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Setting Standards Operating Procedure to Increase Efficiency For Your Business

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Setting Standards Operating Procedure to Increase Efficiency For Your Business - Emmanuel Otori

Author: Emmanuel Otori

“Organizations cannot experience sustained growth until they make set of standards to guide their operations”

 

What Are Standard Operating Procedures?

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a detailed and systemized instruction that is expressed in a step-by-step sequence on how the roles of employees should be carried out. A standard operating procedure is usually created by the employer in order to create a company culture that transcends individual differences in carrying out activities related to business and office management.

 

The Need For A Standard Operating Procedure?

  • A standard operating procedure ensures that a businesscan be successful since it operates with precision, accuracy and uniformity while working across different stakeholder segments of the business.
  • When regulatory agencies visit an organizationand realize there is a standard operating procedure at work, it sends a positive image of control and proper management of activities.
  • It serves as the foundation of a good quality management system, such that an organization can become responsive when an error occurs, therefore making the ability to get back on track feasible.

 

Most small businesses are run in an informal manner regardless of the number of years, how much they have grown or the number of resources invested in them. Inasmuch as it is normal most organizations set their vision to become №1 in their industry and grow their businesses through the ranks from a brick and mortar business to a medium sized organization or conglomerate, it should be considered that only systems make organizations to serve the different the kind of people that come into it, and this is not to resent individuals with great talent who make immense contribution to delivering value in these organizations but that the organization takes the discipline to put a system in place and refine it as they grow, this compels team members to share in this generally accepted standard that the organization is trying to put in place. A number of processes are examined to fine tune what is expected in an ideal organization

 

Areas Standard Operating Procedures Are Applied

  1. Cloud Storage of Electronic Documents

While different organizations have procedures for saving electronic documents. An easy to use general procedure is to create a folder that holds electronic documents for a month, this monthly folder is then embedded with weekly folders to save activities done for the week and the weekly folder has daily folders to save activities done for the day. Each folder will contain a set of specific documents, images or visuals saved with the name of the document or client’s name and date. This allows for easy referencing. The folder is then uploaded to the cloud or saved in a hard disk.

  1. Receiving and Answering Calls

Imagine an organization where there is no procedure for answering and receiving calls, without initiative on the part of the handler of the device, it appears to anyone like a chit chat which from a distance can be observed by the person at the other end. A recommendation that provides flexibility is as follows

Good afternoon Sir/Ma,

I am XYZ, the customer centre head

How may I help you?

The outline here for calls is to accord the client or prospect with the level of respect regardless of their age and only call them by their name if they only ask to be called by their nomenclature. While all the information that is being requested by a customer may not be available at hand while the call is ongoing, it is important to let them know that you would return the call when you gathered further information, in order to prevent informing the customer wrongly and misrepresenting the organization.

  1. Choosing a font style and size in every document

An organization has to be seen as one with whoever it is having business dealings with and one way to show uniformity is in the preparation of documents that are either for use within the organization or one to be sent out

Font Size: Georgia

Font size: 12

Line spacing: Double line spacing

  1. Document format

Some documents are sent out in an editable format and because these can easily get exposed to viruses, might make the client go through the stress of getting to open the said file. A PDF (Portable Digital Format) document is what is recommended as it doesn’t lose its authenticity from whichever platform it is sent online.

These sets of operating procedures as simple as they are can save an organization from acting randomly and bring about cohesion and a sense of accountability in following such principles.

  1. Procurement

For an organization to make procurements especially private organization, it is necessary that the store manager communicates a depletion in the specific item by sending a notification through the procurement officer to the manager, the manager then passes same to the accounts officer to verify the duration for the depletion of the item is as specified before requesting for a list of eligible vendors to generate an invoice for the items requested. Funds will be transferred to the vendor and upon confirmation by the vendor; the item is released with a receipt as evidence of payment. The procurement manager then upon delivery ascertains that the item requested is exactly what was purchased; he then sends it to the stock through the store keeper who enters this as a new stock.

 

An organization depending on the culture they intend to build can create procedures that work in order to ensure accuracy and avoid duplicity of procedures initiated without authorization from the management.

