TMBA 157 (LBP134) – If It Makes You Money, You Shouldn’t Be Doing It (The SOP Episode)

TMBA 157 (LBP134) – If It Makes You Money, You Shouldn’t Be Doing It (The SOP Episode) post image

Almost back in Bali! Ian’s heading to join Dan in Bali in just a few days for the end of the year. They’re going to take a look back at their businesses in 2012 and look forward at how to grow their businesses in 2013.

They’ve realized that in order to continue to scale, they need to get even more focused on creating documentation and standards of procedure. They took a look at the literature and brought their experience from their e-commerce company together to bring you a step-by-step guide to start creating SOPs that let you save your profits right out of the gate.

SOP Save Our Profits

  • What pilots can teach business owners about systems.
  • Why all entrepreneurs (even solopreneurs) need to create SOPs.
  • The step-by-step guide to start creating processes that scale in your business today.
  • How to know what aspects of your business are ready to be turned into SOPs and which aren’t.
  • Why having clear processes improves your relationship with employees.


Just The Tips

The Jam

Get Your Voice On The LBP
  • Leave us a message. It’s easy to do, and if you mess up, you can easily edit your message until you are ready to send it our way.

Have fun. Leave a comment. Go make it happen! :)

Episode length: 28:51


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Published on 12.20.12
  • Samuel Woods

    Love it, as per usual. Few questions, biggest one: how granular should you be? I’m sure that depends, but what’s the risk of being too granular, as making the process a bit too stiff to be adaptive to changing conditions?

    Like, really, you could get lost in the details.

  • Richard Hanley Jr.

    If it makes you happy, you SHOULD be doing it :)

  • James Schramko

    good standard operating procedures grow businesses

  • John McIntyre

    Hell yeah! We talked about Work The System back in PG. I’ve been these ideas on a personal level too. You’ve mentioned “decision making glucose” before.

    I’ve scripted out the better part of my day, and it saves that precious decision making glucose. When I wake up in the morning, I have a set routine, broken down to 15 minute blocks. I wake up and execute on the system. The rest of the day follows a similar structure, but it’s not broken into 15 minute blocks.

    Same goes for health/diet stuff, and relationships.

    Another way I frame it up is as automated decision-making.

  • Jeremy

    Did any one watch the Felix Baumgartner jump recently? He went through hours and hours of systems checks and count downs up until the moment he lept off the deck.

  • Grant Merriel

    Awesome cool cats! Went to go and buy some Yerba Mate and it’s darn well $33.00 to deliver a box of 25 bags to Australia ($6.95 for the box) – might need to find a replacement for the Guayaki, might stick to my Ginseng for the time being.
    In regards to the SOP, the best tool I’ve found and am using (sorry BaseCamp) – YES! It’s FREE!!! – (no affiliate) Can create checklists and add images for SOP’s that are just that little bit hard to describe in words. Similar to Google Docs, I actually let the team provide updates and alterations to it and then I just review their steps.
    Would love to know how your SOP’s go with ‘IF this then ‘X’ or if not then ‘y” SOP’s, s that’s the ONE thing I have trouble with outlining.
    Anyways guys, keep it rocking and love everything you do!

  • Steven Moody

    Your best episode of the year.

    Similar to Ian’s mention of boredom, a lot of entrepreneurs avoid this because it feels like being in a corporate job. Key is to think of these SOPs as what someone else will do versus what you’re making yourself do.

  • Dan

    hah cheers yeah Trello is the bomb! I prefer Google docs but can se it’s value.

  • Dan

    no, but that makes all kinds of sense to me.

  • Dan

    yeah buddy.

  • Dan

    i think the best heuristic is: could a smart person off the street do it?

  • Dan

    X10 !!! :D

  • Dan

    Thanks Steven I appreciate that!

    This rabbit hole goes so deep. It’s obviousness is only matched by it’s power. I’m very fascinated to continue this discussion with you in person. Talk soon!

  • Ian

    Grant, we go through a local beverage distributor and get the stuff for about 1.5$ a bottle! Only thing is we have to order 100$ at a time!

  • Melissa Shanhun

    Great podcast I am totally doing this, by I dither about whether to put everything in one doc or a certain doc for each task. Great stuff but OMG I didn’t realise you guys say process*eeees* rather than *pro*cesses. I think I might just have to go listen to some Rolf Harris now :)

  • Grant Merriel

    Cheers Ian, I actually got onto a lovely lady called Veronica there who is giving me a hand to see if we can’t do better shipping prices to Australia, so I will let you know how I go.
    Great episode guys!
    Would still love to hear your opinions on formatting ‘if not this – then that’ SOP’s.

  • Cam Collins

    Ha…great timing on this for me. I got my team together two weeks ago and talked about 2013 goals. One of the big ones for us is refining and improving our SOPs and holding team members (me included) accountable. We’ve gotten lazy and what I’ve noticed is that ambiguity breeds inefficiencies which saps productivity.

  • Cam Collins

    Great concept John. I’ve been pushing myself to get certain things done on a particular day broken down by function. But I noticed ToDos getting pushed from day to day. Deciding “what” to do is only half of the process, the “when” must be planned for as well.

    Just picked up Work the System and loving it…

  • Dan

    true story! found that the more creative and energetic people are (the people who you’d expect not to like this kind of thing) respond excellently– they like to reserve their energy for the stuff that counts.

  • Donny Perry

    Hey guys, great episode. What are the chances you’d be willing to share your how-to-run-a-podcast checklist?

