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The Ultimate Guide to Creating Training Manuals To Super-Charge Your Business

  • Lynn SilvaLynn Silva

Reading ManualThis post is a finalist in our Ultimate Guides Contest. Show your support for this, or any of the finalists by commenting, sharing and joining the conversation!

You have a business. You have a site. You blog. You promote. You reciprocate. You try all the suggestions you read about on growing your business. You have all kinds of methods and procedures.

You finally get a rhythm down and find certain things that work. So naturally, you want to repeat them.

So you sit down, and begin trying to remember what you did that worked. There was a certain method you had for getting people to share your latest post. Oh, what were the steps?

Or, you had a step by step procedure you used with a few clients that produced amazing results. So you try and repeat this process with your new clients. If only you could remember what you told your past clients to do!

You had part of the procedure in your computer files… where are they? And where are the notes you took when you were helping your past client?

You spend more time trying to REMEMBER what worked with previous tasks than you do on anything else. It stresses you out. You tell yourself over and over that you’ve got to get organized. If you could just get these things that work organized so they’re handy when you need to do them again…but HOW?

Does this sound like YOU?

Are you a solo-preneur wearing all the hats? Or maybe you’re a more established business trying to become more efficient. Either way, there is a way to set up your business so that it can prosper and grow tremendously.

The single most effective tool for growing your business is the process of bringing together different ideas and developing a system that saves time, money and stress.

Regardless of how big or how small, training manuals are the crux of productivity, growth and success. The general idea is ‘automaticity.’ The more you lay out in step by step form, the more useful the manual is.

Understand the ‘Why’

There are two general reasons why a training manual could be implemented:

1) To help run your day to day tasks smoothly

2) To help your business grow

Here are just a few examples:

  • Automated Email Training System
  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • How to Guides (marketed on your site)
  • Employee Job Descriptions

There are two main benefits to having a training manual:

  • Productivity: By ‘cloning’ processes, it saves time and energy for focus on clients, writing articles, marketing, teaching, expansion etc.
  • Mental Models: Everyone has them! Something you’ve learned in your past prevents you from learning or grasping something new. But when you have a step by step ‘system’ you are able to bypass these quickly and move toward the intended outcome.

Timing Is Everything

Having manuals already in place eases the transition of delegation during expansion. The step by step systems are more easily duplicated so as to produce equal results each time. For the solo-preneur, they are major time savers.

The Seven Signs of Distress:

  1. Lack of flow or organization
  2. High overhead
  3. A decrease in productivity
  4. Employee burnout or increased turnover rate
  5. Inability to remember how to perform successful tasks
  6. Stagnate or decreased sales
  7. Slowdown in new customers.

The Unspoken Secret

Okay, let’s not mince words here. Sometimes… a lot of times…

You ‘aint’ right in the head!

Sometimes when taking on a large task, regardless of education, experience or previous success, there is a disconnect between the brain and the heart. You know you need to do something. You sit down to do it and face the infamous ‘blank screen/blank mind’ syndrome.

In your heart, you really want to do this. But your head is saying you don’t know how. You’re not good enough, you don’t need to do this right now, etc. Your brain and your heart are on two different wavelengths.

If You ‘Aint’ Right in the Head, Get Right…Right Now!!!

This article has incorporated the use of mental skills in each step. A simple ‘trigger’ phrase or a motivating ‘action’ word, when combined, can greatly improve engagement and enhance the growth rate of a business.

Tommy Walker has mastered the use of mental skills. He says that you have to have a ‘framework that enables you to get focused and perform at your best.’ Honing in on mental skills is sort of that unspoken secret to all successful businesses. They aren’t tangible.

They’re achieved through discipline over time and continue to grow as your success grows. Watch for these hidden secrets throughout the article and find ways to implement mental skills throughout your business.

Making Killer Training Manuals

The 5 W’s

Know your specific purpose or Value Proposition. Who is this guide for? What is the benefit? When can they use it? Where can they apply it? Why is this guide so valuable?

You Cannot Build a House without a Foundation

Lay out a basic foundation. Depending upon the purpose, you may want to add or eliminate some of these components.