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How Storytelling Can Support Your Pitch to Investors

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Author: Emmanuel Otori

There are a number of reasons a business needs investments, these investments could be in the pre-seed, Series A or B and regardless of whatever stage the business is operating, the major reason for seeking investor’s funding is usually for expansion purposes. This expansion could be in the line of products or the need to serve more customers in their growing numbers due to exponential demands in other regions.

 

Why Storytelling?

Storytelling has been found to be an underlying magic when pitching to investors and while I suggest that the stories should be genuine and linked to why a business eventually took off because the founder was trying to solve a challenge, it also has to be told with clarity and does not negate the fact that Primary Market Research (PMR) should have been done to ascertain that there is a good number of prospective customers that are in need of such solutions, to justify not just based on assumption that it is needed by one person, then there might be a market.

Supporting Start-up Founders With Their Pitch Deck

I had the opportunity to mentor 10 Nigerian start-ups to be attending GITEX in Dubai where they would have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors. I worked alongside with the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to help structure their pitch decks to meet up to the acceptable standards

The Pitch Structure

The pitch deck structure while different in the pieces put together as template by different organizations, still has the most essential ingredients in similarity to answer the questions in the minds of investors

 

These items in a pitch deck should be on each slide

  1. Cover Page

The cover page is a basic design that captures what the organization does. Usually the logo of the organization and the byline which serves as their value proposition to clients. The cover page should be very simple in design and text.

  1. Introduction

The introduction slide focuses on what introduced the problems and solution; It is the executive summary of what is to be expressed in the rest of the pitch desk. All the parts in a pitch deck should follow a simple rule “less is more”. The Pitch deck should have very limited words and portrays clarity.

  1. Problems

State the problems in very few sentences to capture what represents the current state of affairs as the challenges is concerned, bullet-points can also be used. Stating between 1-3 problems would serve this purpose.

  1. Solutions

The solution slides need to state the functions of your product or service as it addresses the problems you have stated. Try not to get into mentioning features as what is important here is how your product will benefit customers.

  1. Product Demo

If you are making a physical presentation, your product demo should be in a video of 30 seconds or less about how your product or service functions to provide the solution. If you do not have a video, then a pictorial view of images can also be used to represent this.

  1. Market Size

There are two approaches which are the top down or bottom up approaches. The top down approach is to find out the size of the market and how much of that size you think you can capture. I think the top down helps to be more realistic as what you hope to capture can either be expressed in years or in the lifetime of the business.

  1. Business Model

What would your business model be? Are your products going to sell for a particular price, would it be one that customers have to subscribe weekly, monthly or daily? This is what your business model represents. Some social media platform runs on a fermium model where users do not pay to use such platforms; however the platform then makes money from advertisers wanting to gain visibility from these number of users for their products or services.

  1. Competition

      List your competitors whether they are direct or indirect and mention how you are better than them. For example, the indirect competitor for carbonated drink is water and most bottling companies have succeeded in making their products a unique alternative to water by serving a refreshing taste. Mention here where makes you stand out.

  1. Go-to-Market

            When you launch a new product, it is necessary that a market plan exists; it helps to answer the question of how you would acquire customers. What steps are you going to take for customers to engage you? Would you have direct markets, use radio or television, social media, sponsored adverts, print etc to reach out to your targets.

  1. Team

      Your team information should display competence. Most start-ups have the product developer and the marketing officer. This can be seen in the likes of companies like Apple where Steve Jobs is the Chief Marketing Officer with communication prowess and ability to get customers to buy while Steve Wozniack was the developer. 2-3 team members can be the founder or co-founder and launch the start-up and add other team members as the organization grows.

 

  1. Milestones

Investors only want to make a contribution because they look forward to returns on their investment (RoI), no investor is your friend. Here is the section to show you already have traction in the form of partnerships, number of downloads and most importantly that you generate consistent cash flow and serving a good number of customers

  1. Fundraising Information

How much funding would you need and in what ways are you going to apply the funding you get and what this funding injection would generate within a specific timeframe. These are question you want to answer in this slide. Funding is usually needed for operational costs such as rent, staff salaries, and acquisition of office equipment, licenses or certifications and many more depending on the needs at the moment.

While receiving funding for your business is a great move, it can also lead to the death of start-ups as initial exposure to huge funding without experience or ability to have managed such funding could lead to instant gratification and reason why some start-ups have raised funding but are not profitable.