  • DT

    Another great episode Dan and Ian. Just wanted to point out another book that nobody mentioned, but very relevant to the topic of setting up SOPs and checklists. It is The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. Great book with lots of examples from Aviation and Healthcare industries in particular.


  • Dan

    Thanks DT. Checking it out na.

  • Dan

    I think Taylor posted it in the DC. Send an email to

  • Dan

    The English language cries every time there is anew LBP

  • Rob Hanly.

    Yo Grant. For Yerba: check out local organic stores. Single packs available, and you might be able to get them to +1 order for you.

    Took me way too long to figure this out when I came back to Australia.

  • Rob Hanly.

    Killer episode. Glad I got to it, and loved it.

    A couple of years ago I built out process for the company I was with. It did the micro (each granular step) to the macro (entire work flow across departments). Here’s a couple of the things that ended up being put in to save time and money.

    1. Remove multiple touch points.
    Wherever possible, a person’s actions should be ‘one and done’. Only hand it off when you have done everything you can possibly do to the task. This stops footballing, ego stroking and time waste.

    Example: Sales team used to communicate with clients through the creative process. It added at least an extra day to the back and forth. We moved them to sale closers only, cut them out of the direct creative execution process (but kept them cc’d) and bought ourselves a day on deliverables.

    2. Templates. Templates everywhere.
    PSDs, Emails, Checklists, Reports, Calendars, Basecamp Projects, etc etc. It was little, but it turned 10+ setup process steps into 1 that was guaranteed perfect. Saved massive amounts of time.

    Example: For each stage of the sale & design process, there was an email and document template. For the emails, we used merge tags (eg [CLIENT*NAME] ) that would be find/replaced out.

    3. Find the best performers. Make them into templates. Sell them as products.
    If you do a lot of variable creative work, find the best 3 performers for core metrics (click through rate, EPC, opens, conversions, whatever). Find out why it performs. Test what metrics make it perform the best (size/colour/offer position/call to action).

    Then turn it into an ‘off the shelf’ product with clear restrictions and sell the shit out of it. You’ve got the template set up, the checklist for a client and it’s a plug and play affair.

    4. Clear time deadlines.
    When I started, it was in a juniour role with a friend of mine as the Art Director. We’d turn around the creative process in about ~4hrs. When a few new hires were brought on 6 months later, the turn around process blew out by double.

    We found that a tight deadline of 6hrs max, with one hour skill training time per week, worked. It cut back our deliverables to the point where we could safely budget 5 hours and be ahead on most occasions.

    5. Ritualise it, and indoctrinate everyone.
    The process was launched at a ‘I Got 99 Problems, But A Process Ain’t One’ meeting. Everyone who came got a copy of:
    » Workflow
    » Outcomes at each stage
    » Checklists for each stage
    » Instructions for each stage
    » Timelines for each stage
    » Key stakeholder for each stage

    As a result, everyone knew what everyone was doing, and when they were doing it. Anyone who tried to step around the process was pulled back into line, because they endangered everyone’s work and outcome.

    Here’s the best part, though.

    Scripting out everything allowed me to put the business arm I worked in on autopilot for myself. I could hypothetically have taken a sick day and checked email twice, and my outcomes would have been the same as if I’d stayed in the office.

    Why? Because delegating and systemising was awesome.

  • Rob Hanly.
  • Dan

    I enjoy it when you blog out the comments sir ! :D We are doing exactly this with our new biz and I couldn’t be happier with the amount of effort we’ve put it to it (minimal…. just writing down what we are doing) vs. the returns we’ve seen from doing it.

  • Rob Hanly.

    Sir, aaah say sir. Cool to hear the results, would love to see a few of your other SOPs when you guys are comfortable sharing them.

  • Rob Hanly.

    When the conditions change, the process would change. Working backwards from goals (outcomes) to steps helps.

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  • Shola Abidoye

    Can you bookmark a comment? Excellent, value-driven comment here!

  • Joshua Kwentoh

    Love you guys.. Brotherly and Business LOVE :) F%&K it you guys are totally awesome.. So much love your way

  • Dan

    :D thanks man !

  • Andrea

    Thanks for the link to Sam Carpenter’s Mixergy interivew!

  • Toffler

    Were you going to link up some examples of SODs & SOPs? Or the templates that you guys use? Am I just overlooking them?

  • Dan Andrews
  • Tony

    Great information here. I love this site and all of the podcast. My go to podcast for my long drives in the car. We liked it so much we posted a link on our site.

  • danny Match

    Big fan of both the podcast & Yerba Mate.

    SOP’s enable you to delegate. Sounds simple but its important to stress this concept. It seems like you guys don’t have any trouble delegating tasks. However, if others in this community are like me then delegating is a major struggle. Creating a solopreneur business from scratch necessitates that the individual have an attention to detail & be-self motivated. However when it comes time to give up a piece of this business it can be super hard. I know I need to delegate but its hard to let go! I think creating the SOP is the first step.

    One of my passion websites is: Its a community focused entirely on the good stuff, Yerba Mate. After living in Brazil for years I got hooked on this stuff. If others in the community are interested in finding brand recommendations and recipes check out the site. And quit buying bottled or canned Guayaki – make them yourselves, its healthier & cheaper.

    P.S. pronunciation guide – ‘ Gway-uh-kee ‘ ‘Yer-bah Mah-tay’

    Cheers amigos!

  • Dan Andrews

    cheers thanks for that! good luck with the SOPs! :D

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