TRANSCRIPT: eComm Weekly – EP21: How to build a business that runs itself



I love. SOP’s. In fact, back in the day, back in the late eighties and early nineties, um, I had a business that was just going crazy and it was unruly and I couldn’t manage the growth. I mean, I could be working 25 hours a day and I could not do it. Uh, what I was able to do.

Is, I was, uh, I took a course and it was Michael Gerber’s, the E-Myth academy. And it literally changed my life. I’m not pitching anything, but that is the book. You can still get it called the. Uh, E-Myth revisited. I think it’s called now, but what it allows us to do, like all of us are [00:01:00] entrepreneurs and all of us have this passion about growing our business and we work our business so much that all of a sudden you run out of time and you hire somebody.

And so you hire somebody, but you don’t have the time to spend with the person. To train them properly. And what ends up happening is over the period of the next month or so you fire them, you get frustrated, they can’t do the job as well as you do. And you let them go. This is called a sales rollercoaster.

You take back all the tasks because you think that you’re the only person that can do this properly. And then. It’s the same thing. You’ll hire somebody. And all of a sudden that sales roller coaster happens. It, you try to, to train somebody just on the fly and you just don’t do it properly. So until I read the E-Myth, [00:02:00] um, the, the E-Myth and then went through the academy, all of a sudden I took this unruly business and was able to streamline it where I could live in.

Take off for a couple of months or not a couple of months, a couple of weeks or three weeks. And the business ran itself. And any of the people that were in the business, we had SLPs that they could cover off because we want it to promote a healthy business environment. And so, Hey, look, if you could get down to four days a week, Take the Friday off, spend it with your family.

And that happened, all of a sudden people were taking the Fridays or the Mondays off, and they were still getting paid for 40 hours. That was the beauty of it. So this is one of the reasons why I love, uh, systems automation, SLPs. Some people call them policies and procedures, which is a little bit different.

But anyways, we do have an expert. I see he’s here now, then. Hey, how are you? Hey, Hey, what’s up everyone. [00:03:00] You have any worried there? It was strange. Like I tried to come in, uh, well, I’m actually down in cover right now and I tried to join clubhouse on like the wifi on my, from my Airbnb. And it kind of looked like the app was down.

Um, but, uh, I came in on my, on my LTE and it said it’s working fine, so well, you know, just happy that you can join us. Uh, so I’m excited. But, you know, we’ve talked before on my podcast. My podcast is called lunch with Norman it’s. Uh, it’s. It makes e-commerce sellers better e-commerce sellers. And we have an a on a little while ago, and it was one of our most downloaded podcasts.

There were. So I think as an entrepreneur, Uh, if you’re trying to get into e-commerce, there’s nothing more important than what we’re going to talk about today. Other than capitalization, if you don’t have the systems in place, you’ll never have a [00:04:00] break, you’ll be a slave to your business and it can be a horrible experience.

So then I, why don’t we just talk about a little bit about what you do and, uh, we’ll talk a bit about the app towards the end, but the importance of SOP. Sure. Yeah. Well, um, you know, I’m, I’m gonna, I’m the CEO of process street, which we call a modern process management platform that lets you document automate and iterate on your processes.

So you can kind of build a business just like norm discussed. Um, and I think that, uh, yeah, to, to, to Nolan’s point, you know, the two, the two areas that we’ve, that we kind of point to is, um, really important, uh, Areas of your business. Do you want to have processes or like things if you want to achieve or like one growth?

So if you want to be able to scale your organization, which usually requires scaling processes, you know, customers, processes and people, um, or two, if you want to [00:05:00] actually be able to step away from your business and essentially invest less of your time into the business and have it run more on autopilot, uh, processes are very useful there as well.

And if you do have a business that. Um, set up to run without requiring the owner to be there all the time. Uh, obviously there’s all sorts of lifestyle benefits there, but it also actually becomes a much more attractive. Um, acquisition opportunity for, uh, investors as well, because they don’t want to buy a business where it’s super in twined with the founder, because they want to basically be able to separate it from the founder and run it independently.

