Michelle Adams
Lawyer, Entrepreneur and Coach
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If you're a business owner make sure you have this document

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When you own a business there's so much to think about.  First you have to take your business from concept to reality.  Then you have to grow, market and optimize your business.  Daily, you manage your business.  

There are dozens of documents you probably already have if you own a business---a business plan, your organizational papers, maybe a lease agreement, vendor agreements, sales contracts, employee applications. . . .

But what's the ONE document every business owner SHOULD have and probably doesn't?

Most every business owner has business organization papers because you wouldn't be in business without those.  If you got funding for your business then you also did a business plan.

Maybe you have a lease agreement if you have an office or a brick and mortar store.  

You probably have a variety of vendor agreements and sales contracts.

If you have employees then you likely have an employment application.

You're doing great!

But there's one document that many business owners overlook.  It's a document that most every business needs, especially when you have employees.  It's even more important to businesses with a physical location like an office or a store or a warehouse.  

Do you know what it is?

The Policies and Procedures Manual.

A Policies and Procedures manual is an all important document that dictates how you run your business.  It guides your employees on proper procedures.  It establishes the policies for your business.   When used correctly, it's a tool for growth similar to the business plan.  It also a risk management guide that protects your business against lawsuits.  

The Policies and Procedures Manual is the one document you need in your business, particularly if you have employees.  There is one exception.  If you're solo and you're always going to be solo, then you probably don't need a manual because you're the one handling everything for your business.  However, even solo businesses often have a VA or assistant or outside salesperson.  You may want to develop a manual so you can set your sales process and ensure that everyone on your sales team is handling every customer the same. 

A manual is important to set the policies and procedures of your business to ensure it is operating the way you want it to.  Here are the areas your manual will cover:

1.  Sexual Harassment Policy:  Most people are aware of the increased attention of sexual harassment in the news lately.  It's important to have a policy in place to define sexual harassment and to develop a grievance procedure.  

2.  Procedures for your Customer Experience:  Your procedures manual details everything from how your employees should answer the telephone to how they handle complaints.

3.  Employee guidelines:  This includes what your employee wears to work, where to park, cell phone usage, taking breaks and a social media policy.

4.  Important information about your employment policies:  EOE, violence in the workplace, vacations and sick time, etc.

5.  Safety:  Both customer and employee safety should be addressed in your manual.  A policy will inform your employees how to handle accidents, which is a very important risk management tool.

These are just a few areas of your Policies and Procedures Manual.   All businesses that have employees should have a manual (no matter the type of business or firm).  But even if you don't have employees yet, having a Policies and Procedures Manual is a great tool for growth, as noted previously.  Just like a business plan, it can help you outline the growth of your business and prepare for employees.  Deciding that now rather than wait until you hire will save you time and keep the direction of your business intact.  If you don't have employees yet, but you have a partner, the manual can set standards for customer service and partner responsibilities.  

Don't make the mistake of buying a manual off the internet that is not specific to your business.  In order to get the most use out of your manual you need to tailor it to the needs of your individual business.  If you have any questions about creating a Policies and Procedures Manual for your business, feel free to call Michelle Adams at (630) 277-9382 or send a message through our website at www.adamslaw.attorney.