Business Operations


What you will need to include

Implementation Strategies

Control Strategies

What do I add to this section?

This operational section of your business plan is about explaining what you and all the people involved in your business will be doing in a here-and-now basis during normal operations.

You will be discussing things like:

within your business.

The best way to tackle this is with an Action Plan. The Action Plan is a detailed list of activities of (i) what you will need to perform to get your business running; (ii) what you will need to do once the business is operational (e.g. any OH&S issues to consider?); and (iii) what you will need to do when there are certain changes in the environment and within your business.

Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S)

Any person in control of a workplace, employees, themselves in a self-employed basis, manufacturers, suppliers, repairers and installers have duties and responsibilities to ensure the risk of injuries at or near workplaces are minimised. These duties and responsibilities are governed by appropriate legislation.

In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the legislation comes under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989, Dangerous Goods Act 1984, Scaffolding and Lifts Act 1957, and Machinery Act 1949.

To be succinct, all you have to do is take any reasonable and practical steps to protect the health, safety and welfare of yourself and everyone under your control or in your care while at work. The steps include:

  1. Implementing a regular plan of maintenance, testing and repair to all equipment.
  2. Providing training, supervision and instruction to employees about the correct use of dangerous substances and equipment and how they are to be stored and transported with utmost safety and without risks to health.
  3. Providing appropriate medical and first aid facilities.
  4. Inspecting and identifying potential health and safety issues in the workplace.
  5. Highlighting emergency exits and where to locate fire extinguishers within the workplace.
  6. Investigate complaints and store details of accidents and incidents in a log book for record keeping purposes.
  7. Talking to employees and the relevant unions about developing an OH&S policy.

Monitoring yourself and your business

Finally, towards the end of your operational section, you should discuss what needs regular monitoring and recording within your new small business in the areas of OH&S, marketing (e.g. are you considering value-added services?), legal aspects (e.g. new taxation laws), financial affairs (e.g. a change in the cost of your raw materials from suppliers) and yourself and others (e.g. time management, and the level of emotional and physical stress within yourself and your staff in performing the work). Explain how you will monitor these areas.

For example, mention in this section how you will read the Financial Section in certain newspapers and magazines; you will listen to parliamentary activity affecting small business etc. Now explain what will you be looking for.

Another thing you could talk about as far as monitoring your business and customer satisfaction are concerned is to check your bank statements once a month. Actually, to save money and get the products out the door quicker (e.g. customers who make electronic funds transfer to your business), you may want to check your business bank account electronically online at least once a week and possibly every couple of days.

Now we shall look at the things you as a business operator and your staff must do to maximise personal performance.

Time management

This is about spending your time wisely and keeping things in balance by using simple time management tools or strategies, namely:

  1. Refining and/or learning new skills;
  2. Write a To-Do-List;
  3. Apply a highest to lowest priority concept to the To-Do-List; and
  4. Delegate work to others as required every now and then on items of lowest priority.

What will managing your time give you?

  1. Greater productivity;
  2. Less stress;
  3. Increase forward-planning or acknowledging the future;
  4. Increase your control of your own life;
  5. Be more happy;
  6. Make more money; and
  7. Increase the quality of your work (i.e. Work smarter, not harder).

What usually wastes the time of a successful businessperson?

  1. Telephone calls of a lengthy nature
  2. Friends
  3. The inability to say, "No".
  4. People who do not call back
  5. Family commitments
  6. Procrastination
  7. Travel etc.

On the whole, the greatest time wasters involve dealing with people. Yet people can also assist you in making a profit in your business as well as a great source of help and enjoyment. At any rate, you must decide how to balance this part of your life carefully.

The second greatest time waster is our indecisiveness. The third greatest time waster is old technology.

The best way to deal with any time waster is to develop multi-skilling and to acquire experience. The greatest strengths you can bring to a small business are your skills, knowledge and experience.

Generally, the most successful small business operators tend to be highly talented and multi-skilled individuals who normally base their business around their hobby. In this way they can concentrate on other aspects of a business such as dealing with clients or minimising the stress in doing the work. So do you have enough experience and knowledge concerning the industry you intend to operate in. Do you have sufficient skills to perform the work required efficiently and effectively? If not, you may need to obtain qualifications or pay a professional to do some of your work for you.

If you already have the skills but not the time to deal with time-wasters like people, consider delegating the work to others via contracting or buy suitable technologies to make life easier for you. For example, to deal with people, specify the time you can talk to them or buy an answering machine or set up an email address. But be quick to respond, or you will lose customers.

For other time-wasters, consider writing down what they are and problem-solve how you will deal with these time wasters. If you intend to delegate some of the work to other people, list all the people who need to be involved in the problem-solving process and discuss the problem with them.

Now for the things you have to do, create a To Do List. This is a kind of diary to mark out when you can deal with the problems or tasks and specify the amount of time you will spend on it.

Next, review your To Do List for the week or for the day and take note of all the things to be done. Prioritise the items in the list. Write priorities as follows:

Priority A
For highest priority - must be done within a specified time.