So, yeah, bro, like if you basically, you know, there are no real successful scale of businesses that don’t have a good grasp on their processes. It’s a requirement to either grow or build a sellable scout stable.[00:06:00] 

I have my mute button. I’m such an amateur when it comes to this. No one was saying what I was saying is, um, alright. If you’re new date, Where do you start with SOP? Uh, well, if you’re new and you’re just kind of getting out it’s we kind of talked about this on the podcast a little bit, but it’s, it’s all about getting that revenue in the door, right?

That’s where you want to focus from from day one, because to be able to invest into say a technology and automation or people, and you need capital, you need cashflow to build. So the area that I always recommended, it’s not just e-commerce, but any, any kind of business owner is, um, go to the area that’s closest to the money.

So, um, the processes that are gonna enable you to get, uh, [00:07:00] generate more customers or extract more revenue from those customers, that’s where I’d be focusing on making sure those are working and the money is flowing in. Um, and then that gives you more resources to be able to solve the other types of processes that you might have around internal operations.

Okay. Very good. Now, one of the things that helped me out when I was setting up my, in my first SOP was, you know, it was, there was so many and this is going to sound crazy. Anybody who’s listening is going to be thinking, I’m just like, I’m, I’m just pulling their leg. But we started with a coffee process, how to make coffee.

It’s it is a five page SOP that everybody in the office had to buy in. And it was absolutely shocking putting this together. And now the guys that are just rolling their eyes and, you know, just bear with me. We got together, there was 23 of us in a [00:08:00] boardroom sitting around and everybody is just hating me for having them sit around, talking about a coffee process.

You know, who makes the coffee? Where’s the coffee, how much coffee do I make? All these processes started to, or all these questions started to be asked. And at the end of the day, we found out that it was important and we had an active boardroom customers would come in at the time the coffee would be burnt or there wasn’t any on, by the time they got their coffee, it would be left or other employees would go and grab a cup of coffee, but they were ticked off because there was nothing on.

And then how do you make the right cup of coffee? Some people like to express. So some people liked water in a drop of coffee. Where do you get the supplies? When do I order supplies? And that was our start. And then what we did from that is we broke out and we quantified, you know, uh, who was making the coffee.

First person in the office made the coffee. So we knew. [00:09:00] Every step of the way. And then we created this SOP took screenshots, made diagrams where everything went and now we could begin the process. So we wanted to make sure that everybody that was working within our office understood how to make SLPs, because it’s great.

If you want to work from the top down. But that’s all you’re doing is working from the top down. People need to be trained properly on what has to happen, what would make a good SOP if you’re only going to do something once every three months, I think that would probably suck as, you know, putting together a, a, a, an SOP.

But if you’re doing a repetitive task, maybe it’s responses to, um, uh, reviews or messages, or just checking keyword tracking. These are things that you can start and you can, you could build, have somebody train and have that second layer of. [00:10:00] And then those people can train people. So now everybody can start working together as your company grows.

What do you think about that money?

Well, I loved the story of the, uh, of the coffee process. I think I’d make a pretty, pretty cool post on our blog one day if I ever wanted to do that. But, um, I would also say that it sounds like. That your business was already fairly mature and stable by the time that you actually did that, you know, you had a bunch of people around, you could carve out a lot of time.

You were trying to strategically create a process of culture, which I think is a very good strategy. If you’ve already figured out how to grow a business to a decent amount of revenue and you have put a team in place, uh, but you’re not happy with kind of like how the processes are in the organization.

Um, Uh, and, and, and that, you know, you kind of can go through a project like that and try to set the culture and maybe do it on a non-critical process, [00:11:00] but it’s more of like a training and alignment exercise. Um, but I think that that kind of the strategy that you, you talked about at the end there, um, if you’re just a, you know, a single solar founder, or maybe you’ve got a, a freelance virtual assistant or something, and you’re trying to get going with an e-commerce store.

Then thinking about the, the core, like few kind of repetitive daily processes that are really close to the money, like product listings, like split testing ads, like fulfilling orders for customers. That’s kind of where I’d be starting to, to, to build my first processes and trying to outsource and systemize that work a little bit.