  • Title page

  • Table of Contents

  • Introduction – This is where you can state your ‘5 W’s’

  • How to Use the Guide – especially if it contains cross reference material

  • Step by step instructions

  • Closing and /or additional reading suggestions if applicable

  • Reference page if applicable

  • Glossary

  • Index – usually for when you cross reference material

  • You also want to begin forming a basic idea of what categories you’re going to want to gather information on. These categories can later be divided into heads and sub heads with attention grabbing titles.

Types of Manuals:

  • A textbook oriented style

  • A step by step table or graph

  • A combination of both

Treasure Hunt Versus Research

The Power of Suggestion

In college, just the word ‘research’ turned me off. It was an instant ‘disconnect’ for my brain and my heart. One day when I was gathering information, my son joked about my ‘boring research paper.’ I remember saying to him, “It’s not research, it’s a treasure hunt.”

Recently, he was having trouble with a paper he was doing in his college class. He reminded me that instead of researching, he went on a ‘Google treasure hunt’ for the project and ended up pulling an ‘A.’

Just as skilled writers use power words to maintain reader interest, these power words can also be utilized on your own mind to trigger action.

Think about it for a second. Would you rather research information for your newest training system, or would you rather go on a ‘treasure hunt’ for helpful information your readers are going to benefit from?

What connects your brain and your heart better? Research…or treasure hunt?

Easy Skim Reading Tips

The more you practice, the more skilled you become. Here are some tricks to help:

  • Subheads, bolds & italics
  • Keywords: If your subject is email marketing, look for words such as email, @, aweber, server, call to action, sales, discount, etc.
  • Additional Clues: ‘For example…’; ‘Another…’; ‘…because…’
  • Epiphanies: Nothing is more pleasant than the serendipity of finding information by chance that you didn’t even know you needed. Be on the lookout for these pleasant little gifts.
  • Tools: Kippt, Evernote, IFTTT, Pocket, Acetext or even plain old bookmarking and copy, cut and paste.

Analyzing & Organizing Versus Connecting the Dots

  • Trigger Phrase: First and foremost, if the idea of analyzing and organizing causes a ‘disconnect,’ find a trigger phrase that gets both your head and your heart into it. For example: ‘Connecting the Dots; orย  ‘Piecing the Puzzle’. Whatever keeps your brain and heart in alignment, ame it and get started.
  • Most likely, you’re going to have a myriad of information scattered in bookmark links, word documents, books and notes. Find some way to get it all into one place so you can begin putting it into order in a way that makes sense for your intended reader.

NOTE: This is only one example of how to bring all of your information together. This is by no means the only way to produce a ‘killer training manual.’ Use this example to enable the psychological triggers necessary to dig in and produce killer training manuals in all aspects of your business.

Online Information

I have the free version of Kippt with the bookmarklet extension for my browser. It allows you one folder. Since my regular bookmarks list on my browser is constantly full, I like to use Kippt for projects.

  1. By skim reading, find a relevant post with information you want to include. When you find a post with information you like or may consider using, click on the Kippt bookmarklet from your browser’s bookmarks. A little box pops up asking where to save. Click ‘inbox.’ This will save it to your Kippt inbox, not your regular email inbox. Then move on and continue searching for more relevant information repeating this process.
  2. As you’re researching (or treasure hunting) begin to get an idea of categories you’d like to include in the manual. Jot down these categories on a piece of paper (post- it, scratch paper, Evernote, etc.).
  3. After you’ve gotten enough information, go into your Kippt inbox and skim through all of the saved links. Make a yes or no decision for each link. For links you’re sure you want to use, put these links into the favorites section of Kippt.
  4. Now the favorites section of the Kippt folder holds the links of all of the information you want to include in the manual.

The Art of Copy and Paste

This is the point where you can begin to really hone in on specific information you want to include in your manual. At this point, you should have two documents open on your computer:Kippt Favorites and a blank Word document.

