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Operations Manual 101

Most of our coaches are already ahead of 95% of health coaches, you have a business plan.  That business plan gives you focus, clarity and the ability to go to the bank for a loan if needed.  We haven’t talked about an operations manual, and now is the time to do that.  While you’re setting up your procedures and when you may be starting out with a team or growing your team is the perfect time to create your operations manual.

What is an Operations Manual?

An operations manual is documentation of any and all practices and procedures of your business.  You have operations manuals for anything that you own that takes instructions.  Think about your last cell phone and the book that came along with that with instructions for everything.  That is what you’re creating for your business, a  document that lists everything you do and all the steps you take and anything you use to do it.

An example would be setting up a Facebook advertisement – from beginning to end.

Another example would be hiring procedures, from beginning to end.

An operations manual should be set up in a way that someone could step in, in an emergency and run your business tomorrow with your written instruction.


Cathy Sykora

Cathy Sykora

Founder, The Health Coach Group

Cathy helps health coaches build and maintain successful businesses that improve the lives of others.

Why Have an Operations Manual?


This is going to be the most boring thing you do.  Each of my team members is required to document their procedures…and it’s like pulling teeth.  It just isn’t fun to do it.


  1.  An operations manual add market value to your business. That means if you decide to sell, it is an asset and adds to the value of your company.
  2. Quality of service.  An operations manual can take what the owner of the company would do and pass it on to employees so that there isn’t a standard that is upheld by all.
  3. Training Tool.  The manual will allow directions to be followed exactly without taking the time and trouble of the owner.
  4. I know, it never happens…but just in case you forget how you did it the first time, you’ll have instructions the 2nd time and you won’t have to do all the research and mistakes to do it again.
  5. If something happens to the owner, someone can walk in tomorrow and keep your business going.
  6. The process of creating the manual gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate and improve operations.

What Should be Included?


  • Job Descriptions
  • Hierarchy
  • Documented Processes
  • Contacts
  • Rules, policies
  • Location of any items
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Long and Short Bio
  • Client Clarity/Niche
  • Mission Statement
  • Values Statement


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  1. Candess M. Campbell

    Cathy, thank you for this prompt. This year I am clearing out my office and I have notes everywhere for my Office Policies Manual. I have a beautiful binder and multicolored tabs to make it fun. This is a great reminder and perfect for January!

  2. Claudette

    Thanks Cathy for bringing this up. Although I don’t have a complete operations manual, I have worked with a few people who did and wow, how helpful was it to just go to that section, read up on it and if I didn’t understand, then ask the person in charge.
    I’ve started to take notes on my procedure for when I do webinars, post my blogs and other work.
    I must say that I’m not consistent 100% of the time with noting what I do, but I have found it really helpful to jot down my process so that I’m not wasting my time recreating the procedure.

  3. Meghan

    Creating documentation for your business is boring, no question there! But it is so valuable. I wrote a simple business plan for 2018, and I can’t believe the clarity and direction it provided for my other business tasks. An operations manual is an excellent idea!

  4. Reba Linker

    Great reminder. I had an op manual in my last business (a large dance studio) that was very useful. I haven’t done so yet in my new business because I am the primary mover and shaker. I know that I need to do it, for all the reasons you outlined. Thank you!

  5. Tandy Elisala

    I LOVE this article SO much, Cathy! So many entrepreneurs and small business owners lack operations manuals much less SOP’s. This advice can be applied to every industry. I would also include a records retention policy (which could be included in the records location). So many people think this ‘task’ is a “as time allows” thing rather than incorporating operations manuals into their business; giving the same importance as compliance and policy development.

  6. Teresa Salhi

    In my former career I wrote many SOPs and became quite good at it. It has carried over.

  7. Rachel Lavern

    I love operations manual so that the business and personal life both run like a well oiled machine.

  8. Joyce Hansen

    Thanks for the reminder Cathy. I’ve been thinking of coordinating all my loose ends of information, so that if anything happened someone else could step in. I’m moving this up to the top of my to-do list.


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