Business operations is a complex issue be it at a startup level or at established organizations. But, would you want to extend your product line or open a new branch in an upcoming neighbourhood? Are you looking forward to resolving a purchasing inefficiency or improve customer loyalty? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are reading the right guide – It is what we call business operations.
Starting a new business can be an exciting adventure. There is a tremendous amount of work involved and key tasks that need to be established to get your startup off the ground. This can be incredibly stressful for entrepreneurs, especially those who don’t have a vast experience of different operations in a business.
In the last guide, we talked about how to define role in a startup company. This guide is quite interesting. We have prepared it to help you get a better understanding of what business operations involve and basic business operations every entrepreneur must prepare for. We shall look at ways to automate a business using online tools, tips to enhance the company’s workflow and benefits that a startup stands to get with enhanced operations management.
What is Business Operations?
Business operations refer to the process of managing the inner tasks of a business so that it can run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The specific tasks in your operations will depend on the industry you are involved in, and the stage of your company.
Business operations fall under operations management. Operations management involves the administration of business practices to create the highest level of efficiency that can be achieved in an organization.
Operations management deals with converting materials and labour into goods and services in the most efficient manner. Organizations try to professionally balance cost and revenue to maximize net operating profits.
For any startup, business operations take into account processes, staffing, location, equipment, and technology. The process is important because it defined the impact on productivity and efficiency.
Processes and tasks that are done manually can be enhanced to be more efficient with the use of software and automation tools. Any startup company should have an operations department tasked with studying and identifying areas for improvement, consolidating resources and cutting costs.
6 Fundamentals of Business Management
It is very important to have a true passion for any business you are managing. But passion alone is not enough. You need to have core business skills and launch your startup in the most appropriate manner, to stand a chance of surviving for the long term.
You need to have a good understanding of business planning, finance, strategy, and marketing. If you plan to hire people to help you in running your business, you must ensure you have appropriate leadership and communication skills to keep your team organized and motivated.
Starting and managing a business takes a great deal of business knowledge and experience. Here are 6 key things you must get right.
One of the greatest assets your company will have is human resources. How you lead, motivate and organize your staff will play a huge impact on determining the success your company can achieve.
You need to manage people in the right manner. You need to learn key leadership and communication skills to help you become a successful leader and thus build an organization that can last for a long time.
Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scene when a new product is being introduced to the market? Managing any form of supply chain and ensuring production meets the demands of the market under tight conditions is one of the most important aspects that determine the success of production based businesses.
With operations management, you work to ensure you explore all key aspects of a business including capacity planning, quality assurance, productivity analysis, all under the concept of lean management.
Accounting deals with the proper management of day to day transactions and finances of an organization. Proper accounting is key to ensure that all business transactions are recorded in the right manner and that expenses have been optimized to maximize profit. Management needs to have access to managerial accounting reports to make strategic financial decisions affecting the health of a startup.
Strategy deals with analyzing and formulating ways to help your business compete favorably in the market and stay ahead of the pack. Any startup looking forward to entering the market needs to evaluate if they are able to adapt to changing the business environment and if they are able to spot opportunities and capitalize on them earlier than any competitor.
Strategic management deals with all aspects of developing business strategies, analyzing competition, and analyzing all noble ways a business can use to gain a competitive advantage in the market.
The growth and maintenance of any business are based on having a key source of funding to finance all operations a business undertakes. Businesses need to make a decision on a major purchase, investments, mergers, acquisitions among others.
Smart financial planning and decision making is key to ensuring you create value for your organization. Proper financial management deals with learning all tools of the trade to use in managing capital and maximizing the value of a business.
Marketing is much more than simply advertising a product or service. You need to identify your ideal customers and interact with them in the right way. You need to understand their changing needs and desires and deliver a very strong value proposition.
With marketing management, business owners need to learn key concepts in marketing, including targeting, segmentation, differentiation, product positioning among others. Real-world marketing scenarios will help you to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Ways to Automate your Entire Business Using Online Tools
Running a business can be quite hectic when you figure out all aspects that need to be gotten right. You can get out of the rat race and help yourself by automating your company and focus on the most important aspects of growth and management.
To make the best use of automating your business, here are some guidelines to help you in the process.
Setting up your business
When automating your business, you should look for ways that can make your business operations be smooth and seamless. What practices would you need to improve on? What tasks are repetitive and in need of streamlining?
You need to document how much time and money it takes to do tasks manually. Consider different forms of automation that can help your business. Consider all the activities that can be grouped together for better operations.
At this particular time, you should that for your business to generate revenue, it needs good marketing. The Internet has taken over and is now embedded in our day to day tasks. The power of online marketing cannot be overstated.
When it comes to marketing, consider automating most of your tasks. Popular email marketing tools such as Mail Chimp and AWeber can be very efficient in automating your email marketing campaigns.
You can use a tool such as ClickMagic to track and optimize all your marketing in one place.
Businesses that are involved in blogging and content creation should look for content management applications such as WordPress to automate processes, generate content and schedule posting.
Administration and Office
There is a lot of tedious administrative work that startups have to deal with. When these tasks are not properly managed, they can slow down a company. The good news is that there are many online tools that can be used to automate most tasks.
