and effort and there are many considerations beyond what I have outlined here.
Basic documentation is a start. High quality documentation that your team will actually use needs to be easy-to-follow, reliably complete and correct, user-friendly in every way, and maintainable over time. If you haven’t yet documented the details of how your business runs, I hope you find these suggestions helpful to get you started.
If you’d like additional help getting started documenting your daily operations, roles & responsibilities, and other important details, or if you need in-depth support, or just want to find out more, book a free consultation. And, take this short survey to gain insights into your current state, and to receive a custom next step.