What are the three most important polices and procedures to have for your small business?
First of all what is a policy/procedure and why have them anyway?
Definitions according to the Cambridge Dictionary
As a small business or solopreneur, it is important to have clear policies in place to help your business run smoothly, provide clarity to your clients, and ensure that you are operating legally. It is also important to consult with legal and business professionals to ensure that your policies comply with the latest laws and regulations. Having clear policies in place can help you avoid potential legal issues, provide clarity to your clients, and help your business run smoothly.
So I think the most important ones for a small business are
- Disaster Recovery Plan or Business Continuity Plan.
- Terms and Conditions and scope of work with clients.
- Onboarding & Offboarding Policies & Procedures.
All of these may divide further down into subsections but were critical for me when I started my business 5 years ago and still are today. I wonder how many small businesses had no 1. when Covid 19 struck!
- Disaster Recovery Plan or Business Continuity Plan.
A disaster recovery plan/ continuity plan is a documented and structured approach that outlines how a business or organization will respond to an unexpected event that disrupts its normal operations. The goal of such a plan is to minimize the impact of the disaster on the business by establishing procedures for quickly resuming critical business operations and services.
Disasters can come in many forms, including natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, as well as human-made disasters like cyberattacks, power outages, and data breaches. A disaster recovery/business continuity plan outlines the steps that the business will take to recover from these types of disruptions.
The key components of a disaster recovery plan typically include:
- Business Impact Analysis: This is an assessment of the potential impact of a disaster on the business, including the financial and operational impacts.
- Risk Assessment: This is an evaluation of the potential risks that the business may face, including natural disasters, cyberattacks, and other potential disruptions.
- Recovery Strategies: This outlines the strategies that the business will use to recover from the disaster and resume operations, including backup and recovery of data and systems, alternative work locations, and communication plans.
- Plan Activation: This outlines the steps that the business will take to activate the disaster recovery plan, including who will be responsible for executing the plan and how they will be notified.
- Testing and Maintenance: This outlines the testing and maintenance procedures that the business will follow to ensure that the disaster recovery plan remains effective and up-to-date.
A disaster recovery / business continuity plan can help ensure that a business is able to recover quickly and efficiently from unexpected disruptions.
2. Terms and Conditions and scope of work with clients.
Terms and Conditions and Scope of Work are two important documents that help establish expectations and protect the interests of both parties when working with clients.
The Terms and Conditions outline the legal and contractual agreements between the business and the client, including payment terms, warranties, liability limitations, and intellectual property rights. They also specify the responsibilities of each party and the remedies available in case of a dispute.
The Scope of Work, on the other hand, is a detailed description of the services or products that the business will provide to the client. It includes a breakdown of the deliverables, timelines, milestones, and other relevant details that help define the project’s scope and objectives.
Both documents are essential for any business working with clients to ensure a clear understanding of expectations, timelines, and responsibilities. Here are some tips to consider when creating these documents:
- Be specific: Use clear, concise language to avoid any misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
- Include all relevant information: Ensure that all relevant information, such as pricing, deadlines, and payment terms, is included in the documents.
- Be transparent: Clearly outline any potential risks or limitations associated with the project to avoid any surprises or misunderstandings down the road.
- Review and update regularly: Review and update the documents regularly to ensure they reflect any changes in the project or business environment.
By creating clear and concise Terms and Conditions and Scope of Work documents, businesses can help ensure a smooth working relationship with their clients while protecting their interests and minimizing the risk of disputes or misunderstandings.
3. Onboarding & Offboarding Policies & Procedures.
Onboarding and offboarding are two critical processes for businesses that work with clients. Onboarding involves bringing new clients into the fold, while offboarding refers to the process of ending a relationship with a client. Here are some tips for effectively onboarding and offboarding clients:
- Establish clear communication channels: Ensure that you have established clear lines of communication with the client, including preferred methods of communication and how frequently you will be in touch.
- Set expectations: Clearly define the scope of work, project timelines, milestones, and any other relevant details upfront to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
- Provide a welcome package: Create a welcome package that includes relevant documents, contact information, and any other resources the client may need to get started.
- Assign a point of contact: Assign a specific point of contact for the client to facilitate communication and ensure that their needs are being met.
- Monitor progress: Regularly check in with the client to ensure that they are satisfied with the progress and that the project is on track.
- Provide notice: Give the client sufficient notice of the end of the project or relationship, including any final deliverables or timelines.
- Conduct an exit interview: Conduct an exit interview to gain feedback on the client’s experience and identify any areas for improvement.
- Provide final documents: Provide any final documents, including invoices, reports, and other deliverables, to the client.
- Transition ownership: If necessary, ensure that the client’s account or project is transitioned to another team member or service provider.
- Follow up: Follow up with the client after the relationship has ended to ensure that they are satisfied with the services provided and to maintain a positive relationship for potential future projects.
By effectively onboarding and offboarding clients, businesses can ensure a positive experience for the client and establish a foundation for future business relationships.
Of course, there are many other polices and procedures to put in place such as various HR policies ( including remote & flexible working), Social Media, Website policies and legals, Information Technology, Customer service, internal Standard Operating Procedures for tasks and processes, Health & Safety, Financial, Data Protection, CRMs and so the list goes on.
Make sure that you collate all the necessary information to compile these documents and get legal advice ( do not just copy a template from someone else of from the internet )
Make sure that you regularly update these documents and seek inputs from colleagues or advisors.
Ensure that the relevant people in your business have reviewed them,understand them and know where to access them when they need them.
If you need support with any of the above please do get in touch as I can help you with the three policies I found essential and or direct you to specialists in HR & Legals.