Standard Operating Procedures: The Foundation of a Freelancing or Consulting Business

Standard Operating Procedures are the heart of any business.

As I start Retooling Double Your Audience, I start with a baseline for our Standard Operating Procedures. These are the documents that define the things that the business does: the administrative tasks, the relevant information, the step-by-step instruction on projects. The processes for the business.

If you want to understand SOPs well, read this book: Work The System (

I’m gonna talk about a question that my friend Travis asked:

“Do you have Opinions™ on how to store/organize etc process documents?”

(This was in response to reading through a summary of Work The System)

Below is my response. It’s useful because it gives the context for how I use Standard Operating Procedures in my business. If you want to get a solid base understanding of SOPs, you should read Work The System. This is how I store SOPs in my business and the template I use for my SOPs.

I personally started with ‘Bunch of separate documents and a spreadsheet that acted as the index’ and everything in Google Drive.

I’m still in Google Drive. The ‘linked together by an index’ idea sucked hard.

I switched over to “For a business, all SOPs live in a single document and I use the Table of Contents feature at the top of the document’ and I interlink within the document (headings have unique IDs that you can ‘deep link’ to within the document) if I need to reference another SOP”

It has worked very well for me. It’s what I run my business on. It’s what I’ll be separating Double Your Audience off into. I have used this on projects with 15+ people involved.

I could see a firm argument for “Notebook in Evernote” — I like Evernote’s text processing more than I like Drive’s, but I like the ability to link between SOPs, share SOPs between a team (Evernote’s notebook sharing is okay but not great) and have a real TOC in Drive more than I like nice / easy text processing that Evernote brings.

I have a ‘Template SOP’ in the bottom of my doc that I copy, paste, fill out when I need to add a new SOP. I put the SOP anywhere in the document, typically at the end or grouping related SOPs together.

You eventually hit a point where you might group SOPs

For example, all of my SOPs around, say, my freelancer coaching offerings, are in the same general area for my business. All of my SOPs for Double Your Audience around getting booked on a podcast will be clustered together.

In those cases I’ll:

H1 The Group Title

H2 The SOP Title

H3 the SOP Items

H4 for commentary

H5 for meta

Here’s my SOP template. Copy it, read it, make the suggested changes, and use it, if you’d like. And if I can make any of this better, hit reply and let me know how: