Operations Toolbox

Operations Management: Your Path to Achieving Greater Business Flexibility and Growth

July 25, 2023 Tonya D. Episode 7
Operations Toolbox
Operations Management: Your Path to Achieving Greater Business Flexibility and Growth
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine transforming your solo venture into a triumph of efficiency, optimizing costs, boosting customer satisfaction, and enhancing business flexibility - sounds unbelievable, right? 

Brace yourself, because that's exactly what you're about to learn in our chat today about the powerful impact of streamlined business operations! 

We're busting the myth that operations management is a corporate beast, and we're showing you how it can be the game-changing hero for solo entrepreneurs.

And because we know solo entrepreneurship can sometimes feel like a lonely island, we're inviting you to join the Savvy Operations Society Membership for 25% off your first month. The SOS membership was designed specifically for 

If you enjoyed this episode, leave us a five-star rating and a review. I'd love to know how this show inspired you to take action in your business.

You can also follow me on LinkedIn @tonyadharrison and Instagram @cignalpartners for quick tips to implement systems & structure that will propel your business forward and allow you more time freedom.

Tonya D. Harrison:

Hello and welcome to the operations toolbox, the go-to podcast for So welcome back. Today we're going to be diving deep into my world, the world of business operations, and we're going to be exploring how operations can be a game changer for solo pernures. So if you do not have your operations in order and you are a solo pernure, listen up. I'm your host and operations optimizer, the Harrison, and I'm excited to share some valuable insights with you. So let's go ahead and get started. I know I get a little giddy when we talk about business operations, but that's the whole reason I created this podcast. I love business operations and I enjoy sharing information with solo pernures to help them Build a successful business. So before we go too far, I want to make sure that we're all operating from the same place, that we are have the same definition when it comes to business operations. So there's a lot of benefits, there's a lot of opportunity loss and there's some tips that I am going to share with you at the end about how you can get started with Streamlining your operations. But first I want to make sure that we all understand what business operations are and and really why they matter. So business operations refer to the day-to-day activities and processes that are extremely Essential for running a business as efficiently as possible. Now, this sounds like something that we definitely need a solo pernures right? So this includes everything from managing your inventory, logistics for those of you that sell products to administrative tasks, customer Interactions, finance and human resources. So everything that is involved in the day-to-day Falls under the umbrella of business operations. So it's a lot, right. Efficient operations are the backbone of any successful business, as they ensure that resources are optimized, costs are minimized so we want to keep more of that revenue in our pocket and the overall workflow is streamlined. So this definition is the same regardless of the size of the business. But just based off that definition, you can understand why this is extremely important to solo pernures. Now that we are on the same page, let's talk about why business operations matter for solo pernures. Just from that definition, you already have a pretty good idea. But let's talk about solo pernure specifically. We find ourselves wearing multiple hats, or all of the hats in the beginning, and how can streamlining business operations be a game changer for you? That's probably the question that you have in your head. So we face unique challenges simply because, like I said, we are wearing multiple hats and we are trying to grow our business. So we are functioning as the CEO, as the administrative Assistant, as a marketing person, as the bookkeeper. We are wearing all of the hats within our business and it can be extremely difficult to really think about how you are going to take a step back and streamline your operations when you're in so deep doing all of the things. But I'm going to hang in there with me. At the end of this. I'm going to share some things that you can go ahead and start doing, so the importance of efficient operations cannot be overstated. Having well organized operations allows you to deliver products and services promptly. You can do this more accurately, meet customer demands effectively and adapt quickly to changes in the market and, as we saw from COVID, we need to be able to pivot, shift and do whatever we need to do as quickly as possible. If we do all of this not perfect, but if we do it well improve customer satisfaction, positive word of mouth and increase brand loyalty, which are all vital for long term success and which all impact our bottom line. Now I know we have a purpose. We are here to serve a certain group of people, but we are also here to make a living. Right, we want to make sure that we're doing it as efficiently as possible, and it can be really tough again as a solopreneur, but it can be done. So let's explore the specific benefits that solopreneurs can read from implementing efficient business operations. Right, and this is just a few. This isn't everything but number one time savings. With automated processes and streamlined workflows, you can spend more time on revenue generating tasks and you can actually have a personal life, like maybe you could say hello to your family every now and then and hang out at the cookout and do some of the things that you used to do. But it definitely saves you time. Cost optimization efficient operations help cut unnecessary costs, contributing to higher profit margins. So this is what I was saying about keeping more of