  1. Have the first link you saved in your (Kippt) favorites open.
  2. Copy and paste everything you want included in your manual from that link into the blank Word document.
  3. When you have everything copied and pasted from that particular link, go into your Word document.
  4. Rewrite what you’ve copied in a way that makes the most sense for you, or leave it as you found it, making sure either way to assign credit to the blogger you are referencing.
  5. Once you’re done coalescing everything you’ve collected, move on to the second link in your (Kippt) favorites section.
  6. Repeat the aforementioned process using the SAME Word document. Don’t worry about organization yet.
  7. Do this for every single link you have in your (Kippt) favorite section.

Hard Copy Information: (books, notes etc.)

If you have books, notes and other information obtained from somewhere other than the internet, now is the time to transfer this information into the same place as the previous information.

  1. Open up the same Word document that holds your paraphrased information from your online sources. Paraphrase the information you gathered from all hard copy sources. In other words, save time by putting the information into your own words so that no content is plagiarized.
  2. Don’t worry about chronology yet. Just focus on getting the information into the same place.

Hard Copy Versus Computer Copy

It is at this point that you can print your Word document with all of the information you’ve gathered.

Now it is time to start breaking down all of your information into facts and steps. Remember to stick to what you want the reader to know and what you want them to do.

By now, you should have a good idea of sections. Define your sections.

Example: Categories for this post were initially: Why When How Research Gathering Information, Organizing, State of Mind, etc. All of the facts were broken down and put into one of these categories.

Tools: outlining, graphic organizers (mind mapping), spreadsheets, tables, graphs, etc.

Choose the method of organization that you prefer. For me, I mind map, then do an outline according to my categories.

Writing Versus Explaining

Try to write in the Active Voice.

  • Example of Active Voice: “Harry wrote the article.” (yes)
  • Example of Passive Voice: “The article was written by Harry.” (no)

Sentences – Use clear, concise and consistent terminology.

  • Example: A training manual can be referred to as a training system, workbook, how to guide, job duties, email training system, or curriculum

In an effort to keep it clear and concise, the word ‘training manual’ is consistently used throughout this article.

Heads and Subheads – In the original organization of your material, you undoubtedly have categories that you’ve arranged your content in. Take these categories and arrange heads and subheads. By this, I mean make use of trigger phrases and power words to create catchy headlines and subheads that motivate the user.

  • Example: In the original organizing of this document, the section above that talks about when to initiate a training manual was originally titled, ‘when.’ Upon reaching this step, it was changed to ‘Timing is Everything.’

Expose the Meat!

  • You’ll most likely find that you’ve gathered too much information. Don’t worry! Use your editing skills and cut out the unnecessary content and leave just the necessary facts. It’s just like eating a piece of meat. Youย  trim the fat and then consume the meat. In this case, the meat (aka facts) needs to be clearly defined.
  • Instant Gratification: Combine the problem with the solution. In other words, don’t present a problem and say you’ll talk about that later. Present the problem, with the the solution immediately following. We live in a world of instant gratification. Say it, and then deliver it.
  • This is the time when you really use the mental skill of getting inside the reader’s mind. As you’re organizing the steps, visualize what the reader needs to do next
  • Tell them what to do. Begin each step with an ‘action’ word. A key element in marketing is crafting the perfect call to action.It is the same with each step. The reader is not going to know what they’re supposed to do unless you call them to do it.
  • Bullets & Numbers: Bullets & numbers break the steps down. Begin each (especially when referring to chronological order) with your ‘action’ word.
  • Triggers: Descriptive words combined with power words often help the reader remain engaged and mentally prepare them for the next step. Just like in the example for ‘research.’ Finding a phrase that triggers motivation is the key.

Example: Sophie Lizard has a training guide on how to find writing jobs and querying. She didn’t waste time on calling it ‘querying’ or ‘applying for jobs.’ Her title is ‘Client Hunting.’

I don’t know about you, but for me, job hunting has always been grueling. Sophie’s title coerced me to dig in with anticipation and hope.

  • Analogies & anecdotes: The use of analogies and anecdotes in the form of examples and quick stories gives the reader something tangible to relate the training to. This reinforces the training’s value.

