Operations Manuals: a How To | Creating clarity and efficiency in your business by creating an operations manual | Jenn Wells Design


Full disclosure, Kelli is my BBF (business best friend). I would be sharing her stuff with you regardless but this post I specifically requested because Kelli’s video on setting up your operations manual made a huge difference to the way I organize and run my business.

Here’s Kelli…

Your business is starting to gain traction, and you’re stoked. You’ve learned all about business finances, email marketing, and sales funnels. You’re hitting your business goals each month, and you can’t wait to see what comes next.

Then the unexpected happens. Maybe it’s a family or personal situation that pulls you away from focusing on your business. What do you do then? You don’t want to close your business, but you’re not in a place where you can give it the daily attention it needs to continue gaining momentum.

The Book of Your Business

Imagine you had a set of documents that would allow you to temporarily hand off the tasks necessary to keep your business running while you handled the unexpected event. This set of documents is called an operations manual, and every business owner should have one in place.

Creating an operations manual will ensure your business is prepared when unexpected circumstances come your way. Think of an operations manual as the book of your business. It holds all the core information related to your business and the processes that keep your business running.

Main Sections

When you begin building your operations manual you should start by making a list of the main sections you want to include. Examples of main sections include:

  • Business vision, documented workflows, branding, and links to my business web pages and social media.

Some businesses have main sections set up for each core area of their business. Examples include accounting, marketing, branding, and administration. Each business is unique so the main sections you decide on might be different than the examples I’ve given here.


Once you’ve decided on your main sections, it’s time to determine your subsections. Examples of subsections include:

  • Your business why, mission, and core values
  • Brand style guide and logo files
  • Documented workflows
  • Stock Images

Once you’ve created your subsections, start adding the related information. This will take some time but once you have all the information in one place your business will be prepared if you need to temporarily step away from the daily business of running your business.

Added Benefits

Creating an operations manual has benefits beyond preparing your business for the unexpected.

Having an operations manual allows you to grow and scale your business without the feelings of overwhelm usually associated with growing and scaling a business. When it’s time to build your team you’ll already have your workflows and business vision documented and ready to hand off to your new team members.

Another great benefit of an operations manual is creating efficiency in your business. You’re collecting the information you use to run your business on a regular basis all in one easily accessible place. Imagine not clicking around the internet to copy links or not missing a step in a workflow because you’re following your written workflow document.

One of my favorite operations manual benefits is having a place to refer to when I lose my way in business. On days when I can’t remember why starting my own business sounded like such a great idea or why I should continue, I refer back to the business vision section of my operations manual for a quick morale boost. It works every time!

Updating Your Operations Manual

Once you create an operations manual, you need to keep it up to date. A great time to review and update your operations manual is during your monthly or quarterly business planning sessions. I set up a core information section in my operations manual for my business planning notes. Each month when it’s time to review my business planning I head over to my operations manual. Once I’m there, it’s easy to review and update any outdated information at the same time as I’m reviewing my business planning notes.

No matter what type or size of business you own there are benefits to creating an operations manual. Do you have an operations manual set up for your small business?

P.S. Jenn again – as a bonus, I’m including Kelli’s video on setting up your ops manual in Trello. This was REVOLUTIONARY for me and I want everyone to see it.

For more operations goodness, go visit Kelli at www.EvenKeelOps.com!