Priority B
For medium priority - should be done but have no critical deadlines

Priority C
For lowest priority - nice things to do but may be time-consuming.

Now consider working personally on the items in the diary of highest priority first. Those items of lowest priority can be done in person, but it is strongly recommended that you let others do it for you so you have more time to do other things of greater priority.

Finally, priorities do change over time, so constantly reanalyse your list of tasks on a daily basis.

Stress management

There is a difference between good stress and bad stress. Knowing this difference can make all the difference in your life. Though which is which is a relative concept.

Bad stress is usually a term described for too much or too little of something that prevents you from seeing the big picture and thus determine what is important in life. If you have bad stress in your life, some of the ways to deal with it include:

  1. Exercise;
  2. A healthy diet;
  3. Meditation or relaxation;
  4. Music;
  5. Talking to someone;
  6. Being on your own for a while;
  7. Hobbies;
  8. Gardening; and
  9. Extra sleep.

The aim for everyone is to realise that some stress is okay. We need a little of it to survive and achieve certain goals in life. Too much or too little, however, is not a good thing. Psychologists now have a word to explain this balanced stress level. They call it Eustress.

How do you deal with the stress you are having? Basically do anything that is different, or think of something in a different way, from what it is that's making you stressful.

For example, talk about it (if you haven't talked about it before). Smile (if you have been regularly frowning before). Take regular breaks (if you have been working too hard). You can also research the thing that's creating the stress (instead of avoiding it all the time). Be innovative with solving the stress by using techniques like brainstorming (instead of being totally rational and following what you think is the solution). Try physical activity (to help you do something and make you feel better). Try sex or social activity (if this has been missing in your life), meditation (as opposed to overactivity), music (instead of L-brain work all the time), humour (instead of being serious all the time), singing (instead of talking all the time), sleep (instead of keeping awake for long hours), travel (instead of staying at home all the time), see nature such as the trees and park (instead of the harshness of man-made buildings), fresh air (instead of city pollution), a good diet (instead of junk food), rewards such as buying healthy foods (instead of denying yourself things).

One of the things that often make it difficult for business operators to see the big picture is the constant change they experience when running their business. Some of the apparent sources of constant change include:

  1. The written laws governing business activities.
  2. The interest rates affecting business loan repayments.
  3. The new technologies available for businesses.
  4. The demand by consumers for new or improved products and services.
  5. Changing workforce.
  6. The feeling of insecurity of not having enough money

To deal with this, try to focus on the things that are the exact opposite. For example, some of the sources of stability include:

  1. The stable concept of demand and supply, buyer and seller in the business world and focussing on keeping your customers happy (instead of focussing on the regular changes of legislation for instance).
  2. Choosing the stable and future-proof technologies of importance for you business (instead of constantly updating to the latest stuff).
  3. Focussing on the need for trust, integrity and honesty in the running of business and in dealing with customers.
  4. The aim to make customers, your staff and yourself happy and satisfied with what they are getting.
  5. You will always have what you need.

By doing things to promote greater stability or to see things in a more stable way, you will reduce your stress.

When doing opposite things, always set limits to what you can and can't do. Give a timetable showing to clients when you can get to them. You also need to reduce ambiguity in your life. So ask for assistance. Know your role. Don't try to do everyone's job.

But whatever you do, get to the real cause of the stress. Start from the inside and work outwards.

If your business as a whole is experiencing stress, deal with stress by performing a SWOT and PEST analysis and problem-solve those stressful factors.

SWOT: Look at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (or SWOTs) within the business, outside of the business and within yourself. Study carefully the strengths and opportunities and see whether you can deal directly with the weaknesses and threats in a constructive manner.

PEST: Look at Political, Economic, Social and Technology (or PEST) that may affect your business. What do you need to do to minimise these stress factors.

Staffing and Personnel

To help give you extra time to do things and reduce stress, it is a good idea to employ people (either as employees or contractors) to perform various aspects of your business. We call this Human Resource Management.

The people who can help you in your business can fall into any one of the following categories: production people, marketing people, sales people, finance people, human resource people, research and development people, administration people, and training personnel.

As a manager, you should anticipate when you will need people to handle the right areas when a product is being sold to customers. For instance, if customers should suddenly place demands on your business to supply a product, you may decide to employ someone in the production area of your business.

It is about having the right people in the right place at the right time.

To determine whether you will need people to help you in your business, perform the following steps:

  1. List the key roles and tasks/functions required to conduct your business (i.e. sales people, marketing people etc.).
  2. Determine the skills (or competencies) required to perform the tasks. (e.g. do you need recordkeeping skills?).
  3. List the human resources available (i.e. who is in your business?).
  4. Analyse the skills in your available human resources. (i.e. what do you already have?).
  5. Match the resources available with the skills you require. (i.e. can you match the skills and people to the tasks?).
  6. Develop a strategy of dealing with "missing" skill/competency areas. (i.e. do you need to recruit, train or outsource).

    NOTE: Outsourcing is most commonly used in legal and accountancy areas of the business.

  7. Create an organisational structure to periodically review the needs of the organisation. (e.g. to help adapt to changes in the internal and external environment).