Example: In Step 3, there is a short story about college research and how by changing the term to ‘treasure hunt,’ it changes the task from boring to challenging.

  • Graphics – Make sure any pictures displayed are on the same page as the related text. Consider alignment as well so that it fits in with the text and is doesn’t interrupt the flow.

When the writing is complete, the rest of the manual is pretty basic. At the end of this post, there is a table that helps in the completion of the rest of the manual.

2 Bonuses

Training guides are the crux of productivity, growth and success. The secret to making killer guides begins – and ends – by aligning the brain and the heart.

Don’t forget to lean on your mental skills in an effort to remain focused. Do this first, and the rest will flow naturally and end in more opt-ins, more customers and a thriving business.

As a bonus, I made you a chart that lays out the steps to making training manuals and I’ve also included a very candid interview with Sophie Lizard and Tommy Walker. In it, they talk about their own experiences in compiling training systems. Listen carefully, you will find all kinds of little clues that indicate their strongly developed ‘mental skills.’

Now go out and produce an awesome training manual that catapults your business to the next level. And please, send me a link to your newly developed program.

66 thoughts on The Ultimate Guide to Creating Training Manuals To Super-Charge Your Business


Wow! Just in time. Great content. Thank you for posting.

Lynn Silva

You are most welcome Percy. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Keep in touch. : )

Adrianne Munkacsy

Thanks for some great info, Lynn. Along with quick guides and templates, I’ve also created short training videos using screenr. Having these systems in place saves tons of time. (The tricky part is keeping them up to date as things change!)

Lynn Silva

Hi Adrianne! I watched a webinar a few weeks ago that talked about the increasing popularity of videos on blogging sites. It’s definitely another tool we should all be open to.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Nida Sea

Wow! Great post, Lynn! I really like the way that you use “treasure hunt” in place of research. When I have to do heavy research I cringe! If I refer to it as treasure hunting, maybe it won’t feel so bad to do.

Lynn Silva

Ni Nida! : )

Yes, ‘treasure hunt’ is a personal psychological trigger that helps get me into ‘research’ mode. It works every single time. In time, you’ll come up with all kinds…and if they don’t make sense to others, they aren’t necessarily supposed to. As long as they motivate you and enhance your productivity and focus, they can be as nonsensical and silly as you like!

Thank you for reading and commenting! : )

Sue Brackstone

Great post! Thanks for such helpful info ๐Ÿ™‚

Lynn Silva

Hi Sue! You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for reading. : )

Karen Cioffi

Great tips. Creating ‘how to’ guides is so helpful and time saving. I shared this!

Lynn Silva

Hi Janis!
I’m so glad you found it helpful. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Have a great day! : )

Lynn Silva

Hi Karen,

Thanks for reading and sharing. Yes, how-to guides increase productivity…bottom line. Believe it or not, I made a little guide for my two girls for when they’re cleaning their rooms. I packed them with little sayings they can relate to so that they can get the ‘boring’ job done quickly but still get the room clean. For me, it doesn’t just stop in the business realm, and I seldom have to reprimand them for not cleaning their rooms anymore! One less battle on the homefront…so I can focus more on work! That’s the best part! ; )


Hey Lynn,
I love it!!! How old are your girls? Makes me think I could create a picture-story-guide for my son! And though I know some people say business is all about setting up systems and making sure youยดre profitable, I only half realized how it is never to early to get started putting sytems in place. THANK YOU!

Lynn Silva

Hi Susanne,
My girls are 8 & 11. Your picture guide gave me a great idea!

My 11 y/o has Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome…a vision problem that inhibits her processing. Before Christmas the teacher started using pictures with phrases and words to help her with the standard ‘main idea.’ When she finished the unit, she emailed me and was very excited because my daughter scored proficient when the week before, she’d scored below basic. She’s using pictures with a lot of the standards my daughter is struggling with and it works!