Take for example Evernote, a popular and simple program to help your business keep notes, contact logs, task management and accounts. If you want to operate your business on the cloud, applications such as Dropbox, Amazon Web Services, Digital Ocean, are all at your disposal.
Customers and Contacts
You can make use of tools such as Contact Form 7 to allow people to connect with your company, and business seamlessly. You can even funnel responses to ensure that they are reaching the right person.
You can use tools to create FAQs, to ensure you answer questions directed to your site in the most efficient manner. You can use CRM applications such as Salesforce to ensure that you provide the right attention and care to your customers.
Tasks and Projects
Another good way to automate your business is by ensuring you use tasks and project tools. Sites such as Trello can be very efficient in ensuring your assign tasks to the right people, you manage work in the most efficient manner and that all deadlines are met.
Why your startup should consider outsourcing some operations
Meeting the demands of today’s customers can be a hectic process. You will need the help of experienced teams that can work together to deliver on a common goal. The market is continuously evolving and this can present a huge challenge for startups.
Many businesses are now considering outsourcing as a strategic and cost-effective method to gain a competitive edge. Here are some of the reasons outsourcing can be an excellent choice for startups.
Many startups do not last because of financial issues. Due to this fact, outsourcing can be a great way to minimize operational expenses and money. Outsourced software development teams can save you a lot of money and time in many ways.
There is no need to go through the traditional hiring process and incur a lot of expenses when you can just outsource to your teams. The outsourcing partner you choose will be tasked with selecting the most ideal people who can be used to deliver on tasks you need.
When you outsource, you give your tasks to a team that is specifically created to offer your tasks. You will be giving work to a team that has a huge experience in doing just the same thing. You will have a team that is cohesive and can work without distractions, and this enhances productivity, leading to reduced chances for errors.
Hit the Market Faster
The ultimate goal of any startup is to be able to hit the market with a bang within the shortest time frame. If they are developing a product, say a software product, such a product can lag and be behind schedule to launch date.
One of the best ways to go about it is to give the task for an experienced team under outsourcing. That way, you will not have to deal with aspects such as hiring, training, and onboarding new people to help you with development.
Access to a wide pool of talent
One of the biggest benefits of the internet is globalization, which has led to increased options when it comes to talent sourcing. The physical location of a business is no longer a restriction when it comes to choosing an outsourcing company to help you manage tasks.
The only thing you will need to care about is different time zones for outsourced teams, to ensure proper scheduling and communication on your tasks. With proper outsourcing, startups stand to benefit a lot from reduced costs, time-saving and saving on other overheads.
When you properly utilize the right tools and techniques in operations management, you greatly stand to benefit from enhanced profitability tracking, improved manufacturing, compliance to regulations, seamless office and administrative tasks among others.
Tips to Enhance a Company’s Workflow
Businesses and organizations face a daily challenge to do more in terms of planning and accomplishing tasks. Economists and psychologists have spent hundreds of hours studying ways to improve productivity and daily workflow.
One of the best ways organizations can achieve a high rate of productivity is by focusing on its staff and improving them. Another way is to look at all processes in a business, how they function and communicate with each other, and identify flaws that need improvement.
Work can be a place of chaos and constant frustrations. You can sort a lot of piles of paperwork, but never see an end to constant emails coming your way. You do not need to endure all this frustration every day.
Here are some few tweaks you can make to improve workflow and watch your office productivity grow;
For any business to run smoothly, communication is key. It is important for anyone in an organization to understand rules and processes. Any successful organization encourages employees to let each other know what they are working on and answers all emerging questions.
Without proper communication, it is easy to think others are working on a particular task, but in reality, it’s lagging behind. Communication is key to ensure all tasks are accomplished in the right manner, and that work in completed on time.
For many employees, staying on task seems to be a very challenging affair. While in their line of work, employees face many distractions be it calls, social media, and other channels. When employees lose focus on what they are working for, it takes a significant amount of time to bring that focus back.
It is important to have frequent breaks for employees to ensure they can refresh their minds before resuming to tackle the work ahead. Employees need also to be assigned sizeable tasks so that they don’t feel overburdened.
To enhance business processes in an organization, it is important to ensure that employees are well trained. When they are trained on rules and processes in a company, they will have a feeling of comfort and confidence, and be less intimidated by work.
When employees are intimidated by work ahead, be it because there is a lot on their desk, or because they don’t have the right skills to tackle the tasks ahead, they tend to procrastinate, hence losing efficiency, productivity and vital time.
Be more organized
Being organized is key to ensuring processes run smoothly. Being organized has many benefits. Staying organized may sometimes seem like an overwhelming task, but with a little practice, you can achieve the best state of the organization.
Organizing an office doesn’t necessarily mean cleaning a workspace. It includes aspects such as scheduling your time and having a keen routine you have to follow. When you are organized, you are less likely to waste time and you can accomplish tasks and processes faster.
Above all, an organization will not be able to achieve the optimal levels of operations efficiency its staff is not well organized and disciplined. Employees need to be well compensated and motivated to deliver the best results. They need to have a free spirit. They need to remove all unnecessary stress, thoughts, and feelings and focus on the tasks ahead.
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