This seems like a long overdue post, and there will most likely be similarly themed blogs posted sporadically in the future. Operations in general receive many misconceptions and many people who do not work directly within the field, have a very vague understanding of the methodologies. For this reason, I would like to address a few Operations-related questions.
#1. How do you design business operations for start-ups?
Solopreneurs and people in the beginning phases of their start-up are one of our favorite types of clients to work with. Involving an operational leader early in your business process allows for no bad habits to be formed prior to implementing good ones. This allows for an easier transition for everyone involved. It is important that you have a few things clearly understood prior to hiring a typical operational consultant (Operations Simplified is designed to assist with these areas of the start up process as well – more on that later). The first objection is vision, you should have a clear understanding of your mission and business goals before you try to scale. If you're unsure of your core values, your target market, and your offerings, it will be difficult for an operationalist to implement strategies as they will be confused as well.
This being said, if you feel good about the direction your business is heading, but simply don't have the background to take it to the next level – a better operational foundation may be exactly what you need. Operations are designed and catered individually per company, but there is a strategic method to operations from scratch. This is something we do really well with Operations Simplified, through a six-week, 4-step approach. Clarity is something that is really important to success. If you are clear on your end, the operation consultant should be ready to implement.
#2. How does a business leader know of their issue is strategic or operational?
It's really important to understand the differences and similarities of these two departments because with both functioning properly, they propel each other forward in a synchronous manner and your business' likeliness to succeed excels.
The simple answer, is that operations are the day to day goals. These goals are based around the ability to function in a streamlined and efficient manner, that will maximize your sales and deliverables. Strategy is the longer term plan. Often times this means that strategy is asking yourself how you could improve your operations on a broader scale. What can you change about your operations that will allow you to grow and hit your goals? There may not necessarily be something wrong with how you're functioning day-to-day operationally, but while thinking about your projected milestones, is there anything strategically that you could be doing that could get you there faster? With greater outcome?
You may have a strategy issue if you have a problem with your mission, your goals, and how you get there…
Are you setting the bar too high and being historically dissappointed? Change your strategy.
Are you hitting your goals at an earlier date than projected, and with ease? Change your goal and your strategy.
You may have an operational issue if your team is not on the same page; if your training, hiring, and on-boarding are costing you too much money, and holding you back from hitting your goals…. change your operations.
#3. Does Operations Simplified provide training and professional development?
Yes! Operations Simplified is so much more than just purchasing templates and figuring it out from there. It is a six-week COACHING service with a team that listens, helps, and understands each of your areas of confusion. We guarantee that if you show us that you are dedicated, and willing to work even when it gets tough, you will have the results you want and need. We will work as hard as you do to get you there.
Many of our clients come to us with businesses that are in sticky situations. They have been wildly successful up to a point, but can't seem to break that barrier. This is because they had a wonderful idea, and a great team, but no operational foundation. These entrepreneurs were putting in fourteen hour workdays to make sure their business had what it needed. This is what we don't want to see. Operations Simplified trains you and your employees alike in proper business functionality so that you can enjoy life both personally and professionally.
#5. What are common operational issues within a business?
Documentation. Standardization. Staffing.
Documentation and standardization often go hand-in-hand. In a company with different departments, and a certain amount of employees, there comes a point where everyone becomes stuck in their own workdays and spends a lot of time with their head down. This is great because it means these people are being productive in their own positions. However, without a very study operational foundation cross-functionally, it is easy for your team to get out of sync. We teach a specific naming system of documents that allows teams to easily search and gain access to any type of documentation. We teach process writing always, so that whoever may join the team, or may need to pick up some slack to help out a fellow colleague, can do so simply by referencing an SOP. This also provides your company with a safety net if said employee were to ever jump-ship. You never want to be in a position where you feel your business couldn't function without a certain player, but you aren't quite sure what that person did to keep everything glued together.
Lastly, staffing seems to be a reoccurring problem. If your business functions for a certain amount of time without a sturdy operational system, you may find yourself in high pressure situations, which leads to hasty decision making. When in comes to hiring, you never want to be in that situation. If you are hiring, you want to be sure that you have enough wiggle room to ensure you find the right fit, both professionally and culturally (see previous posts about the importance of business culture).
#6. What are the best books for business operations?
If you follow Ops Agency closely, you know that we have a company book club. We always take suggestions for new ideas, but here's a list of a few we've loved!
- 18 Minutes, Peter Bregman
- Who Moved My Cheese?, Dr. Spencer Johnson
- 2 Second Lean, Paul A. Akers
- Making Work Visible, Dominica DeGrandis
- Matching Supply with Demand, Gerard Cachon
Please comment below if you have any questions you'd like featured in our next FAQ post, and head over to operationsagency.com/class if you'd like to learn more information about the services we provide.
See ya inside.