Can we talk about, I just invited a couple of people up, but before we get to them, um, what is the anatomy. Have a great SOP. Um, good, good question. Uh, the, the, the it’s like the way that I’ve [00:12:00] explained it would be like the simplest or least amount of information, um, written in the simplest way to be able to, uh, allow somebody to do the task at the quality.

Um, so it’s a little bit different depending on the process that you’re doing. And, you know, you kind of mentioned maybe if you’re doing something every, every three months, maybe you would make that into a process. That’s not necessarily true, depending on the process. Like if you’re say a real estate agent.

You sell a house every three months, like the process of closing a house, it could be a very useful, uh, important process for, for your business. Um, and you know, you make 50 grand or a hundred grand or whatever on every transaction. So like financially it’s, it’s, it’s very worthwhile, you know, lots of good examples in like investing or law firms or stuff like that, where like they have infrequent.

Valuable expensive processes that they run and the value there is like for those types of processes, like the anatomy is like [00:13:00] super detail, right? Like you want every single check and balance. Um, to make sure that you’re not, you know, avoiding being compliant in this contract or this transaction, or you’re not accidentally sending a million dollars in the wrong bank account or something.

So the anatomy of a process like that is going to be around like having every single detail organized, um, and, and, and kind of like double checked on every single kind of step of the process. So they you’d want to really, really in depth detailed. If you had a process that was more to like hand off to a VA to maybe like list a product, then you kind of want to be optimizing for, um, not like the minimum amount of detail required for them to basically do that task.

Um, and, and then when you’re actually going about designing processes, I would say the best anatomy is the, um, the process that you’re going to actually be able to get. [00:14:00] And stick to doing it. That makes sense. It’s kind of like the diet, it’s like a little bit of like diet advice. Like what’s the best diet, like the best that is the diet that you’re going to stick to.

Right. It’s not, it doesn’t really matter. Like, yes, there’s many different flavors and you could get really optimized and try to follow like Tom Brady’s like perfect diet kind of same thing. You could try to kind of follow some of the. Kind of businesses in the world that have the most detailed, most like robust processes.

If you want to go have a look, a good example of this, go look at, get labs, um, online, uh, company handbook, get lab, just IPO for tens of billions of dollars. Um, they’re the largest public remote company. I think there may be any one of the, one of the only public remote, uh, first companies and all of their processes are.

Uh, on the internet, you can go see, like they have like a handbook with many thousands of pages of processes breaking down every single team and department like that is best practice, but that is not [00:15:00] necessarily attainable or even like something that’s going to generate a return for lots of businesses.

Right. It’s kind of, what is the least amount of work that you can put in that you can build something that you’re going to be able to stick to and execute on, and that is going to provide value back to your business quickly. That’s kind of what, what I think is the right, um, the right structure for an SOP, uh, which is essentially different for every business.

Right. Very good. So before we get to the next question, um, Sasha, do you have a question for. Well, I have a question. Can I also make a little comment as well? Okay. So as far as the questions concerned, um, what would you find? It’s the hardest thing to set up? I work in systems, um, all the time, but I work with service providers and coaches.

So e-comm is a very different beast altogether for me. [00:16:00] So, um, I get asked a lot of questions about, you know, how can your, um, your project management tool help someone within e-commerce and stuff like that. So my question would be what would be the main. Um, systems to start with that are non-negotiable when it comes to an e-commerce business.

And then after that question, after the answer for that, I’ll give them,

I mean, normous is probably better equipped to answer that question than me. You know, I mean, the obvious one I would say is like your core e-commerce platform, right? Whether that’s, you know, your Amazon, Amazon store or Shopify store or whatever, but it’s probably non-negotiable. But, but beyond that, uh, I’m not running e-commerce stores myself.

So I don’t have too much insight into different tools that are,

I saw Joe chomping at the bit. So. Yeah, you did. That’s for sure. So, you know, we try and prioritize [00:17:00] everything. I learned this a long time ago. The first thing you do when you start you’re prioritizing in the morning is sales. Whatever brings you. The only thing keeping you in business are sales. So the first thing you should do every day, uh, and the most important thing to do is to address.

