What are business operations?
Business operations are what makes your business run. It’s the foundation of your business; it supports all the business’s moving pieces, your goals, what you offer, and how you deliver it.
Business operations is the way you go about your day-to-day business; it’s your process and systems for doing ALL THE THINGS; it’s how you deliver your service to a client, it’s how you post to Instagram, it’s how you send a newsletter, it’s how you manage your inbox, it’s how your business runs and exists.
Your business operations are the foundation for growing the business you dream of. It’s what supports your goals, missions, and vision as an entrepreneur.
Business operations is one of those areas it’s easy to not really put much thought into beyond getting the essential tool or completing the task. But here’s the thing while all businesses have operations, not all businesses understand or optimize their operations.
Having organized, intentional, and optimized business operations means your business runs better. You have more time and mental energy to focus on what’s core to your business. It means not feeling like a hot mess, and like you are just surviving another day in your business. It means you feel like the boss.
Having solid business operations is the fine line between thriving or just surviving in building a business.
When you are just starting your business it’s easy to think, hey I can manage this, I can remember what needs to be done each day, who needs to be followed up with, or where those files are stored. I have tools to get the basics done; I don’t need to have more structure in my business. I don’t need to add the extra step of documenting, organizing, and systemizing what I do because I’m the only one doing it, and I know what I’m doing.
But, my friend that is a very slippery slope you are going down. As your business grows, as you expand your visibility, your goals get bigger, the harder it’s going to be to keep it all in your head.
And what happens is you start to get more clients, you have more on your plate, your dreams grow bigger and you soon realize you don’t have the structure you need to support it, and guess what! Because you are in growth mode, you don’t have the time to step back and put in the structure you need.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is start NOW! Start your business off with a strong foundation of optimized and organized operations so it’s there to support you as your business grows and flourishes.
The 6 Essential Categories to Business Operations
Because business operations is really ALL THE THINGS I want to give you some structure when thinking about your operations. I’ve divided business operations into 6 main categories:
OFFERS: client management, service delivery, sales processes
MARKETING: content, social media, email marketing
INFORMATION: digital files, passwords, inbox management, finance + legal
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT: scheduling, organization of data, tasks, to-do + PEOPLE STYEMS
STRATEGIC PLANNING: data tracking, reviewing and evaluating, planning systems
TOOLS: any other tools you use to run your business
All of these categories work together to support your business; they are not stand-alone categories. I’m going to talk a little about what types of tasks go into each category to support your business, to give you an idea of each category; they clearly don’t include every single detail of running a business.
You can’t have a business without something to sell, and you have to be able to deliver that something. That’s your offer operations and include things like
- Sales processes
- Client management
- Service delivery
- Project timelines/management
- Appointment scheduling
These are all the efforts you use to attract your clients; to become a go-to on your topic of expertise.
- Content marketing
- Guest collaborations (podcasts, posts, summits, etc)
- Social media posting
- Email marketing
- Sales Funnels
This is all the “other” things you utilize to run your business, that don’t fit into the other categories.
The most important sub-category of this being finances + legal, your accounting and contracts part of your business.
- Client contracts
- Terms and Conditions
- Digital files
- Brand Assets
- Inbox management
Which is closely related to strategic planning, but it’s the day-to-day of your business. Business management is where the plan takes action, but it’s also routine tasks, things that aren’t necessarily separate goals.
- Organization of data, tasks, to-do
- How, when, and by who are tasks going to get done for your business
A part of this category is PEOPLE SYSTEMS, this when you look to take ALL the doing off your plate.
Now if you are still a solopreneur, then you don’t have to worry about the people systems side yet! But it’s always important to build your business operations around eventually hiring a team. Your success in growing your business with team members will be much better if you have made solid processes before you need that team.
And to be clear a team, can be contractors who may only work for a few hours a week on your business or on a project basis. People sometimes think team and they think full-time employees (which yes that’s one route), but as you grow your business, you can build a team slowly and on a smaller scale to match your needs.
But however, you view the word “team” or how you hire, this category will be how you manage these people.
- How will you find them
- How will you train them
- How will pay them
- How will be communicated to them
- How will you evaluate their performance
- How will handle them if they aren’t a good fit
This is your roadmap. This helps guide where you focus your time, where your business is going, how it’s going to get there, and what’s working or not working.
Things included in strategic planning:
- Planning systems (where does your plan live) + how/when you plan
- Data tracking/ROIs
- Yearly goals
- 90-day goals
- Financial goals + projections
- Offer evaluation
- Time/team allocation
Tools are not really their own separate category; they are involved in all the above categories. Tools are an important component to running your business, even a pen and paper is a tool; your laptop is a tool. You can’t run a business without them.
It’s important, though when choosing tools that they are able to work together. You would want to, for example, to pick a email marketing service that wouldn’t work with your website platform, or a payment processor that isn’t compatible with your invoicing system.
Want the full list of tools I utilize for my business? Plus tips on how to confidently pick tools for your business? Find this and more in the HUSTLE HAPPIER HUB OF OPERATIONS.
So, how do you get started?
The lists under each category above give you an idea about what sorts of tasks/processes would be included; it’s not even close to being ALL THE THINGS. But I hope this gives you an idea of how urgent paying attention to how all these areas function in your business and that creating processes and systems for all these moving pieces is SUPER important.
Join me in the HUSTLE HAPPIER HUB OF OPERATIONS to get started with resources to establish, organize, and optimize your business operations. You can learn more about how to use the 6 Essentials Of Business Operations framework, in the Starting Strong workshop available in the hub.