Module 4: Operations

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🎯 Our goal in this module is to determine exactly what it will take to set up your business before launching and to sort out how you will operate your business after you launch.

What do we mean by Operations?

This is where you decide and describe just how your business will work. Some businesses have a lot of working parts and can be pretty complex. 

Other businesses are relatively simple and straight forward. 

Either way, you have to figure out what needs to be done in order to launch your business and what you and your team will be doing after you “open your doors” to the world.

Example: Let’s say your business is going to manufacture products for sale.

Here are some of the questions that you will need to answer:
  • Where will you manufacture your products?
  • Will you be building or renovating a factory?
  • Where will you be located?
  • How much space will you need?
  • How much and what kind of electric power capacity will you need?
  • What about security?
  • Building permits, zoning laws, lots of miscellaneous stuff will also need to be taken care of.
  • What machinery will you need—does it already exist, or will you have to design it and have someone to build it for you?
    • How long will this take?
  • How many employees will you need in your manufacturing facility?
    • Where will you find them?
    • Will you need to train them?
  • Where will you purchase the various raw materials you will need for the manufacturing process?
  • Where will you store the raw materials until you are ready to use them in production?
    • How much electrical capacity will be required?
  • How will you package your finished products?
  • Will you need to print instructions for use of your products?
  • Where will you put the finished products while they are waiting to be delivered to customers?
    • How will you move raw materials and finished products around in the building?
    • Will you need forklifts?
  • If everything goes right—no problems or delays—how long will it take from start to finish in order to have a product ready to sell and deliver to your customers?
  • Are you planning to have one shift, two shifts, or three shifts per day?
  • Will you work 5, 6, or 7 days a week?
  • Will you transport products to customers?
  • Will you purchase or lease trucks—how many?
    • What kind of trucks?
    • Who will drive them?
    • Or will you hire a service to do this?
  • Will you sell and deliver your product directly to your customers, or will you work with distributers and wholesalers?

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Option 2: Maybe you decide to have your products produced by an existing company in your industry.

You might contract with an existing manufacturer or producer to do most, if not all of the product creation work for you—possibly even including packaging and shipping the final product to your customers.

Option 3: Maybe you decide to purchase an existing product and re-sell it to your customers.

You can purchase products from manufacturers at a discount, have them shipped to you, and then sell, package and ship these products to your customers.

Regardless of your choice, you will need to think through all the steps and jobs that have to be done in preparation for launching your business and then for operating your business from the moment you “open your doors” onwards.

Example: Maybe you are starting a restaurant or a food truck business?

Same thing here—just think it through. What will you need to have in place before you open your doors, and then what will you need from day one to operate your business?

If your business will provide a service, there are also many potential scenarios.

Just Google “examples of service businesses” and you will find hundreds upon hundreds of actual service business models to get an idea of what different service businesses have to do “behind the scenes” to be successful.

Example: If you are creating a software product or service, your list of questions becomes much shorter.

Here are some of the questions that you will need to answer:
  • What equipment will you need (computers, servers, printers, etc.)?
  • What level of Internet connection will you need?
  • Will you do the programming inside your company?
    • Where will you find these people?
    • Will you need to train them?
    • Or, will you outsource some or all of the programming (make contracts with people outside your company)?
  • How will you handle customer support?
    • Will you do this inside your company?
    • Or will you outsource this to a third-party organization?

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Again, you just need to think through what it will take to get ready to launch your business, and then what it will take to actually go live and operate your business day-to-day. This should be very practical stuff.

Regardless of your particular business model, here are some more things to consider as you envision operating your business:
  • Will you have an office or work out of your home?
  • Will you have employees?
    • How many?
    • What will they be doing?
    • Will they all be physically present at the office or factory, or will some work from home—remotely?
  • What office equipment, furniture, computers, etc. will you need?
  • Who will be responsible for acquiring customers?
    • What will that look like?
    • Will you do paid advertising on social media platforms and wait for someone to buy something?
    • Will you go out and find your potential customers in their offices or at trade shows, or in their homes?
  • Will you hire salespeople?
  • What happens when a potential customer makes an inquiry?
    • How do you respond?
  • How long do you think it will take to acquire your first customer?
    • How long to get 100, 1,000, or 10,000 customers?
  • How many customers can you deal with per month?
  • What happens when a customer actually purchases your product/service?
    • How do you process the order?
    • What communications are necessary between you and your customer at this point?
    • How is the product/service scheduled for delivery?
    • What paperwork is required?
    • Who will handle the money? (PayPal, Stripe, some other third-party payment processor?)
  • How will you keep track of your income and expenses—will you hire someone to do this, will you contract with an accounting firm, or will you do this yourself using accounting software?
  • Can you take care of all these things yourself in the beginning, or will you need help?

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Legal & Other Matters

Of course, there are many other details to be sorted out, including the legal formation and structure of your business, licenses, registrations, any legal requirements specific to your business/industry, insurance and employee benefits, and many other matters.

The best place to start with these questions is to learn what you can from the government.

Seriously, your local, regional, state, and national government bodies will be able to tell you what it takes to start and operate any kind of business in their jurisdiction.

This is the same in most countries around the world—someone in government will have a copy of the “rules and regulations” that will govern your business.

You can start with their websites or contact them directly.

The next place to look for specific details relevant to your business will be trade associations and business organizations.

You can find business associations and organizations in most countries or regions around the world.  As usual, start with a simple Google search.

Check out the “Resources” section at the bottom of this page to expand your search.

For legal advice, you can browse online.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of attorneys and law firms that provide general information and guidance—free on their websites—for businesses regarding legal matters, as a way of attracting customers. 

This is a great way for you to get acquainted with legal requirements that might apply to your business.

Also, you can search SBA.gov and SCORE.org for legal information and guidance. 

There are SCORE volunteers in each State in the U.S. that help small business owners with legal guidance for free. 

You can also find small business forums online with discussion boards relating to legal issues.

After you have done your own research and have an idea of what to expect, then it will be time to talk with an attorney. 

This will probably cost more than you feel it is worth, but it is the best way to go—really, the only way to go. 

Expert legal advice will help you to choose the legal structure that is best for you and your business, limiting your personal liability and protecting you as you navigate the myriad of legal issues that inevitably face every business.

⚡Action Step

Think through, research, and plan out your Operations.

Now, go to the Operations section in our Business Plan Core Template and write out your narrative describing what you will do to prepare for launching your business and how you will operate your business after you launch (“open your doors to the world”).

Use the questions in this module for reference and be as detailed and specific as you can. 

We will add the costs for preparing to launch and for operating your business when we get to your Financials section.

🗂️ Resources

Scroll left-to-right across the table below to view all columns. Click on any item in the leftmost column to open that specific resource page.
PaidFree Content Available
Business Plan Core Template
Business PlanBizActually
A no-frills Business Plan template in Google Sheets. (Created by our Team)
Entrepreneurs’ Organization
PaidFree Content Available
Minority Business Development Agency
PaidFree Content Available
PaidFree Content Available
PaidFree Content Available
Market ResearchCompetitor ResearchCustomer ResearchOperations
OperationsLegalBusiness Consulting
Largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors and resource partner to the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Business ConsultingMarket ResearchCompetitor ResearchCustomer ResearchOperationsLegal
U.S. Black Chambers, Inc
PaidFree Content Available
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)
Market ResearchCompetitor ResearchCustomer ResearchBusiness Consulting
Your Local & State Chambers of Commerce
PaidFree Content Available

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© 2022 Terry Cornelison | DIY Startup Bootcamp is a BizActually.com initiative.