what you make. We work extremely hard. Trying to generate revenue Operations is what helps you to keep more of those dollars in your pocket. Customer satisfaction smoother processes result in better customer experiences, fostering loyalty and positive word of mouth Right, and we know that that positive word of mouth is one of the most cost effective ways we can market our business. If somebody else is going out there and sharing the information, that's like one of the best ways, the most efficient ways, to market your business. Another benefit is business flexibility, so yours can quickly adapt to changing market conditions and take advantage of new opportunities. That's another thing that we have to be able to do so by being a small business. That is one of the benefits if we have our operations intact. I remember working for corporate, so when you work for a large organization fortune 500 organizations what you find is it takes a lot to pivot, to maneuver, because there's a lot of red tape, there's a lot of steps that you have to go through, whereas with us small businesses, solo pernures, we can pivot quicker if we have our operations in order. Okay, before we get into some of the things that you can implement, I want to talk to you a little bit about opportunity loss from any efficient operations. So many of you are probably losing money simply because you have any efficient operations. And let me just talk about what some of those, when you neglect your business operations there's, miss growth opportunities. So most of us, we want to grow. That's like, ultimately, what we want to do. Without streamline operations, it is going to be tough, it's going to be a struggle to efficiently obtain customers efficiently because you can get them, but efficiently obtain customers, efficiently service those customers and keep up with the demand right. So as you increase the number of people that you're seeing, you want to be able to keep up with the demand and also you're probably going to want to expand into new markets at some point in time. Another opportunity loss is directly in the pocket, so it's loss of revenue. Inefficiencies cost businesses 20 to 30% each year in revenue. For solo pernures and micro business owners, that number increases Also. Another loss is customer dissatisfaction. So if you have inefficient processes, this can lead to delays in delivering whatever it was that you said you were going to deliver and increased mistakes. So this is why having processes is extremely important, and this results in unhappy customers and loss of business, and we don't want that. We work too hard to get these customers. The last thing we want is to lose them or to have them be dissatisfied. And this one is, to me, is is the most important and it's the one that we put on the back burner, but it leads to overwhelm CEOs. So handling every aspect of the business alone will lead to burnout if you do it too long and then also is going to to lead to reduce productivity. So we don't want to stay in the zone of doing everything by ourselves for too long, and this is one of the things that I want to talk about in a few minutes about strategies to optimize your business operations. So I get it right, we may not all be ready to hire at the moment, but there are some things that we can do before we get to that point. Before we get into the strategies to optimize your business operations, I want to share with you the different areas, specifically what I'm talking about when I'm talking about operations. So I have a 90 day ops experience program and we walk people through what I call the five pillars of operational excellence. This is something that a framework that I've developed for working with my clients. The first area is productivity. We have to be as productive as possible as solo preneurs right out the gate, and there are some things that you can learn to do to help you produce more. The second pillar is planning. We have to be good at planning and working the plan. Most of the time, the plan works if you work it. So we have to be able to plan, because what happens is we will get easily distracted with everything that's going on online and in the market. So you want to have a plan that you could follow. So the first pillar is going to be productivity. The second pillar is planning. The third pillar is processes. We've talked a couple of times about the different effects of having processes. Whether you have no processes, or inefficient processes, or good processes, they all make a difference and they all impact your bottom line differently. So processes is definitely an area that you want to focus on when it comes to your operations. The fourth area is people, and here we're talking about all people. You write your team. If you have a team, your customers and any partners, people that you are collaborating with those are fall under the people umbrella. And then the last pillar is profits. Now, if we do the first four really well, we're already going to impact our profits, but then we're going to look at anything that we may have missed, that we could do to increase your profits. So those are the five specific areas that I'm really talking about, and the reason why I wanted to make that distinction is because business operations is so wide. Right, we're talking about the day to day activities, which includes like almost everything For me. I zone in on these five pillars and they impact your entire business. Okay, so now let's talk about some strategies for optimizing business operations and I'm going to keep it at a high level and some of these. In another podcast I'm going to go into really detailed information. But the very first thing that you want to do is you want to embrace technology. Just breathe with me. So here is the deal. A lot of people tense up when we talk about technology, but I want you to keep in mind that technology is here to support you. It doesn't dictate what you do and how you do it. It's to support you. So you want to utilize tools and software