Guide To Running A Business

3. Defining Business Operations and Why They Matter to You

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Running A Business

Defining Business Operations and Why They Matter to You

Mar 21, 2023 • 9 min read
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      Running a successful business requires more than just offering your customers high-quality goods and services. The back-end operations of your business are equally vital in creating value for your customers and ensuring future prosperity. It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of all your business operations and to recognize how they work together in strengthening your bottom line. 

      Business operations are the day-to-day processes and routine tasks that make up your business. They are the framework for product development, hiring, training, purchasing, inventory management, marketing, customer support, and sales. In order to be effective, operations require strategic planning, execution, and consistent monitoring. Structure them correctly and you will successfully minimize costs, maximize productivity, and boost your customer satisfaction—all of which are crucial for success.

      Your operations will involve many different activities that vary depending on your industry. But, they all serve the same goal of improving:

      • Efficiency
      • Efficacy 
      • Profitability

      So, what are the key elements that comprise your business operations? How do they relate to one another? And how can you continually improve upon them to save time and money?

      Below you will find answers to all of these questions, helping you understand your business’ operations and why they are critical for success.

      Elements of business operations.

      You’ve decided which business plan is best for you. You have your blueprint and your product or service, and you’re ready to grow. Next, you need to understand the elements that will comprise your operations moving forward to make them efficient and effective and make you profitable. 

      Business operations can be broken down into three important categories:

      1. Processes

      Your processes are the engine of your machine. They’re the activities that take place at every level of your business with a clear beginning and end. When your desired output is achieved, the process begins again. Revolution and evolution. 

      Processes lead to:

      • Standardization and streamlining
      • Employees operating confidently within clear, precise roles
      • Better internal monitoring, research, and strategy development
      • Customer expectations

      Say you’ve hired a new employee to handle product returns, and wisely, you already have a streamlined process in place. This process could look like the following: 

      1. Receiving a return request
      2. Issuing a new product or refund
      3. Analyzing similar return data
      4. Following up with customer support 

      By having streamlined processes in place, you can easily onboard new team members, reduce redundancy, save money, and meet customer expectations.

      2. Human resources

      The most important element of any organization is people. Ensuring you have competent staff is a priority. Your business operations are dependent upon proper team-building, integration, and making each employee feel valued.

      3. Technology

      Utilizing technology to streamline processes is critical. For example, offering multiple payment methods and providing your employees with modern point-of-sale systems (POS), content management systems (CMS), and intranet software.

      Being familiar with these essential elements of business operations is integral to your bottom line’s growth, but they do not exist in a vacuum. It is necessary to also understand how your operations connect and complement each other, giving a frame to the whole structure. 

      How business options are interrelated.

      Your business operations are interconnected and interdependent. For instance, a marketing cycle increases demand, which in turn impacts inventory levels and affects both manufacturing and supply chain operations.

      Understanding these relationships is imperative not only for buttressing your bottom line, but also for creating communication channels within your business that ensure you’re running efficiently and effectively.

      Let’s look at an example…

      Say you own an ecommerce store. Your business specializes in handcrafted goods, and you notice you are overstocking certain products. This has led to over-expenditure on raw materials, wasted resources, and absorbed much-needed inventory space.

      To solve this problem, you implement a just-in-time (JIT) inventory management system to optimize inventory levels. You now purchase raw materials on an order-by-order basis. This allows you to free up working capital, reduce waste, and increase profitability.

      You’ve lowered costs and increased your cash flow. However, your sales forecasting operation is not comprehensive enough to keep up with the supply chain requirements of a JIT system. So, you upgrade your sales team’s forecasting tools and open communication channels with your logistics team. Updating your inventory operation has had a ripple effect on several other operations within your business. If you’re operationally savvy, you can use this opportunity to improve your operations across the board, saving time and money.

      This leads us to an exceptionally vital, yet often overlooked, aspect of business operations: continual improvement for continual success.

      How to improve your business operations.

      You’ve defined your relevant operations. You understand their components. You’ve implemented them and are running more efficiently than ever. But, what now? Are there ways to improve your business operations? The answer is: yes, and it’s important to do so.

      There are always ways to improve, adapt, save costs, and increase profitability. As your business grows, you will need to evolve your processes. If you don’t, you risk stagnation, choking the growth of your bottom line.

      Here are five ways you can improve your business operations:

      1. Optimize 

      Your first iterations may be slow and inefficient. Tasks that take several days may be able to be completed in only a few hours. Train your team members to report on their respective systems, use error reporting to identify bottlenecks, visualize your data with graphs, and develop innovative strategies. This will minimize overhead costs.

      2. Audit 

      Get a detailed account of each operation. Performing an audit is a great way to streamline your processes. Audits show where you can cut costs, give better customer service, and improve quality control.

      3. Invest 

      Explore opportunities that give your employees more time to focus on their critical tasks and acquire tools that help with automation, reducing labor costs.

      4. Analyze

      Evaluating key performance indicators (KPIs) is a great way to navigate trends within your business and amongst your competitors. Measure twice, cut once.

      5. Feedback 

      Be mindful of what your team members have to say. Customer feedback is also imperative to understanding your market and expectations. Encourage consistent feedback to promote a culture of continuous improvement.

      A successful operation.

      Pay attention to your business operations. Structure them, implement them, and continually scrutinize them. Time is money. So take the time now to systematize your business and save money later.

      Fully realize your business’ potential and apply for a small business loan from one of 75+ leading lenders in just 15 minutes, at no cost. Apply now.

      About the author
      Samuel Good

      Samuel Good has more than five years of managerial and startup experience through his role as co-owner and chief operating officer of Healthy Growth Vending, a business he sold in 2021. Samuel now writes SEO content, with a history in crafting B2B and B2C subject matter that focuses on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Samuel’s educational background includes a BMgmt from Dalhousie University and a certificate in Strategic Copywriting from the University of Toronto.

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