Incoming sales, outgoing sales and questions about your business, dealing with your customers goes, you know, those are the non-negotiables including email, you know, and settlement settle, settlements of money issues, any of that stuff. So that for us would always be, you know, if you’re going to do one thing every day, it’s gotta be.

And do you have any suggestions of like good tools to help manage? You know, it, it really depends a lot on the, um, the amount of marketplaces that you’re on. If you’re on just a regular website or [00:18:00] not, we use FileMaker a lot of times and we’ll build a system that will join the API APIs of the different marketplaces and the.

Together to be able to centralize everything because there’s nothing worse than being on three marketplaces. Plus, I have a website and having to do the same functions, four separate times, just because of those separations, a lot of sites, a lot of sites, and a lot of the marketplaces now with their APIs make it really, really.

To build a fairly simple dashboard and bring all that stuff together. And FileMaker actually, which is owned by apple, makes it really easy to be able to hire regular programmers, to bring all this stuff together. One of the things that we’ve been using is a project management tool called teamwork. I don’t know if many of you have heard of it, but it’s an excellent, uh, project management tool that has everything sort of incorporated.[00:19:00] 

Uh, it has a chat system. It has a support desk. Uh, you can integrate slack. Anyways. One of the things that we’ll do is we’ll break out and this might be. A bit more than what you wanted to hear Sasha, but we’ll break it out into onboarding clients, onboarding employees, onboarding, or, uh, um, uh, there could be a, uh, optimization listing could be a launch and rank could be PPC.

And then within those there’s there’s task lists, but what we’ve done with each one of those tasks is we’ve created an SOP. That the very first thing that it says when you go into the description is if you have not. If you’ve not done this before, please click here. And that goes up to a Google drive folder.

And Joe, this is probably easier doing the way that you’re doing it, but we have an API that we go into Google drive, and there’s usually a video. There is the SOP that the person can go through. The SOP [00:20:00] consists of the prereq or it’s the buy-in. Why are we doing it then? The next is, uh, any, um, uh, predefined or.

Terminology that you might not know. So if you’re Amazon, it could be an a as an ASEN a S I N, or FN skew, you know, people might not know it. So we define it. What prerequisites do you need? Do you have to be logged into seller central and then it goes through the SOP and there’s a bunch of different steps at the end.

It’s talks about reporting. Know who do you report to? Is it directly to the project manager or whoever quantification. Do you want to check on this every three months? Um, and then there’s templates. And so that’s in a separate folder, but there are links to the templates where the people can go to and see the templates.

Like let’s say there’s canned responses. So all the full video, we’ll go through everything going through the training and then if they don’t get it, then what’ll [00:21:00] happen is we’ll set up some training, but within. We set up a template it system, where if we bring on a new client or if we’re bringing on some sort of, or if we’re working in an admin and there has to be something done, there’s a template that’s already done.

And all it has to be is copied and you just have to fill in the blanks, like who’s doing it, what projects that for. And it’s just so simple. And once you train people on how to do that, it just becomes second nature. And I don’t know if that helps or not, or I just confused. Uh, no, definitely. Um, so I’m going to give it just a little bit of clarity.

So I am an operations like to the bone. My biggest thing was like a service providers and coaches that, um, the way of doing things is totally different than e-commerce. So my question was specifically for e-commerce because a lot of people asked me, Hey, can you set up my system? So you said that you’re inside of a teamwork.

I myself am inside of click up and I agree the same thing. Everything is in there. [00:22:00] And it’s wonderful to have. Your company, um, no matter what anybody says, you know, do your research yourself and definitely find works best for you. So, um, everything Andrew said, I definitely co-sign a hundred percent, you know, the, the prerequisites of the purpose, the policy, the parties, the process, all that stuff is attached in there.

