By: First Union
Understanding Business Operations within a Company
How a business operates is far from a cut-and-dry process. There are numerous moving parts under this umbrella term "business operations." Many of the activities that take place are interconnected, some are more isolated. Regardless, as a business owner, you need to be mindful of just how smoothly (or not/) your business runs. And this is dependent on the efficacy of its operations. From company to company, industry to industry, what business operations entail will differ. In this article, we look closer at some of the "nuts and bolts" that go into a business's operations.
Business Operations: Moving Toward a Definition
In creating a plan for their business, many business owners will include a brief overview of what they see as the primary business operations. This in many respects could be considered the essential blueprint forgetting that business up and running. And especially, if you are seeking investors, such a definition of your operations is going to be fairly important as they of course want to see how you intend to run and sustain your company. The outline of your operations might include such things as how you intend to manage staff, what equipment you will utilize, and how management will be structured, among many other operational components.
This, however, will merely be an overview of your business operations upon getting started. The term is far more nuanced than simply breaking down a few key components of the company and how it will run. As you roll up your sleeves and get to work in a manner of speaking, business operations will take on an evolving meaning, encompassing a wide variety of elements within the business. So again, this initial summary of your business operations stands mainly as a guide for you and as an inside glimpse for potential investors—be prepared to adapt and change as the company matures.
Keep in mind too, that as the company matures it will also inevitably grow. What may have begun as a single-person endeavor, could expand to 3, 4, or 10 people. This is why the evolution of your business operations is so critical. What worked for a one-person company is likely not going to cut it with multiple employees on staff. Delegation is also a central component of your business operations. If as a solo operator you are used to doing pretty much everything within the business, it may be difficult to let some of those responsibilities go. However, a growing company cannot sustain itself with one person taking on everything. You have to trust your team and assign tasks as required.
The Various Operations Within a Company
As noted, business operations are going to be different from one company to the next. Everything from industry to location, to business structure and beyond will dictate what your particular operations look like. That said, there are a few common principles when it comes to business operations that pertain to most companies.
- Structuring the company's foundation. Just as you wouldn't build a house on a weak or crumbling foundation, you would not build a business on one either. Perhaps one of the most consequential parts of your business operations is structuring that foundation to last. This will involve team creation as well as the outlining of your company vision and mission, among other factors.
- Speaking of your team…Creating a dynamic team begins with understanding who is right for the job. Choose the wrong person for the wrong job and it can throw the entire dynamic off. Know when you're delegating and exactly who you're delegating to.
- Utilizing data and technology. These are both a huge part of how your business operates. If you are not taking advantage of available data and the latest technology to help make your life easier and the company run more efficiently, then you need to revisit this part of your business operations.
- Listening to feedback. When you do have a solid team in place and you trust them in terms of what they do, then you need to listen to them… listen to them. They see things that perhaps you don't. They may be aware of gaps and inefficiencies that if addressed could help amp up your operations across the board.
- Pay careful attention to customer service. You are in business after all because of your customers. If you are not treating them accordingly, you will lose those customers and ultimately be out of business. Customer service should be a top priority for any company's business operational focus.
- Setting goals and making plans. Both in the short and long term, you want to have actionable plans and realistic goals that you can set your sights on. This way too, you realize better when your company may need to adapt to meet such benchmarks.
Business Operations Functions
The actual functions associated with your business operations may be subject to change; that said, however, in getting started with your endeavor you want to be sure you have a firm handle on how exactly you will approach certain operational functions and what outcomes you consequently expect from doing so effectively. And as with the various strategies connected to business operations, these functions do vary from one business to the next, though some are pretty common to all companies.
- Keeping the communication lines open. Having open and effective communications strategies in place is essential to the success of any company.
- Management should be trained in managing. Leaders are born to some extent, but they also need nurturing and training—this should without question be a part of your business operations strategy.
- Auditing your business processes; you constantly want to be assessing and reassessing how well something is working or not working so you can adjust when needed.
- Budgeting for your business. Budgeting is an essential part of any operation. This is tied to the "lifeblood" of your business after all.
- Performing contract reviews—more often than not. Contract needs do change with the changing needs of the business.
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