to automate repetitive tasks. That's like one of the main things or one of the first things that you want to do. And then you want to use them to manage your finances. Now, I'm not saying that you can't use spreadsheets, but it's really nice if you have a software like QuickBooks or Wave or Xero or something like that that you could have set up. That will help you with some of this, so that you're not doing it manually. And then you want to utilize SUSE and software to help you improve communication and this is communication with your team and with your clients and partners right. So, with all of the people that you deal with, start by streamlining your four core systems, which are and I talk about this in episode two of the Operations Toolbox podcast so the four core systems that you definitely want to make sure you have and they are optimized is your customer attraction and acquisition system, so this is the one that determines how you get customers and convert them consistently. The second one is the while delivery system. So, now that I have these customers, I want to make sure that I am wowing them with the product and the service that I am delivering. The third system is the retention and referral system. I either want to retain them and maybe get them to purchase something else with me, so I want to keep them as a customer, or I want to or and right because it's both or I want to have them refer me to other people. And then the last one is an optimization system, and this is the one that is usually missing, and this optimization system is going to help you to make sure that you are optimizing all of your systems and processes within your business. That's the first thing you want to do Embrace technology. The second thing is to outsource wisely. Now we're all at different stages, so when I first started, I couldn't hire a team. I couldn't have someone consistently on my team, and if that's where you are, that is okay. What I did was I started hiring for projects because I needed help and I didn't. I had no desire to learn everything in my business, but I needed to know enough in order to do what I needed to do. So I started hiring for projects. So maybe if I needed something updated on my website you know I'd have some updates that needed to happen I'd go to Fiverr and get somebody to help me, or I'd go to Upwork or I'd go to social media. So I've hired from a couple of different places, but on a project basis, right. I've even had administrative help on a project basis, right. So I record my processes and then have somebody transcribe them and put them into a actual procedure. So outsourcing wisely is definitely something that you could do. So I talked about having people do from a project in the beginning. Once you get more established or you start to have consistent revenue coming in, then maybe you could hire somebody maybe an administrative assistant or marketing assistant, whatever area it is that you need. So think about outsourcing some non-core activities that consume your time and resources, and once you do that, you'll be able to focus more on some of those revenue producing activities that you need to focus on as CEO. The third thing you want to consider is to invest in professional development. Now, this I want to say be careful with this, because the goal is not to become an expert in every area, but, like I said in the beginning, when you first start out, there's a lot of things that you need to know, and you may not be able to afford to hire someone, so you may want to start taking some courses or master classes and things like that to help to get you started in a couple of different areas. That's exactly what I did. My goal was never to become an expert in certain areas, but I needed to know enough to move my business forward. And then the next one is continuous improvement. This is a commitment that you have to make to yourself and your business that you are going to, on a regular basis, evaluate and refine your processes to ensure ongoing efficiency and growth. What's going to happen is, as you grow as a business, you're going to find that you need to reevaluate things. Some of the tools that you use today you may not be using a year from now and some of the processes may need to change and evolve. So you definitely want to make sure that you are continuously improving those things. And the fifth thing is hire a consultant or a coach. I, throughout the different stages of my business, I've hired different coaches to kind of help me in specific areas. You have to be willing to invest in yourself and in your business, just like you expect for your clients and your customers to invest in you. So there may be certain things that you want to hire for because you know what I'm just not really great at a certain thing, like, for instance, people that hire me as an operations consultant. They really don't have a business background or business operations when we're talking about systems and processes and technology, and that's not an area that they want to become an expert in. So they hire me to get things up and going and to train them and their team on the things that they need to know. Think about what you can hire someone to do. So those are five strategies for optimizing your business. To help you get started, go ahead, start with number one embrace technology, because that is going to get you the furthest like automating some things. It's really going to help free up some time so that you could really start focusing on the things that you could focus on, and not only that, like I said, so that you are not burning yourself out, okay. So there you have it, fellow solopreneurs. Efficient business operations are the key to unlocking success for solopreneurs. By optimizing your processes and embracing technology and focusing on growth, you can achieve remarkable results. All right, keep growing and I'll see you on the next episode. Bye.

Efficient Business Operations for Solo Entrepreneurs
Strategies for Optimizing Business Operations