So with your son, I have no doubt that it will be a great success. To be honest, my daughter’s learning disability is what helped lead me to my niche. The testing process is a long, rough road and as she was going through it, she kept falling farther behind. Inadvertently, in an effort to keep my daughter’s self-worth up, I started focusing on mental skills with her. She really reacts well to explicit systems and psychological triggers. Her progress was fast and massive.

That’s when I thought I needed to become certified in this area and start incorporating them into business.

I’m so curious to see how your son reacts. PLEASE please keep me informed. What an awesome idea!


Hey Lynn,
see how your daughterยดs “dis-ability” is in fact a special ability, as it helps evolution in a way that it makes you and her teacher come up with new ideas and try new approaches?!
I believe in variety <3

Sophie Lizard


Lynn, I am in AWE of your progress. Seriously, when one of the experts you interview feels they’ve learned and benefited from the article you end up writing, that means you’re doing a Very Good Job.

Sophie Lizard

P.S. Ever thought about being a copywriter? If you were charging a reasonable fee for those resources you offer at the end, I’d have paid it. With just a few tweaks, this would’ve made a great sales page.

Lynn Silva

Hi Sophie,
Honestly? Yes, I’ve considered it and perhaps you just gave me that proverbial ‘sign’ I was looking for.

As for my progress, I suspect that you might have a tiny little something to do with that. : ) In the meantime, I hope I’ve been able to give something back and that you take even one second to be proud of YOU.

My goal in life is to truly help empower people, so if I do that, I go to sleep fulfilled. Thanks so much for your time, your support and your kind words.

A. Lynn Jesus

Great post! (And I’m glad to know I am on the right track! Whew! Hehe!)

People often underestimate their knowledge. This is a great way of maximizing on that knowledge, plus validating and supporting it through treasure hunting.

Lynn Silva

Hi Lynn,

You’re right, you’re on the right track and I can tell just by your comment. The unspoken key is that success lies within all of us. It’s just that for many, the trials and tribulations of life program us to mentally snuff out our true potential…and then we begin validating excuses instead of productivity enhancements.

I’m so fascinated with highly successful people because when you listen carefully, it becomes obvious that mentally, they just automatically plow through what many of us struggle with. Their mental strength is amazing and is something that we can pick up on from them…if we listen really close.

I wish you much success! Thanks for commenting and please keep in touch. : )

Fay Sanford

positioning – more a marketing than sales term, although relevant to experienced and sophisticated sellers, and related to targeting – positioning refers to how a product/service/proposition is presented or described or marketed in relation to the market place – with reference to customers, competition, image, pricing, quality, etc. Positioning basically refers to whether a proposition is being sold appropriately – in the right way, to the right people, at the right time, in the right place, and at the right price. A potentially brilliant business can fail because its products are not positioned properly, which typically manifests as sales people being unable to sell successfully. There might be little or nothing wrong with the sales people and their skills, and the product/service, but the venture fails because the positioning is wrong. Conversely, good positioning can rescue a less than brilliant product/service. Effective selling is not only about quality and skills – its about suitability of targeting.

Lynn Silva

Hi Fay! : )

I agree! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! : )

Marjorie Silva

Lynn, Your creative mind never ceases to amaze. This guide will certainly be a wonderful tool for those seeking help in organizing a business. Great job!! You do make me proud to say you are my daughter.

Lynn Silva

(blushing) Thank you Mom. I inherited that creativity from YOU. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to say ‘I love you’ in the professional realm…but after all, you are my mommy, so…I love you and thank you for never giving up on me. : )

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Wow! Talk about an in-depth look . . . good for you! I know that I have wasted plenty of time trying to reinvent the wheel when I don’t take good enough notes/keep lists/ and so forth. I’m inspired to do a better job in 2014. Keep up the good work!

Lynn Silva

Thanks for commenting Kelly. As for reinventing the wheel…oh my goodness…it used to drive me crazy! I have to say that having Evernote on every single device I have is one of THE MOST awesome tools I’ve found. That ‘lil’ elephant button is my lifesaver! : )


I want to echo Sophie Lizard’s sentiments. I am extremely impressed with this guide and I learned about some interesting tools and resources that I hadn’t heard before that I will definitely be checking out.

