Write Down Your Policies and Procedures

csi_editguide
Screenshot from our old editing guide.

Whether you’re a one person operation or a multi-national conglomerate, if you want to effectively run and grow your business, you need to have systems set in place for every aspect of your company: from the shooting and editing, to bookkeeping, to the sales and marketing.

WHAT’S YOUR POLICY?

As a visual arts related business, there are many things we need to do to have a successful shoot. Checking gear. Clearing CF cards. Packing tapes. Printing maps. Etc. Then, when a shoot is over, there’s another whole set of duties for post production. Much of this work is stuff that just seems commonsensical. Some of it comes from lessons we’ve learned the hard way. But they all represent our policies and procedures for executing a shoot and edit. I have no doubt that many of you probably have a similar set of procedures you go through. But the question is, have you written them down?

One of the things that we talk about in our book ReFocus is creating these systems and the importance of actually writing them down. It may seem like unnecessary extra work, but in truth, it is a vital part of building a strong business. There are four key benefits to writing down your policies and procedures:

  1. Solidify your business: by writing down your P&P, you make it more concrete in your mind and those around you that this is a business, not just a glorified hobby. That’ll help with the IRS too should they ever question you about your business.
  2. Facilitate training: as your business grows, at some point you will hire either employees or independent contractors. In either case, you want to make sure that the work they do for you meets your company’s standards, and allows you to ensure a smooth workflow. Imagine how nice it would be if  you could just send them a PDF with instructions on how to do what it is you want them to do. Think of it as an operations manual.
  3. Encourages you to improve: when you actually sit down to write out how you do things, you get in a mindset geared towards that aspect of your business. That in turn forces you to think about ways in which you could actually improve the way you do things. The process of updating and writing your policies and procedures will lead to a process of updating and improving your policies and procedures.
  4. Prep your business for sale or investment: most of you may never have any aspirations of selling your business. But, you never know. One of the key aspects behind Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited is setting up your business in such a way that it could be sold or franchised (rather or not you ever plan to). Having a set of written policies and procedures makes it easier to transition company ownership, which in essence makes your company more attractive to potential buyers or investors.

START NOW. DO IT LITTLE BY LITTLE.

It’s very easy to get started. Just pick one aspect of your workflow and spend 10-15 minutes writing it down somewhere. We use Google Docs. Then every time you go out to do a shoot, or sit down to edit, spend just a few minutes adding to your operations manual. Don’t worry about making it all “pretty” and organized now. Just get your policies and procedures written down. Change them over time as needed.

SHARE YOUR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES AND YOU MAY WIN A FREE DOWNLOAD

I’d love to hear about some of the policies and procedures for your business. Share them in the comments below and next Monday, January 4, I’ll do a drawing for a free download of my pricing strategies audio program.

10 thoughts on “Write Down Your Policies and Procedures

  1. I have made a workflow sheet for my photo and video editors. It includes clearing space on drives, setting scratch disks, making the proper folders, backing up content, importing, editing, converting audio files to aiff and more. It is really is helpful when showing someone the ropes of how I work. Then, when it's written down, you can analyze where things can be improved and then we slowly implement those changes.

  2. We always have someone whose not part of the editing check over the timelines before we make the DVD. A lot of times, as an editor, you get prejudice about certain shots, etc. (both positive and negative), and a fresh set of eyes and ideas has really improved the quality of our videos.

  3. I use ShootQ to send out a prewritten email to inquiring brides. It includes links to my blog, website, and slideshows from past weddings. Linked at the bottom of the email is my current pricing and their own personal site to sign the contract. With a click of a few buttons, I can answer brides in minutes without having to really do anything. It took time to set everything up, but it has saved so much time in the long run!

  4. I have made a workflow sheet for my photo and video editors. It includes clearing space on drives, setting scratch disks, making the proper folders, backing up content, importing, editing, converting audio files to aiff and more. It is really is helpful when showing someone the ropes of how I work. Then, when it's written down, you can analyze where things can be improved and then we slowly implement those changes.

  5. We always have someone whose not part of the editing check over the timelines before we make the DVD. A lot of times, as an editor, you get prejudice about certain shots, etc. (both positive and negative), and a fresh set of eyes and ideas has really improved the quality of our videos.

  6. I use ShootQ to send out a prewritten email to inquiring brides. It includes links to my blog, website, and slideshows from past weddings. Linked at the bottom of the email is my current pricing and their own personal site to sign the contract. With a click of a few buttons, I can answer brides in minutes without having to really do anything. It took time to set everything up, but it has saved so much time in the long run!

  7. Hey RonAs a process improvement PM in my other universe I can really relate to your post. In particular developing your workflow so that it can be duplicated with the relatively the same output for each client. Plus I'm a big believer in transition planning…who knows, maybe my son and daughter will eventually take over the biz as they have a pretty good eye with the camera!!! Excellent advice as usual.Regards,Carl

  8. Hey RonAs a process improvement PM in my other universe I can really relate to your post. In particular developing your workflow so that it can be duplicated with the relatively the same output for each client. Plus I'm a big believer in transition planning…who knows, maybe my son and daughter will eventually take over the biz as they have a pretty good eye with the camera!!! Excellent advice as usual.Regards,Carl

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