How To Create An Operations Manual

As a solopreneur, you’ve probably had someone tell you that you should create an operations manual for your small business.

You haven’t started yet because you’re not sure why a solopreneur like yourself would need an operations manual. Or maybe you’re not sure how to start creating an operations manual or what you should put in it.

Great news! I’m going to help get started creating your operations manual. Right after I tell you why it’s important to have one.

Why You Need an Operations Manual for Your Small Business

  • Never Miss A Step –  We’ve all been there. We’ve written a blog post and hit schedule only to remember we forgot to create and add the Pinterest-ready image. Or maybe you’ve scheduled out your social media for the week but accidentally skipped your Instagram account. An operations manual helps you make sure you never miss a step. Saving you time and unnecessary stress.
  • Prepare to Outsource – If you’re like most solopreneurs you don’t plan on being a small one girl show forever. As your business grows, you know you’re going to need help. Creating your operations manual now will ensure you’re ready to outsource tasks as soon as the need arises. Imagine if you decided next week you needed a social media manager. Most solopreneurs start panicking or spending hours deciding what to delegate. Not you. You open your operations manual and locate all the social media related tasks that someone else could handle. Easy peasy.
  • Take a Vacation – No lie. Creating an ops manual allows you to hand off your business to someone else while you take a break. Much like delegating duties to a freelancer or employee an ops manual allows you to delegate duties to a stand-in while you enjoy a little R&R.

What to Include in Your Operations Manual

What you include in your operations manual is really a personal preference, but I’ve got a few suggestions to get you started.

  • A list of links to all the systems you use
  • A brand style guide
  • A list of your affiliate links
  • Copies of any business document templates (contracts, terms, and conditions, etc.)
  • Clearly documented step by step instructions for your processes (social media scheduling, blog post workflow, new client onboarding steps, etc.)

Where to Create/Store Your Operations Manual

When it comes to where to create and store your operations manual, you should use one of the systems you are already using if possible. Using something you’re already comfortable with will make creating your operations manual a much easier process.

That being said here are a few options that I can see working for creating an operations manual.

  • Google Drive – I’ve yet to meet a solopreneur who does not use Google Drive although I’m sure there’s one out there someplace. Create a folder titled operations manual, and you’re off and running. Google has all the options you need to create and upload folders, documents, sheets, and slides.
  • Trello – Trello is one of my FAVORITE tools. I even recommended it in my post 6 Free Tools I Use To Run My Business. If you’re already using Trello, it’s easy to create a board for your operations manual. Now fill it up with lists and cards related to your operations and systems.
  • Evernote – The notebook style setup of Evernote lends itself to creating an operations manual fairly easily. Set up an operations manual stack and start adding notebooks for each of the areas of your operations manual

Need Help Getting Started

I’ve created The Unload Your Overwhelm Ops Manual Starter Kit to get you on the road to rest and relaxation!

It includes:

  • A 30-minute ops business review conducted via Zoom
  • A report detailing the customized ops manual items you should include for your business
  • A  video library walking you through the step by step setup of your ops manual
  • An unload your overwhelm 30-page ops manual workbook

Ops Manual Checklist



Kelli is the COO or Captain of Operations at Even Keel Ops. Her passion is helping overwhelmed entrepreneurs get their operations organized. When she’s not busy helping others unload their overwhelm you can find her on the beach with a book.
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