Thank you Lynn for being courageous enough to post this interesting guide. It inspires me to take greater action in getting more organized and crystal clear in my day to day processes as I go about my business.

You’ve just made it extremely difficult for any writer to use the excuse of not being organized. Congratulations on a job well done! You should be very proud of yourself!

Lynn Silva

Thank you so much Valerie! I’m sure you know how important productivity and organization are with Kingdom of Paidalot. As I’ve watched it unfold, I sit in awe at the hats you juggle and the tasks you accomplish on a daily basis. You seem to keep up with everyone and everything…and you’re sane!!!! So a compliment coming from you is much loved, respected and appreciated! : )

Kerry Congdon

This is great, Lynn! It’s so true that building up a training manual will save time, energy, etc., in the long run, especially, like you say, those times when you “ain’t right in the head.” Your advice and steps are all actionable and you make this – which seems to be one of the biggest things in business – totally doable! Thanks!

Lynn Silva

Hi Kerry! : )
Yes, training manuals save all types of energy… physical and mental!!!

You made my day when you said, ‘totally doable.’ That is my entire purpose…to show others how much untapped, buried, ignored…etc. potential we hold way deep inside.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Andreea Leau

Great post Lynn! Congrats ๐Ÿ™‚

You have so much right about the files. All the time I think that I saved them in a such anobvious place. Most of the times, my files are like ninjas. hee hee

Anyway, the 5 W’s are really important in no matter what. Even if you are writing an article you have to answer to the all 5 w’s.

I prefer table or graph manuals. There are more attractive for me. And I prefer them offline like note books. hee hee

Lynn Silva

Hi Andreea! : )

I agree about offline notes. I especially found them handy when learning social media marketing and managing my site. I’d embed something and then 2 weeks later, spend another 45 minutes trying to remember how I did it the first time. Now, I have them written in a little notebook labeled with colored sticky tabs so I can go right to whatever that particular task is and not waste time re-learning! As for graphs, that’s why I provided the table so readers can just print that one page and have a hard copy of it.

Thanks for reading and commenting!


Awesome post Lynn! This is essential stuff for anyone wanting to systematise their processes. I’m forwarding a link to some clients who are working on this right now.

Great content!

Laura ๐Ÿ™‚

Lynn Silva

Hi Laura! : )

Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m so honored that it may help your clients.


Hey Lynn,

This is great…just as I needed it :))…I am implementing systems in my bookkeeping business. This will be really hand…just in time ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lynn Silva

Hi Mehmet! : )

I’m anxious to hear how your implementation goes. Maybe I can talk you into an interview in the near future? I’d love to get inside your mind to find out what did and did not work for ideas on how to help other people. Please keep in touch.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

D Kendra Franceso

Hello Laura!

I’m amazed at how much information is in this! Talk about treasure hunting! You gave away an entire chest of doubloons! (My mind word is “revise” instead of “rewrite.”)

I’ll be bookmarking this!


Lynn Silva

Hi Kendra!

Wow! You just gave the perfect example of a ‘trigger phrase’ (or word) that I was trying to explain. I too, never think ‘rewrite’ because of the inside negative feelings it promotes. ‘Revise’ is perfect, because it triggers me to think ‘improve’ instead of ‘start all over.’ Perfect example!

Thanks so much for the example, for reading and for commenting.

D Kendra Franceso

Yes, “rewrite” always left a bad image in my mind, too. Like a “Do it all over from the beginning.” To revise is a simple task of fixing a few things.


Mine ALWAYS need a rewrite. Revising would NOT get it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Carlos Rodriguez

Wow, a great organized post! But the best part is that of “treasure hunt” idea, it changes all. In fact, I’m starting my treasure hunt right now, Thanks a lot, Lynn! Althougth I don’t aim for a training manual, I found your information very valuable to organize any task you want to accomplish! After, a website and a blog must be very organized. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lynn Silva

Hey Carlos!

I’m so glad you found the article useful. I wish you the best of luck on your own ‘treasure hunt!’ Thanks for reading and commenting. : )

Lani Carroll

Thank you, Lynn. This was a great post–really useful!

