ON · #008

A newsletter for everyone who shares our passion for the wonderful but wily world of startup and scaleup operations. 

❦ Your ON team --
Astrid, Aušrinė and Charlene

DISCOVER Featured Type of Ops: 
Business Ops

 Charlene:  There seems to be very little consensus as to what exactly is encompassed by Business Operations, but in all my online research, I thought that Honey Patel's Medium post "What I Learned from 50 Business Operations Job Descriptions" does the best job of summarising it:

Honey then breaks down each pillar into specific areas and accountabilities. Below is the structure that she uses, but for much more detail you can read her original article here:
Cross-functional management: facilitating conversation, decision making, building relationships, holistic view & alignment

Operations: execution, operational cadence/rhythm of business, cost reduction, business process improvement

Data: collection and insights

Reporting, metrics & KPIs: reporting, metrics and KPIs

Strategic planning: insights framework, planning and business rhythms
Growth: strategic partnerships, M&A, GTM & international, new opportunities

Programs: special projects, internal consultant, project management

People: resource planning and management, culture and engagement, recruiting and onboarding, training

Money: budget, ROI, procurement

Communications & change management: communication calendar, framework, change management
 Charlene:  Looking at this laundry list resonates a lot to me as a COO who has to do pretty much everything listed above minus Procurement and M&A!

What would be interesting to understand is the biz ops org design required for a company. Is this the COO's role in a smaller startup? A decentralised group of people who sit in different functions but collectively perform all of the above? A dedicated team in a larger company? 

CONNECT Featured Ops Community

 Aušrinė:  We couldn't find any community that is explicitly for Business Operations professionals - apparently there was one called BOLT (Business Operations Leaders in Technology) based in California, however, we're not sure if it's still active. 

In the meantime, we point you to Honey Patel's Medium blog as last year she was thinking about starting a monthly Business Operations roundtable over Zoom for people to share their experiences and learn from one another.

If you're looking for an operations community to join that's not necessarily around business operations specifically, check out our comprehensive Operations Communities list on Operations Nation website.

●DISCOVER So You Want to Be a COO...
But What's the Actual Job?

Join us for an online event with Jeff Szczepanski, a seasoned COO and successful entrepreneur, and hear all about the role and the ins & outs of being a good COO.
30th September 2021
5 PM BST // 12 PM EST // 9 AM PST // 2 AM ACT

 Astrid:  Operations roles have been on the rise, including that of the Chief Operating Officer. This role is incredibly exciting but also complex. It differs vastly depending on the industry, company size and stage of the business, not to mention the strengths and weaknesses of their "other half", the CEO.

At Operations Nation, our main goal is to help operations professionals to thrive at every stage of their operations career. Therefore we're incredibly excited to partner with Jeff Szczepanski (or Tall Jeff - he's really tall!), a seasoned COO and successful entrepreneur.

Drawing from his unique experience, Jeff will be diving deeper into the ins and outs of the job of the COO: what it is, what it isn't, and what to do when you're already in it.

RSVP here to save your spot

CELEBRATE Featured Ops Hero: 
Paul Herdemian

CEO & Founder of Nine16 (Coaching, Advisory & Consulting Services). 
Formerly CFO/CCO at
JustPark, SVP Revenue & Operations at Songkick, VP Finance & Operations at Crowdsurge, Director of Finance & Operations at Pure Growth Partners.
 ON:  Tell us about your career path - how did you get to be where you are today?
 I started my career in public accounting as an auditor with PwC working closely with middle-market growth companies across various industries, spanning retail, wholesale, and manufacturing. I was fortunate to work with a wide range of clients across the US over a short period, drilling into the inner workings of each business and taking on increasing levels of responsibility.

I loved it. The clients, the competitive culture working alongside incredibly intelligent colleagues, and having access to an incredible amount of resources. However, after receiving a promotion, I took a solo road trip around the Southwest US. Upon reflection, I realised that the career path I envisioned as a fresh college graduate with a specific destination was no longer attractive. My definition of fulfilment had changed. I wanted a career journey that allowed for many different types of experiences.

Click here to continue reading the interview with Paul

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GROW Understanding Business Operations

What is Biz Ops?

 Charlene:  When we spoke to Paul about how he sees Business Operations, he described it as a special forces unit, i.e. "agents of change who prioritise the changes needed as a business grows and scales". A Business Operations team essentially functions as a squad of internal consultants who identify a team to focus on for a limited period of time, set up a partnership of sorts, support them, help do the work, but then pull away.

What is the ideal makeup of a Business Ops team?

  • Someone to drive the vision
  • A legacy employee who knows how things work
  • Someone entrepreneurial
  • Someone commercial
  • Someone from Product/Marketing

One of the caveats that Paul mentioned is that often Silicon Valley companies bring in MBAs to do Business Ops. However, this can often rub people the wrong way if they come in with fancy frameworks, but don't really understand how the business works (no offence to MBAs, I'm one myself 😂).

What are the biggest challenges for Business Ops teams?

Having witnessed firsthand some of the pushback that can be created when anyone tries to make changes within a team, much less from outside the team, I was curious how Biz Ops team handles this.

Paul mentioned that one of the biggest challenges for Biz Ops teams is figuring out how to influence teams without direct reporting lines. He gave a great parallel to how Product Managers structure and prioritise the work that Engineers do even if they don't manage them directly. Paul also spoke about the importance of internal education of why the Biz Ops team exists, what teams who work with them can expect, and how they measure success. He used a monthly internal newsletter to communicate what was happening across the wider company.

"We aren't here to criticise or replace your jobs. We're here to support you through the change needed for our company to scale."

Your Ops Voice

We want to hear what YOU think about Business Operations.

 Astrid:  A few weeks ago, we published a poll on our LinkedIn page. We asked: is Business Operations very different from Operations in general?

There's ongoing discussion, and we'd love to hear your thoughts too! Join the conversation here and also take a peek at the poll results. Do you think the most common answer was "Yes", "No", or "It's more nuanced than that"? 😉


Click here to join the conversation about Biz Ops
Stay tuned as we keep exploring the operations landscape.

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See you next month! :wave:
The team behind Operations Nation:
Astrid Verstraete - Operations Consultant, Co-Founder of Ops Stories, Co-Founder at ON
Aušrinė Keršanskaitė - Head of Operations at Sphere, Co-Founder of Ops Stories, Co-Founder at ON
Charlene Chen - COO at Lantum, Founder of COOhort, Co-Founder at ON
Valentina Salvi - Content & Marketing Associate at ON
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