Module 1: What is Operations?

How would YOU define Operations?

For me, operations includes everything needed for acquiring your resources, manufacturing your products or designing your services, setting up distribution channels in order to reach your customers, meeting customer demand, and implementing quality control processes to ensure that your customers are consistently satisfied with your venture’s product or services. Simply put, your operations includes of all the resources, activities, processes and systems that are required to create and deliver valuable products and services to your customers.

So, let me share a little bit more about why I think Operations is so vitally important for Entrepreneurs!

I like to say, that in order to survive and thrive, a startup must have the 3 Critical C’s:

  • Customers
  • Cash
  • Capability

When you hear the word Capability, what comes to mind?

The business dictionary defines Capability as “the ability of an organization to achieve its objectives, especially in relation to its overall mission.”

Whenever we talk about startups, we often hear a lot about Customers and Cash. In the startup world, there is always a lot of discussion about Market Size and Customer Segments, or about Venture Funding and Financing. And while Customers and Cash are certainly important – without the Operations Capability to deliver your products and services to your customers, your startup will not be able to thrive – or even survive.

So how does your venture develop their Operations Capability?

Well, in my experience, startups with a robust Operations Capability always have two things in common: A Business Mindset and an Operations Plan.

Business Mindset is a particular way of thinking, which impacts how you approach and respond to certain situations. People with a Business Mindset tend to be left-brain thinkers who love planning, data, analysis, and processes and who are always thinking about operational risks and contingencies, and back up plans.

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to understand how the two halves of the brain work together. One would naturally think of a business owner as being logical, detail-oriented problem-solvers. However, many businesses rely on creativity as a basis for the product or service they sell. Creativity is also important for marketing and advertising — the “art of persuasion” is associated with right-brain thinkers. Business owners need to be able to balance left- and right-brain thinking.

The left brain/right brain theory was first suggested in the 1960s. More recently, the two sides are sometimes referred to as the digital (left) half and the analog (right) half. The left side is thought to be better at reading, writing, and computation, while the right half is less organized and more creative.

What’s important for a business owner is to find a way to balance the functions of each side. For example, being overly focused on the creative side of your business — whether it’s the nature of the business itself (such as floral design, for example) or spending too much time and resources on creating marketing campaigns without tying them to goals and metrics — is likely to lead to an unbalanced campaign and disappointing results. Conversely, an excessive focus on numbers can result in dry, unappealing marketing campaigns that fail to resonate on an emotional level or customer experiences that lack meaning. In addition, too much right-brain thinking can lead to “paralysis of analysis”; you run the risk of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Would you describe yourself and your founding team as mainly right-brainers or left-brainers? Do you think your team possesses the attitudes, skills and traits that define an Business or Entrepreneurial Mindset?

As you recruit others to join your startup it is important that your team includes someone with a strong Operations Mindset, because it is these left-brained team members are the ones who are more likely to develop an Operations Plan.

Starting a new venture is full of operational risks and challenges, and as the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, then you should plan to fail.”

Your Operations Plan is a detailed plan that specifies what needs to be done, when, how, and by whom, along your entire value chain.

There are four key steps in your Operations Value Chain: Source, Produce, Deliver & Maintain.

Do you already have a plan in place for all the Sourcing, Production, Delivery and Maintenance activities for your products and services?

The readings and exercises this week will help you think more about developing an Operations Mindset and an Operations Plan.

  Read the following.

Your startup’s operations include all of the resources, activities, processes, and systems that are required to create and deliver valuable products and services to your customers.

Read pages 1-11 in this article from Pearson, which provides a more in-depth discussion of the definition of Operations Management. (i) Operations in Practice at IKEA, (ii) What is Operations Management 

  Read the following.

A mindset is a particular way of thinking that impacts how you approach and respond to certain situations.  People with an Operations Mindset tend to be left-brain thinkers who love planning, data, analysis, and processes and who are always thinking about operational risks, contingencies, and backup plans.  It is important to balance your startup team with both right-brain visionary creatives and left-brain operational executors.

Read this article from First Round Review, which explores the importance of having someone with an Operations Mindset as a part of your startup team.  People with an Operations Mindset are the planners and executors who can successfully translate a startup’s vision into reality.  As you recruit others to join your startup, it is important that your team includes someone with a strong Operations Mindset.

  Complete this exercise.

Do you think your team possesses the attitudes, skills, and traits that define an Operations Mindset?  Would you describe yourself and your founding team as mainly right-brainers or left-brainers?  Take this quick test to see whether you are more a right-brain thinker or a left-brain thinker.

Note: After the page loads, click the blue ‘Start’ button to begin the test.

You can also access the test by typing the following link into your browser:

https://www.arealme.com/left-right-brain/en/

  Watch this video.

Creating a business mindset:

Whether you’re a fledgling company or an established brand, you’ll learn how to overcome hurdles in the business world from this recorded session from Tony Robbins’ seminar “Business Mastery” Tony tells the audience that above all, your success depends on developing a business mindset, instead of giving in to false assumptions. Having an entrepreneurial mindset can positively impact your company and its cash flow.

When Shane stands up at the seminar, he expresses to Tony what he thinks are his businesses limitations — specifically, cash flow. Tony challenges Shane to stop placing limits on himself, and says that this is the number-one thing that holds professionals back. Whether the limitations are real or perceived, if we believe them to be holding us back, they will be. Tony brings to mind the famous Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Instead of thinking you’re incapable of accomplishing your goal, why not shift into a business mindset? Challenge your perceived limitations and choose to believe in your vision. Ask yourself, “Is this assumption really true?” Tony Robbins believes that the only true chokehold on any business is not cash flow, but the business owner’s limited psychology or skills. That means that if you have all the external resources you need but are still failing, it’s time to look at your mindset or your skillset and reevaluate the situation.


Business Assignment #1: The Importance of a Business Mindset

  Participate in this exercise.

Consider what you’ve learned so far as we begin a discussion about operations and the importance of an Entrepreneurial or Business Mindset.  As a self-practice, please answer the following questions.

  1. What Startup Industry are you interested in?  Share your thoughts on why Operations Plan and an Entrepreneurial Mindset would be important when starting a venture in your chosen industry.
  2. Did your personality quiz indicate you were a right-brain thinker or a left-brain thinker?  What do you think of the results?
  3. What is the main insight you gained from watching the video on How to Turn Business Obstacles into Opportunities?
  4. How can you apply the insight gained from this practice to grow your business?

Once you’ve completed Assignment #1, feel free to send an email with all the answers to themindfultourist.net@gmail.com and schedule your first 60-minute business consultation.