Lynn Silva

Hi Lani! : )

So happy you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for your comment!

Gary Korisko

Nicely done, Lynn!

So often “creative types” are averse to processes and manuals and things of that nature. That is, until they see what it can do for them. I also loved the “treasure hunt” thing. What a cool perspective-changer. Good post. Congrats!!

Lynn Silva

Hi Gary! : )
YES you hit the nail on the head with the statement:

โ€œ…creative types are averse to processes and manuals and things of that nature.”

There are some days that I sit down to do something and EWWWY, I just don’t have the mental energy to follow it through. If I didn’t have a list of steps, I’m telling you, I wouldn’t get half of the things done that need attention. For some reason, if it’s all organized step by step, even in the foulest of moods, I’m more able to complete the task. Having it written down saves so much mental energy.

Thanks so much for reading and for your comment. : )

D Kendra Franceso

I forgot to mention: this is so timely for me!

I used to design and create wire jewelry, until arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome hollered, “Enough!” I’ve been floundering since, unwilling to work for someone else and unable to see beyond the “failure” of the design business.

By necessity, I have a part-time job to support myself. This last Sunday, during a lull at work, I was feeling the lowest possible about ever making a living as an independent, freelance writer.

I thought about that jewelry business (closed in 2009). And suddenly saw everything I’d actually done RIGHT. I bought some 3×5 index cards. I wrote down the main idea of EVERYTHING I did in that business. One idea per card.

“Studied marketing.” “Studied competition” “Developed my probable market.” “Discovered secondary market after only a few weeks.” “Developed price points and for what.” “Built relationships with vendors.” “Cultivated clientele: regulars, repeats and uniques.” And so on. My idea was to amplify it later. For now, I just wanted to get it all down.

I used 61 cards! In only a half-hour of concentrating on it. (I think I missed a few things, but they’ll come to me.) Then, I wondered how to begin fleshing it out. How meticulous I wanted to get.

On an email tip from Danny Iny, I click over to your article: a full-scale tutorial on how to write a training manual. On how to write it out. To put the business into a readable, manageable manual. For myself, if no one else. Between you and Kurt Frankenburg (and a Sunday lull), I now have the confidence that I WILL make it as a writer.

Thank you!


Lynn Silva

I am SO fist pumping the air right now Kendra!!!! Do you realize what those cards did? Before you started, you were in somewhat of a frustrated state. By doing this exercise with the cards, you pulled yourself out of that…and triggered some passion, confidence and productivity!!!! THAT is using your mental skills…and THAT is what successful people just do automatically.

Successful people have tons of systems in place. What’s amazing to me is that when you ask them what systems, or routines they use, they don’t really understand what you’re asking. This is because it’s just automatic for them. Just like it was almost automatic for you to just grab those cards and make your list. You’re well on your way!

And Kendra! YES you are making it as a writer right now! Please keep in touch. You’re amazing. : )


From all your suggestions I love the art of copy and paste! It’s easy and very fast ๐Ÿ™‚

Lynn Silva

Hi Cristina! : )

There are a few things that I really depend upon to set up systems and do my work. Evernote, a positive state of mind, and most definitely copy and paste!!!

Thank you for reading and commenting!

Jennifer Rodriguez

I really liked this post because it gives us the nuts and bolts of running a business and many times, business gurus just assume that you can figure this stuff out by yourself and they don’t bother to give you this type of practical, down to earth information. But I would say that this is the type of information a lot of beginner entrepreneurs need and even seasoned entrepreneurs needs this type of info to tweak the systems that they already have in place. Thank you Ms. Lynn Silva! We all needed this!

Lynn Silva

Hi Jennifer! : )

I am so glad that you found this useful and yes, sometimes the ‘gurus’ don’t realize they need to strip things down into simple terms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked WordPress for help on something I need to do on my site. They respond with a very brief answer that entails terms I’ve never heard of and codes that mean nothing to me!

