Have you ever identified a family member as “the cog that holds all the pieces together”? In my family, that’s my mom–organizing family get-togethers, hosting birthday parties and just being that one constant who we all know we can turn to.
There’s a cog like this in your business too. A fundamental piece that ensures that tasks get done, customers get what they need and the business keeps moving forward.
In business, that cog is operations.
Operations – The invisible glue that holds the people, processes and systems together in a business.
When done well, operations will allow a company move faster, be more profitable and efficient and allow the visionary to stay in their CEO role of the company. Without operations, your business would fall apart.
As you think about building out and restructuring your business for 2019, I thought it would be helpful to really dive into what operations is and how it impacts your business.
Solopreneurs wear all the hats in a business, but as it grows they need to let go of some of the tasks. Those tasks are usually back-of-the-house, tasks that someone else can easily take over because they’re not client-facing or public.
Letting go of operational tasks allows the business owner to develop strategies and visions for where the business is going. It allows the CEO to develop the business and products or services, create front-facing content like videos and collaborate with other businesses.
This infographic illustrates the difference between front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house business activities.
Note: This infographic outlines what a service-based business looks like. Product-based businesses should add things like manufacturing, fulfillment, inventory management and delivery to the back-end.
Why You Need to Stay in the Front of the House
The CEO’s role is in the front of the house, where the client-facing activities take place. This is where the strategy takes place and the development of new products and services reign large.
The CEO is chiefly responsible for three things here: Connect, Create, and Content. Your business bears your name, or at the very least fulfills your mission and vision. It’s up to you to ensure that it continues moving in that direction. So stay up front and leave the back of the house to your director of operations to manage.
What the Back of the House Looks Like
The back of the house is where the “doing” takes place. And it’s often where CEOs get tripped up. Business owners are so in tune with their big ideas and dreams that they forget they need to actually do the things. That’s why you need someone or a team to take over the back of the house for you.
For a service-based business, the back of the house includes human resources, customer service, marketing, finance and data, legal, and project management.
And let me tell you: You can’t possibly do it all and do it all well–especially if you’re growing a business. Let’s break down each of these areas and talk about how you can possibly let go of them.
But first, a note. When you hire someone to handle your operations, you may be hiring a generalist. This is someone with leadership and project management skills who can manage different pieces of your business. They won’t necessarily be an expert in any one area, and that’s okay. The job of your director of operations is to manage those experts and integrate them into the team.The job of your director of operations is to manage those experts and integrate them into the team.Click To Tweet
As the visionary, you don’t have the time or bandwidth to manage your team; that’s what a director of operations is for. She will help you hire and build your team, ensure all necessary documents are in order, coordinate different team members, run payroll, handle the follow-up, communicate tasks and responsibilities and run team meetings. Again, this frees up space for you to be the visionary and saves you the time of communicating with each individual team member.
No matter the size of your business, you need to have a team member that owns the customer service responsibilities. When you are first starting out, often that is the CEO. But once you’ve grown to a certain point, you need to outsource this to a team member.
Customer service may include managing emails and responding to clients or customers’ needs, engagement, and onboarding. Your director of operations can oversee this aspect of your business and ensure that your standards are being met.
Finance and Data
Raise your hand if you do your own bookkeeping and taxes. Okay, now I want you to use that hand to pick up the phone and call an accountant. Better yet, have your director of operations make the call.
If you do your own personal taxes, more power to you. But business finances and taxes are a totally different beast, and it pays to have someone take this over for you. From tax deductions to payroll to 1099s and W-2s to depreciation to assets, it’s a lot to take in and a lot of jargon to shuffle through. Keeping an accurate handle on your finances is vital to the success of your business. It’s time to put some faith in a professional to take care of this for you.
If you’ve ever had a headache client, you know the importance of legally-binding contracts that will hold up in court–God forbid you ever need that level of protection.
The legal arm of your business is meant to do just that: protect you and your assets. And often your sanity. You need someone on your team to help ensure that you have all the legal documents in place to manage client and contractor or employee relationships, protect your physical and financial capital, give you the professional edge over your competition and help your clients and customers feel protected.
As the CEO, you need someone who can oversee all the processes and systems of your business, look for operational efficiencies, and provide oversight and administration to the entire backend of your business. Not all teams need a separate project manager, but your director of operations should have a project management skill set and be able to handle all the moving parts of your business.
A director of operations is also someone who can help you prioritize all your ideas and create a project plan to bring the most important ideas to life, while helping to maintain the overall health of your business.
Why Marketing Lives in Two Places
As you’ll notice in the infographic, marketing falls in the middle. It’s something that happens both in the front of the house and the back of the house, and one piece can’t happen without the other. Many business owners hire out the creation and implementation of the marketing pieces, but they need to have a hand in the front-facing parts of marketing. So if you’re a podcaster, you’re not going to hire someone to record the podcast for you, but you could hire someone to write the show notes, edit the episode and load everything to iTunes and your website.
When it comes to the front-of-the-house marketing activities, you need to be involved in helping with the strategy–even if you hire someone to do that for you. Your business goals and your vision will drive that strategy and you need to have a say in it. Just like you’re the name and face behind your brand and need to guide its direction.
As the CEO and visionary, it’s your job to primarily work in the front of the house. And when you’re ready, hire someone to oversee the implementation of all your grand ideas.
Are you a CEO with someone in your business who could become your operations manager? Or, are you a VA or OBM with a desire to up-level your business and become an operations director?