What is a Business Playbook and How to Write One?

What is a Business Playbook and How to Write One?

Running a business is tough, and every entrepreneur knows it. And it only gets more challenging as your business expands, especially if you don’t have clear plans and guidelines for your team to follow.

A business playbook helps your team do their jobs better and ensures they provide world-class service to your customers.

Never written a business playbook before? No problem!

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about a business playbook, from why you need one to how to write one.

What Is a Business Playbook?

A business playbook is also known as a corporate playbook, company playbook, or operations playbook. Regardless of what you call it, the business playbook is a document that features all of a company’s processes, policies, and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

A business playbook tells others (from existing team members to new employees) the basics of your business, from what it does and each person’s roles and job responsibilities to the business strategy and what differentiates this company from its competitors.

Why Do You Need a Business Playbook?

It doesn’t matter if you’re running a Software as a Service (SaaS) startup or small business or managing a large e-commerce business that rivals Amazon. Your business needs a playbook.

The following are some specific benefits that a playbook provides business owners like you and your team members:

Prevent confusion

As your business grows and you bring on new employees, it becomes harder to combat confusion and keep everyone in the loop. A business playbook creates an official document that answers the questions new team members (and existing ones) might have.

Maintain Consistency

In addition to preventing confusion, business playbooks also help companies to maintain consistency as they grow.

When everyone has a clear guideline, they’re less likely to take things into their own hands and make decisions that don’t align with the company’s brand or mission.

Not only does consistency maintain the business’s brand, but it also ensures high-quality work across the board. Playbooks establish clear expectations and help employees continuously provide good outcomes.

Save Time

Business playbooks save time for everyone.

First, when employees have a playbook, they know where to go when questions pop up and don’t have to waste time searching for answers.

Second, higher-ups don’t have to waste time answering questions. They can direct the person asking to the playbook and spend more time focusing on bigger responsibilities.

Centralize Company Information

Business playbooks eliminate questions like, “Where do I find instructions for [x] task?” or “Where are the guidelines for [y] process?” Instead of sifting through file cabinets or searching through a collection of poorly organized online documents, everything employees need is centralized in one location.

Encourage Employee Autonomy

Playbooks empower employees and encourage them to take more responsibility for themselves and their roles in the company. Because employees know where to look for information, they feel empowered to take charge and find answers independently.

Scale Your Business More Easily

It’s easier to scale your business with detailed playbooks for every company branch. These documents assist with onboarding and help you get new hires up to speed faster — both of which allow you to efficiently grow your business with fewer bottlenecks.

Exclusive Bonus: Downloadthe core system templates to create your company Playbook, a collection of procedures and reference documents to run your business on Autopilot.

Watch the video to learn how to set this up.

 

How to Write a Business Playbook?

At first, business leaders might feel daunted by writing a business playbook. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with these three simple steps:

1. Audit Existing Processes

An effective business playbook starts with carefully auditing each department’s existing processes and procedures. Call on one person from each department to break down the strategies they run regularly.

2. Collect, Edit, and Organize Information

Once everyone has submitted the audits from their team’s processes and procedures, the next step is to edit that information and write it in plain language. Everyone should be able to understand the instructions and guidelines included.

From here, you’ll organize the revised information.

Divide guidelines into team-specific categories — for example, sales-related information and marketing-related information. You can also add sections that are relevant to all team members, such as information about the company mission or voice.

3. Distribute the Playbook

Next, distribute your playbook to everyone at the company and evaluate its effectiveness.

Test an employee unfamiliar with a specific process to see if they can explain and carry it out even without training. If this is the case, it’s safe to say you’ve created a great playbook.

What Should Be Included in the Playbook

When writing your business playbook, use these checklists and suggestions to ensure you include all the most relevant information:

Company Vision

  • Company mission
  • Current objectives
  • Future objectives

Work Culture and Values

  • Summary of company culture
    • Company policies
    • Employee behaviour policies
    • Communication policies
  • Core values

Organizational Structure

  • Name of the company head
  • Names of other c-level executives
  • Names of managers
  • Names of team leaders

Workflows and Processes

  • A detailed breakdown of critical processes and procedures for each team
    • It should be written in plain language so that newcomers can understand 

Performance Indicators and Metrics

  • An explanation of how the company measures success 
  • Each team’s specific key performance indicators (KPIs)

Operational Guidelines

  • Rules, regulations, and policies necessary for each department

Business Plans

  • Roadmaps of the company’s goals
  • Details for how the company (and each team) will achieve those goals

Goals

  • Company and team goals should check the following boxes:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time-based

Systems, Tools, and Techniques

  • A breakdown of the specific tools and techniques each team uses to carry out daily responsibilities and accomplish their goals 

Who Should Build the Playbook for Business?

For those who are still confused about making a new business playbook, even after listening to an entire podcast or reading LinkedIn articles, there’s nothing wrong with relying on a playbook template. Below are three templates to provide more insight:

Company Playbook

A company playbook provides employees with basic information about their employer and gets them up to speed on what the business is all about. It should include the following:

  • Company history
  • Company vision, purpose, mission, and values
  • Leadership and organizational structure
  • Objectives and goals

Operations Playbook Template

An operations playbook, which explains how your company serves its customers, might include the following sections:

  • Company vision, purpose, mission, and values
  • Strategy, goals, key performance metrics, and tactics
  • Leadership and organizational structure
  • People Operations
  • The Employee Lifecycle
  • Talent Acquisition processes
  • Talent management processes
  • Employee experience information
  • Customer onboarding processes
  • Steps for tracking and executing orders

Sales Playbook Template

From introducing new products to reminding customers of old favorites, a good sales playbook helps your sales team close more deals. Here are some key sections you might want to include in a sales playbook:

  • Company vision, purpose, mission, and values
  • Strategy, goals, key performance metrics, and tactics
  • Leadership and organizational structure
  • Company elevator pitch
  • Customer challenges
  • Customer objectives
  • Product details
  • Prospect profiles
  • Customer outcomes
  • Buyer profiles
  • Tips for managing objections

Bonus Tips

No matter what kind of business playbook you’re working on, these tips can help you create the best resource possible:

  • Include visuals, website links, videos, and other interactive elements
  • Schedule regular reviews and updates to ensure employees receive accurate information
  • Write in your company’s preferred voice and style to maintain interest and set an example for your employees

Integrate your playbooks with the onboarding process, too. Combining them ensures that new hires get essential information right from the start and can hit the ground running sooner.

Take Your Business Playbook to the Next Level

If you don’t already have a business playbook — or collection of playbooks for various aspects of your business — it’s time to get to work!

Use the above tips to collaborate with your co-founder, subject matter experts, and other team members. By working together, you can easily create business playbooks that answer frequently asked questions and ensure everyone is on the same page from day one.

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