Create Your Own Business Playbook: Build Systems and Processes That Work

Every successful company has its own business playbook. Every single one of them. So, why don’t you have one?

Taken from sports, a playbook is a set of instructions that you execute for every imaginable scenario. If the opposing team runs a blitz, here’s what you do. If they go on a full court defense, here’s a play to counter it.

If this happens, then you do this.

What Is a Business Playbook?

A business playbook is sometimes called a manual or standard operating procedures (SOPs). Depending on the size of your business, you can have individual playbooks for each department (HR, accounting, marketing) or business units or per location.

Regardless of the name you choose, the principle behind it remains the same:

A playbook tells you what to do, when to do it, and how you do it. Sometimes, the why is also included. But the point is it helps your business get through each day efficiently and effectively.

Businesses don’t become successful then create their playbook. Rather, they became successful because they have one.

Why You Need a Business Playbook

Think of a playbook as a framework for success. Below are the five main benefits of having a playbook.

1. Save Time

Because you don’t have to reinvent every process, you just follow a checklist and you’re good to go. This is the most efficient way to manage your business no matter how big or small it is. Whether you’re an agency, an e-commerce shop, or even an individual freelancer, a playbook will help you save time.

Because you can finish the work you intend to do easily, the extra time can be spent on other value-adding activities like getting new customers or searching for partners and other collaboration opportunities.

2. Produce Quality Work

A playbook contains procedures for the things you need to accomplish. Because it’s been added there, it means it is of a level of quality that is acceptable to the business.

3. Help You Scale

By following the playbook, anyone can produce quality work—even beginners and new-hires.

Imagine for a second that your business picks up and you need to hire more people. Because you already have the playbook, anyone you hire can get up-to-speed immediately. That person can perform the work as if he/she is already a veteran in the company.

4. Free Up Time

The other benefit of a business playbook is you do not need to get involved in the day-to-day activities. You can get to take vacations without worrying that your business will crumble without you.

5. Achieve Peace of Mind

One of the biggest problems business owners often share is that they are needed in the business every day because of issues that creep up. But if you have a playbook and everyone follows it, there will be no fires to put out. And if there are fires to put out, parts of your playbook will be able to address them.

How to Create Your Own Playbook

There are many ways of creating a playbook. The approach I’ll share here is a practical approach.

1. Start with a Template

You don’t need to start from scratch every single time. One of the best traits of humans is the ability to learn from others.

I found a simple template that you can download here. Of course, you’d have to customize it to your own business but it provides you with the necessary ones you need.

2. Address Culture

Culture is simply a set of behaviors that everyone in your business does. A high-performing culture is an aggregate of people who perform high-quality work.

If you want to succeed, there are two behaviors you need to address:

  1. The playbook must be open if you’re doing the work
  2. Update the playbook in real-time as needed

The first behavior is that everyone who does the work, assuming it is covered in the playbook, has to have the playbook opened.

The next behavior is if the playbook isn’t updated anymore, for example the process have changed because of some software updates or there is no process for the work, the person who is doing the task adds it to the playbook.

3. Keep Using the Playbook

As you and your team keep using and adding the playbook, over time it will become a document that you can’t live without.

If you’re a one-man team, you’ll probably start off by adding operational processes—how you do your work.

  • If you’re a writer, you might have several processes for researching topics and for after you finish the article.
  • If you’re handling Facebook ads, you might have a checklist for how you handle a reach campaign or a lead generation campaign
  • You might also have an interview questionnaire for onboarding new clients to help you understand the business and its customers and the problems they are facing

You add all these in your playbook. The first two examples are processes for doing the work, while the last one goes into your templates (which you can also reference in the onboarding new clients process).

As you keep using the playbook, you’ll eventually add processes for how to handle expense monitoring and your taxes, how you hire and onboard new team members, and many more.

Over to You

Creating your own business playbook is easy. It provides you with a lot of benefits. The only downside is a little bit of time every day to create it.

Overcome this hurdle and you can expect to reap the benefits of having your own business playbook.

Do you have your own playbook? Or do you think you don’t need one? Either way, I’d love to know what you think.

Ariel Lim

Ariel Lim

Management consultant / MBA / Inbound marketer who helps startups generate leads, create and execute strategies.

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