So I’m very familiar with systems in general. That’s, that’s my area of expertise. Um, I mean, I, I set up everything you said is wonderful. I love that you said it, you know, keep everything together in one spot. You know, I always tell people all the time, if you are a visual person or even if you have somebody visual in your team, have a video along with a written SOP, because some people, they read the stuff more, they like to checklist and other people that are more visual, they need to see the steps and actually see where you’re going with it.

So I love that you said that. So, um, W what you said, Joe, about the specific programs. I wrote it down here, um, specifically to keep the APIs together with the different platforms that you’re using. That I’m definitely going to, [00:23:00] um, research that and dig into that. Some, because like I said, I don’t personally work with e-com, but I get a lot of questions because I’m in the systems roam, they say, Hey, can you help somebody?

He commented. If I learned everything, I probably can, but I don’t, that’s not my area, but I still want to have information to say, Hey, um, I’m not in, you know, I don’t work with e-commerce sites, but this is what I know. And this is the direction I you think, I think you should go in. So this information is really, really important for me to have because people come to me for systems as a whole.

Like, if you go to my Instagram, you can see on my LinkedIn, all that stuff, systems is my thing, but e-commerce is not my thing. So, cause that’s a really big area, but it’s such a, that moves the world. E-commerce is the world. So when it comes to businesses coming to me and saying, Hey, can you help me set up my E my systems inside of click up for my econ business?

Um, I have to direct them somewhere else, but I would really like to have more information before I direct them so they can go in the right [00:24:00] direction. So that’s why I asked that question. I greatly appreciate all the feedback and for allowing me to come on stage and with oh, thanks a lot, Sasha. Okay. Mr.

Joe, how are you? I’m good. Norm. How are you? I’m doing great. Thanks. Happy holidays to everybody.

So I wasn’t sure if you want to do I invited you up because I know you have a lot of information about this. Is there anything that you want to talk about, uh, about the SOP or policy and procedure, uh, what you do in your company? I know that you run an incredibly tight ship and, um, just wanted to get more feedback.

Yeah. So what I’ve taken to doing the last few years is creating in-depth workshops. So like, are we build, you know, we help people build communities around the greater problem that their product belongs to and doing so with evergreen [00:25:00] content, well, that whole entire content. Sourcing content creation, content, optimizing content posting.

That whole thing is a pretty overwhelming and can be a total nightmare slash clusterfuck. If you don’t have things, you know, put together and I’ve over the years developed a system that’s really in depth and works really well that I take my clients through, but they can also put their employees through when they hire.

So I have people that hire people. And the first thing they do is send them to me to go through these workshops and their first week. So they come back with, okay, this is how we do things. And it include those workshops include probably too much information because I’m trying to cover all the different angles of, you know, content marketing.

So we do a lot of that when I had my bigger [00:26:00] agency. You know, 200 clients at a time, we developed a lot of checklists so that an employee could go from one account to another account and know what’s been covered or what’s been set up in the different area. So I have probably 25 checklists that have.

Probably 18 to 20 tabs each in a spreadsheet just covering, you know, uh, social media marketing or content marketing, or, you know, just through the areas just to make sure you know, all the little things get done because it’s the little of the devil’s in the details every time. And it’s all those little things.

Even with design, you know, having a clear, clear call to action, having your, uh, your USP at the, in the top half of your home page, all those little things are so easily overlooked yet they add up to success or failure. Okay. [00:27:00] I can’t agree more with you, Joe. I mean, and even when it comes down to somebody using an SOP, usually what happens at least this is my experience is that if there’s a mistake and the VA, you know, w w we try to have it where if you go through.

You go through it on your own. If you’re having a problem, let us know. Let’s say they go through and there’s a mistake. If I take a look at that SOP FNA, I don’t know if this is your thought as well, but usually it’s on us because we didn’t, we missed that detail that you’re just talking about, Joe, that, oh yeah, you have to bring your mouse up to the right and click here.

And there’s a dropdown. And once we get that cleared up, then they can go on and, and that might happen once or twice. And it usually always comes back to the person who’s training or the person who’s developed the SOP. What do you think?

Yeah, no, I think that like, it. [00:28:00] It can be very surprising and sometimes blowing, like how much detail there is in like what seems to be a simple process. Like I was just, uh, actually just pulling up our, um, our blog, post production, um, checklist workflow that we have, uh, that we use internally across the street.

And we have a pretty big blog. You know, it has writers and designers. It’s hundreds of thousands of views a month. And. We have 118 step, uh, process for producing a blog post. And it’s just like every single thing right in here is kind of like a beat out. And there’s like handoffs between designers and editors and writers and, um, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s pretty crazy how, uh, how, um, You know, detailed, you get these things, but it becomes critically important.

I think if you really want to make this a machine that just [00:29:00] runs on its own, right? Like I started as the author of our blog. Um, uh, you know, and then maybe for the last four years, uh, I haven’t written a post. Um, and in the last two years, I probably should have read a lot more of the posts and I have, um, And we’ve had, you know, whole teams of writers turnover in that time.

And I haven’t even really paid too much attention to it. And we were still producing like incredibly high quality blood posts, um, you know, generates a bunch of traffic and it all just kind of runs on autopilot because that, that workflow is like so hard again. Very good. Okay. So we’re getting to that time.

We’ve got time for one more question. And Abraham, how are you, sir?

Thank you. Thank you. [00:30:00] Very good. Do you have a question for us? Uh, actually I have no question for now. I just pop into the room because of what you guys are discussing is something that we are pushing as a project to listen for. All right. Very good. Well, thanks for letting us know. Okay. So just closing, closing words of an, a, tell us a little bit about your app.

Uh, and by the way, if you’re just breaking into SLPs or if you’re, you know, intermediate or advance. Vanessa app is incredible. I’ve used it and it is perfect for getting started or even advanced SOP. So tell us a little bit about it. Yeah, for sure. So we’re process street where a modern process management platform.

And what that means is that we believe that, you know, [00:31:00] processes and documentation or SOP, um, I have been left in the past a little bit. And we think that just writing down a process is, is not utilizing a lot of the, uh, technology that’s available to you today, especially on the internet. And so what our platform strives to do is not just give you a place to document and store and obviously search and blah, blah, blah you’re you’re you’re.

But we actually create a workflow engine that lets you take those SLPs and turn them into actionable automated workflows that can automate tasks, collect data, manage. Manage like work across different teams and time zones. And, um, and, uh, actually basically turn that document into a mini workflow app that does a big chunk of that work for you on autopilot.

Um, ultimately that then provides data that then can give you [00:32:00] insights that let you tweak and improve those processes over time. So it’s kind of like, we, we like to reference it as something like going from a paper. To GPS, like with your processes, it lets you turn the knowledge of how to do something into many workflow.

Automations that actually get a lot of that stuff done. It’s all a no code builder. It’s all very simple to use. Just like using click off or something like that. You can come in and drag and drop no code, connect your other tools and kind of automate work that way. So, yeah, we like to think about it as like the future of, you know, process management, modern process management, and then, um, from, from a pricing.

Are like knowledge-based product is free. So if you just want to use it to document and store your SRPs, that’s a hundred percent free. You can use it forever for your whole company. Um, but if you want to start turning some of those documents into automated workflows, that’s when we have like a pricing model, that’s pretty [00:33:00] standard, you know, per user, per month kind of pricing.

Very good. Okay. So. Thank you for coming on. Uh, it was great. Uh, you know, I hope everybody learned a little bit about the importance of se uh, SOP and putting policies in place. You can just get so much more work done, Joe. Thanks for coming up. Thanks for other panelists. I’ve actually used process street street as a free user, and, uh, I’ve used it via clients access as a paid user before.

And, uh, it’s a great system. Oh, awesome. Appreciate that. Okay everybody. Well, thank you for joining and joining us. This is a weekly session. E-comm weekly and we’ll be back next Thursday at one o’clock. If you love what you’re hearing here, and you want more information about entrepreneur and entrepreneurial rooms, click the green house up at startup club and you’ll get notifications.

All right. So until next Thursday, we’ll [00:34:00] see everybody later. Thanks Tom. Thanks everyone. Thanks norm.


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