Operations is an underrated field in business. It’s not highlighted like marketing, or sales are. A lot of people don’t even know it exists, much less understand how important of a field it is.
In Guatemala people who study business operations in college are made fun of for “taking the easy way out” or “not having their life together”. While I don’t personally think college is the way to go, I think business operations is probably more useful than a lot of other majors out there.
As customers, we don’t really see operations –– and that’s the whole point. Operations work is in motion behind the scenes. But just because we don’t see operations doesn’t mean it’s not constantly happening.
And the minute you start working at a company or on a personal project, you understand why operations are so necessary.
Business Operations are the backbone of any successful company. No exceptions. Operations departments are responsible for making sure all the inner workings of a company flow seamlessly and create a better experience for both customers and employees.
People who work in operations are problem solvers. They’re always looking for ways to improve their systems– even if they’re not broken– and find ways to automate processes that take up valuable time.
Depending on where you work or what you do, operations will look different. If you work at an office and you’re part of the HR department, you might be responsible for figuring out how the hiring process goes or training and development. But you don’t have to work at a big corporation or even a company to deal with business operations.
Freelancers and self-employed people like myself also do. Even if we don’t notice it.
At first glance there doesn’t seem to be a lot of business operations behind what I do. Most people wouldn’t even call it a business. And that’s exactly my point. Operations is about finding flaws in a system and making them work better– no matter how big or small.
A few weeks ago I noticed a huge pain point in my content creating system.
A big part of how I generate my income is through affiliate links. I use a platform called Shopstyle Collective to turn regular product links into affiliate links. If people purchase through my links I gain a small commission from their purchase.
The platform is fairly easy and quick to use but my problem arose when I noticed I was creating a lot of repeat links for a single product. That made it harder for me to track my analytics and see how they were performing. So instead of building a new link every time I needed to, I made sure I hadn’t already linked that specific product yet. If I already had, I’d just copy the link. If I didn’t, I would create it.
This took away hours of my life that I could have been using to build or work on other more important things. I got so fed up with this that I made it my goal to find an effective system to make the process easier.
After a bit of thought, I came up with my most brilliant idea ever: a spreadsheet!
Ok, I know it’s not the most revolutionary idea but it was exactly the innovation I needed to solve this problem. Besides, this was no ordinary spreadsheet. This was a custom Notion spreadsheet made specifically for beauty products.
I cleared out one whole afternoon to move all my data from the Shopstyle Collective platform into my spreadsheet. Name of the product, category of the product, and affiliate link. It’s that simple. There’s even a search bar that makes looking for products so much easier. No confusion. No wasting time scrolling and looking for links. And now every time I create a new link, all I have to do is input it to the spreadsheet and that’s it.
That right there is operations at its core. There was a flaw in my system that had the potential to be more efficient so I found a way to make it more efficient. As I said, it doesn’t have to be a huge thing (though it can be) but it’s all about finding ways of solving and constantly improving problems.
All those little tasks that don’t seem important on a daily basis add up and we end up wasting a lot of time on them. If you work on operations, or you want to, you need to be observant and constantly look for ways to waste less time. And even if business operations isn’t your job, that problem solver mindset will take you far.
Whether you’re a freelancer like me or you work for a huge corporation, there will always be a million little things happening behind the scenes. Having a good operations system in place will ensure that everything flows seamlessly and make your work more productive. That way, you can focus your time and energy on the things that really matter.
I’m telling you, operations is the secret sauce that your business needs to guarantee success. You can’t leave it out of your recipe.