I suggest that a business proves through their financial statement to be profitable enough before seeking for funding in order to grow a sustainable business model.

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Columns

How Storytelling Can Support Your Pitch to Investors

Published

on

Setting Standards Operating Procedure to Increase Efficiency For Your Business - Emmanuel Otori

Author: Emmanuel Otori

There are a number of reasons a business needs investments, these investments could be in the pre-seed, Series A or B and regardless of whatever stage the business is operating, the major reason for seeking investor’s funding is usually for expansion purposes. This expansion could be in the line of products or the need to serve more customers in their growing numbers due to exponential demands in other regions.

Why Storytelling?

Storytelling has been found to be an underlying magic when pitching to investors and while I suggest that the stories should be genuine and linked to why a business eventually took off because the founder was trying to solve a challenge, it also has to be told with clarity and does not negate the fact that Primary Market Research (PMR) should have been done to ascertain that there is a good number of prospective customers that are in need of such solutions, to justify not just based on assumption that it is needed by one person, then there might be a market.

Supporting Start-up Founders With Their Pitch Deck

I had the opportunity to mentor 10 Nigerian start-ups to be attending GITEX in Dubai where they would have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors. I worked alongside with the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to help structure their pitch decks to meet up to the acceptable standards

The Pitch Structure

The pitch deck structure while different in the pieces put together as template by different organizations, still has the most essential ingredients in similarity to answer the questions in the minds of investors

 

These items in a pitch deck should be on each slide

  1. Cover Page

The cover page is a basic design that captures what the organization does. Usually the logo of the organization and the byline which serves as their value proposition to clients. The cover page should be very simple in design and text.

  1. Introduction

The introduction slide focuses on what introduced the problems and solution; It is the executive summary of what is to be expressed in the rest of the pitch desk. All the parts in a pitch deck should follow a simple rule “less is more”. The Pitch deck should have very limited words and portrays clarity.

  1. Problems

State the problems in very few sentences to capture what represents the current state of affairs as the challenges is concerned, bullet-points can also be used. Stating between 1-3 problems would serve this purpose.

  1. Solutions

The solution slides need to state the functions of your product or service as it addresses the problems you have stated. Try not to get into mentioning features as what is important here is how your product will benefit customers.

  1. Product Demo

If you are making a physical presentation, your product demo should be in a video of 30 seconds or less about how your product or service functions to provide the solution. If you do not have a video, then a pictorial view of images can also be used to represent this.

  1. Market Size

There are two approaches which are the top down or bottom up approaches. The top down approach is to find out the size of the market and how much of that size you think you can capture. I think the top down helps to be more realistic as what you hope to capture can either be expressed in years or in the lifetime of the business.

  1. Business Model

What would your business model be? Are your products going to sell for a particular price, would it be one that customers have to subscribe weekly, monthly or daily? This is what your business model represents. Some social media platform runs on a fermium model where users do not pay to use such platforms; however the platform then makes money from advertisers wanting to gain visibility from these number of users for their products or services.

  1. Competition

      List your competitors whether they are direct or indirect and mention how you are better than them. For example, the indirect competitor for carbonated drink is water and most bottling companies have succeeded in making their products a unique alternative to water by serving a refreshing taste. Mention here where makes you stand out.

  1. Go-to-Market

            When you launch a new product, it is necessary that a market plan exists; it helps to answer the question of how you would acquire customers. What steps are you going to take for customers to engage you? Would you have direct markets, use radio or television, social media, sponsored adverts, print etc to reach out to your targets.

  1. Team

      Your team information should display competence. Most start-ups have the product developer and the marketing officer. This can be seen in the likes of companies like Apple where Steve Jobs is the Chief Marketing Officer with communication prowess and ability to get customers to buy while Steve Wozniack was the developer. 2-3 team members can be the founder or co-founder and launch the start-up and add other team members as the organization grows.

 

  1. Milestones

Investors only want to make a contribution because they look forward to returns on their investment (RoI), no investor is your friend. Here is the section to show you already have traction in the form of partnerships, number of downloads and most importantly that you generate consistent cash flow and serving a good number of customers

  1. Fundraising Information

How much funding would you need and in what ways are you going to apply the funding you get and what this funding injection would generate within a specific timeframe. These are question you want to answer in this slide. Funding is usually needed for operational costs such as rent, staff salaries, and acquisition of office equipment, licenses or certifications and many more depending on the needs at the moment.