The most important thing to remember when you’re setting up a system or a process is that you MUST get inside the mind of the reader. Constantly ask yourself what it is THEY need to take the next step. And most of all, don’t worry about big sophisticated words! : )

Neil Eldred

Thanks for the great article Lynn. I can certainly use for when I build websites. But I plan on printing out for my stff at work. None of our processes are documented. This is a great way to get started.

Lynn Silva

Hey Neil! : )

For me, having step by step directions for all aspects of a website is paramount! When I first started, I didn’t write down things. For example, when you want to embed your sign up form into your current post. Ay ay ay. I didn’t write it down and so for every post I did, I’d have to re-learn the process! So now, I have a little notebook right here that has all kinds of these little processes written down. It’s not fancy, just handwritten and separated by those colored sticky tabs. WHAT a time-saver!

For work, something like this could be a gold mine for employees. So best of luck in setting them up and don’t hesitate to contact me. I have all kinds of tricks up my sleeve! ; )

Tommy Walker

Lynn, I am very proud of you. You’ve come a long way, and this post is a testament to that.

Thank you for putting this together. I will be sure to include it in the onboarding process for new clients in my own training materials ๐Ÿ™‚

Lynn Silva

Well Tommy Walker….I could not ask for a higher compliment. Shall I laugh, cry or fist pump??? I say fist pump!!! You and Sophie were the foundation for the entire thing.

Many many thanks to everything you’ve helped with. You’ve been an amazing mentor and I’ll be forever grateful.


Wow, that was a very good read. I’ve learned a lot. Thank you.

Lynn Silva

Thank you Young and thanks so much for commenting. : )

Chris King

Oh, Lynn,
I am so delighted that I – even though very busy – devoted time to read every word in your excellent post. I so appreciate your mental acuity and all of the time and effort you have shared with us.

The table will stay close by and become a huge help. I also enjoyed and learned lots from the great Hangout. You three added so much to consider and think about.

Even all of the above comments appear above were great to read with your replies.You have made my day!

Lynn Silva

Hi Chris,

I’m not sure I have the appropriate words to respond to your comment, so I’ll start with THANK YOU.

Of all of the projects that I’ve taken on since starting my business, this, by far was absolutely the best for so many reasons.

We all are created to be amazing. When I was ill, I lost that…and so now, it is my purpose and my passion to help others never forget this.

I’m ecstatic that you enjoyed the post and the bonuses. Please keep in touch and again, THANK YOU for such kind, empowering words. : )

Meryl Hartstein


This was brilliant. As an entrepreneur and someone who has ADD., I found it extremely helpful. Having the step by step instructions clearly planned out makes a huge difference.

Meryl Hartstein

Lynn Silva

Hi Meryl!

Yes, the step by step instructions are my crutch especially on days when I have multiple things going on, major distractions and limited time. I don’t have to think…I just follow the steps. Such a lifesaver!

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! : )


Excellent post Lynn…I’ve been writing step-by-step stuff for years and love the concept of a treasure hunt (although for me personally research is a great term, ‘cuz I love to do research!). I’ve told so many clients to use terms that make sense to their readers…and so many have some kind of archaic “rules” they follow that it makes it damned near impossible to figure out what the headings mean. Arghhh.

I had people using systems that loved headings like “Before you begin” or “What you’ll need” only to have some oversight group insight that it be some pickle-in-the-behind term.

Have you ever read the book “Work the System” by Sam Carpenter? I loved that he equated having systems and written processes as “freedom.” Wish I had thought of it years ago when I was a full time technical writer. Dang!

Anyhoo, great article and I know it’s past the deadline for the “best of” and still wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your approach.

Laugh Lots, Love More!

Lynn Silva

Hi MamaRed! : )

I’m so honored that you took the time to leave a comment, even after the ‘deadline!’ I already won when my post was accepted, and your comment just enhanced that win.

You peaked my interest in your book mention so I’m off to hunt it down. Thanks for the tip!

Please keep in touch and again, THANK YOU for reading and commenting. : )


You’re most welcome…you deserved it! Last I checked Sam gave away a PDF version of the book. Let me know your thoughts, would love to hear from you.

Laugh Lots, Love More!


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