Operationalizing your business means getting your act together. This is the place where all the planning you’ve done starts to become very real. Operations includes setting up suppliers, vendors, and other key relationships for your business.
You may have found some of these connections at earlier steps, but any you’re missing must be filled in now. This is the place to find that online sales platform, that commercial kitchen in which to create your cupcakes, or to find the right manufacturing partner to make your widgets.
I’m currently consulting with several startups, in addition to Wicked Start, (and always writing about Start-ups over here), and there are lots of ways to think about the operations of your business. For example, I’ve covered Outsourcing Storage and Shipping and Cleaning Up Your Logistics, which discuss the way you can work with a vendor to receive products, store them, and have them picked, packed and shipped. While this service can cost a good amount per unit, it might cost less than having your own receiving department, software, employees and their benefits.
For those running an online site, there are costs in customer service. If you think about Online Help Systems, or Using Cloud-Based Software for a Small Business you might be able to save time and money, and launch your business faster.
Once you’ve got the basics of your operations thought through, an excellent idea (covered in Wicked Start step 9.2) is to create a diagram of how your business works. Visually mapping your processes gives you an excellent way to “walk through” your business end-to-end before you actually run it. The mapping can also show you places where you’re missing steps, or places where you might have vulnerabilities.
For example, you’ve picked a particular vegetable supplier. What if they have a driver’s strike or their source was hit hard by this past summer’s drought? Think about back-up suppliers, alternate vendors and other items that will make your business more ‘bullet-proof.’ The time to plan this out is now, as you operationalize, and not later, when you’re up and running.
Anything we didn’t cover? Ask questions in the comments or in the community.