While receiving funding for your business is a great move, it can also lead to the death of start-ups as initial exposure to huge funding without experience or ability to have managed such funding could lead to instant gratification and reason why some start-ups have raised funding but are not profitable.

I suggest that a business proves through their financial statement to be profitable enough before seeking for funding in order to grow a sustainable business model.

Emmanuel Otori has over 9 years of experience working with 100 start-ups and SMEs across Nigeria. He has worked on the Growth and Employment (GEM) Project of the World Bank, Consulted for businesses at the Abuja Enterprise Agency, Novustack, Splitspot and NITDA.

He is the Chief Executive Officer at Abuja Data School.

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Columns

How Start-ups Can Leverage 360 Degrees Marketing Techniques To Increase Sales

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Setting Standards Operating Procedure to Increase Efficiency For Your Business - Emmanuel Otori

Author: Emmanuel Otori

Sales are a determinant of whether a business would survive or not. The life blood of every business is embedded in the day-to-day activities that can generate consistent cash flow. Some organizations get caught up in trying to do many things are at time which makes their progression towards activities that contributes to their down line flawed and is visible in the finances of the organizations. Organizations are not necessarily alarmed until there is a sharp drop in revenue; however a sharp drop in revenue is only an indication of many other factors beyond what has been observed. This revenue drop is a symptom that some core activities are ailing such as staff retention, customer service, lack of repeat sale, poor product management, unclear definitions of target market, lack of promotional.

If sale is consistent, a business can survive the most difficult phases as cash flow is directly linked to the overall activities.

The most important question to ask then is “how can more sales be made”? Without asking this question, the business risks every other form of major distraction.

 

The 360 degrees Marketing Technique

 

The 360 degrees marketing techniques are sometimes called Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). These techniques are a mix of several activities that organizations are engaged in to increase awareness about a product or services. The perception of visibility by a customer over a long period of time consistently makes a brand become a sort of inevitable to a customer whenever they need to make a purchasing decision as the brand is the first to come to mind due to the number of exposures they have had with the prospect and vice-versa.

 

  1. Email Marketing

Email is one of the easiest and fastest ways to reach a large audience and when properly deployed has the potential to create a consistent stream of customers, as it takes the form of a closed user group through reception of newsletters by the customers and overtime a relationship is built through readership as audience are regularly updated about eh activities of the organization or products and services.

Email Marketing also helps to create some form of targets as there are metrics that could show who reads a particular newsletter and how many times. Observing the behaviour of the readers and the type of content they are reading could initiate a purchase decision by offering a product that compliments what they read.

 

  1. Blogging

Blogging is similar to email marketing, but while email marketing is only sent to subscribers or users generated through a third party, blogging reaches out to all possible audiences that are online and serves as a tool to consistently inform customers about the product, services or activities of a business. Regular blogging should average up to 3-5 blog posts weekly to make conversions; this done over a period of 6 months is a guarantee for increased sales.

 

  1. Granting Media Interviews

As much as the new media is emerging greatly, the traditional media still holds a sit in the preference of most audience and ability to use these tools such as television, radio and print media is key to reach a lot of people. The conversations on these platforms creates a direct connection with the listeners as it is visual and ability to see the person being interviewed as they share industry based experience makes them look to most audience like a thought leader. This done over time would make such personality become a face and voice in their sector.

 

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization is arguably the first on the list of all techniques as it reduces the time, effort and energy to directly reach out to the prospective customers. SEO guarantees that prospects can easily find an offer and make a purchase decision as it places a brand right where the audience is seeking answers. Sales are also made round the clock with no limitation of where the customer buys from.

 

  1. Networking

Getting exposure as a Founder for your business is necessary to build a personal brand first, as this benefit extends to a business brand as trust can easily be built when people can interact with the owner of the business. A core part of business visibility is to ensure that a business owner continuously puts themselves out there as many times as possible, and this consistency overtime is able to drastically build loyalty right from the onset and sales.

While there are many other techniques in addition to the ones mentioned, engaging in one or more of these activities has the potential to increase the revenue base of the business and reachability.

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