The Essential Tools You Need In Business (And At Each Business Stage!)

Hello, and welcome back to this week’s content. Now, today I’m talking all about the essential tools that you need in business. But that’s not all. I’m going to be talking them through in a really simple way. Because I’m going to be structuring it in each stage of business, what are the essential tools that you essentially need.

Some of you may know, I’m Charlotte. And I’m mostly known for running an amazing support agency where we support business owners at different stages of their business journey in order for them to really scale and achieve their vision of what they’re setting out for — without burning out!

Now burnout is the main part here, and that’s at the core of our values.

We don’t want any of our clients to burn out. And ultimately, we’re more than just a delegation agency, we provide support throughout the entire business journey in regards to your business ops.

Let’s face it, Ops is not as sexy as sales, marketing.

but essentially the ops, are probably the most important part because that’s the part that’s going to help you drive your business forward. And that’s the part that keeps all those moving pieces together.

The Essential Tools You Need In Business (And At Each Business Stage!)

So that’s what the aim is today is to talk through the essential tools. There’s a lot of hearsay, when it comes to operations and when it comes to delegating.

People say, you need this, you need that.

And, ultimately, it becomes really frustrating because we get told so many different things of what we need at different parts of our journey, and when we can’t afford that support at that particular stage.

It makes us feel rubbish.

So that’s what the aim is here, I want to be able to discuss from someone who lives and breathes operations for business owners. I am someone that has actually been in the nitty gritty and down in those trenches with you. Making sure that you can really, really scale your business. Now, I’m not one of these big coaches that say, this is what you need to do for operations and they have never been in an operational role. We are actually from the operational side so that’s why we want to make it super, super simple for you, take away any of that fear and any of that worry that you have around affording that particular support at any one time. So, let’s get going….

The startup stage tools.

Now, This is a stage two as business owners we have all been in, and effectively. The main objective for most people in this stage is to make sales. The biggest part of being in the startup stage is to make sales is to validate your offer. And, you know you can do all the research in the world, without actually going out there and trialling the offer. You’re not going to be able to fully validate it.

So, the startup stage, you’ll find you’re probably really stuck with financial budgets. Maybe you’re feeling a bit frustrated because you’re working around the clock. You’re trying and you’re pushing out all these different strategies you’re listening to all these different gurus. And you can then actually already start to feel a bit burnt out. I’ve been there.

So, the main tools that I want you to focus on when you’re in the startup stage is self care.

I don’t like the term, I feel it’s thrown around far too much. But it’s the term that’s going to explain this as best as possible. So, taking care of yourself is vital, especially in the early days of business. Because, let’s face it, you can’t pour from an empty cup. And the last thing you want to do is to become one of those businesses that don’t doesn’t even pass the one year mark.

Now, that’s what we want to avoid because most businesses won’t pass that one year mark because they feel as though there’s too much going on. That they have fallen out of love with their business. And ultimately, they feel that actually getting a job is an easier and simpler way of doing things. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. But what really breaks my heart is the people that actually do really genuinely want to push forward with their business.

But they’ve just been told, rubbish advice and been told to go and get a virtual assistant from the get go. It doesn’t work.

If you’re in the startup stage, you’re going to be looking at your self care, you’re going to be making sure that you put time aside for you. Even if that is just two or three hours a week, where you sit there and you take care of yourself. Making sure that you do that is going to be so much so beneficial for you, you’re going to become a lot more productive by doing that. I know people may think, but that’s counterproductive, that’s three hours I could have spent doing more sales or doing more whatever. But ultimately, if you don’t take care of yourself. You are going to become one of those statistics where you drop off before a years even passed. We don’t want that.

And secondly is mindset.

Now mindset is something that actually you need to work on throughout the entire business and actually self care as well. You need to make sure that these two elements stick with you throughout your entire business journey. But it’s more more paramount within the startup stage because a lot of people will start a business and they haven’t really taken into consideration or they’ve not had to do it before where they’ve been in a job where they have to make sure they’re taking care of their self.

And looking after their mindset, because ultimately we kind of get pointed in the direction of where our bosses in our jobs want us to be.

When you become a business owner, there’s a lot of things that fall on your shoulders because everything is kind of your sole responsibility, finance, HR, admin. Everything is on your shoulders and that’s why taking care of yourself and mindset is so so important. Now mindset will come from self belief, it might be money mindset, it might be a combination. And I’m not saying that you need to go and hire a mindset coach now, but what I am saying is to look at what is going to help your mindset.

Some people like journaling, some people like affirmations, some people like motivational videos, some people like to listen to podcast, some people like to get out in fresh air go running and listen to something that’s going to help us and our mindset. Whatever that may be. Make sure that you are working on your mindset, because that’s going to be paramount throughout the entire journey. For most people is probably a lot of money mindset and self belief. And I’m actually one of those people. So making sure that you have those two tools in your startup stage is essential. And then, as I say, your main objective is to be validating your offer, and to be making some sales.

The established stage of business tools.

Now, the established stage of business, is the next stage up from startup so it’s kind of saying that you’ve validated your offer. You’re getting regular sales, it’s working. But you may be feeling a bit swamped. And this is often the stage where people throw out going get a virtual assistant. No, don’t go and get a virtual assistant!

You want to make sure that you have your systems in place that’s your first of the tools.

And yet again, they’re not sexy. I know that, but they are essential. Once you have your systems in place, you are able to then look at what you are doing reoccurring. So what tasks are you doing all the time, that can potentially be automated? That’s going to save a tonne of time with minimal budget that you’re going to need.

And then you’re going to be looking at from from the systems of what you can automate what you can streamline.

Now, again, people say streamlining means I’m going to lose my job because that’s what we’re led to believe streamlining is a terrible thing. And no one wants to go through it, but actually in small business, it’s so powerful. So, streamlining is looking at your system and what you have in place. Then looking at your metrics. So how are things working how are they coming together?

Are they actually bringing you a return? Here we need to be a bit ruthless.

We do not have a team of 30 people that are doing all our stuff around us, like a lot of these gurus would have. And let’s be honest, we don’t have the budget for that. So that’s why streamline is really powerful because what you want to be making sure here is that you are keeping up with yourselves.

So your offers are validated, but you are also freeing up some of your time to be able to deliver those sales.

And depending on what business model you have set up depends how much time you need to free up for that. But by streamlining, you can see what strategy is working and what’s not. And actually, a strategy that may be worked last year may stop working and that’s completely fine, and that’s completely normal. But you need to be aware of it, and that’s where the metrics come in.

Once you’ve figured out the strategies that you’re going to continue because they’re bringing you a return so they’re bringing you either more time back, joy, or they’re bringing you more money. They’re essentially the three things that you’re going to be wanting to look for. And once you have done that, you will then be looking at hiring potentially an ops assistant, which is my terminology for kind of virtual assistant. And you’ll see why when we talk further on down the line.

But hiring an ops assistant is going to be starting off small and it is just the case of outsourcing, those processes that are bringing you a return.

You can’t automate them, that essentially needs to be done because you’re bringing a return, so make sure that you’ve outsourced the process of this particular strategy to an operations system. They can then take that off your plate. So you can see you can free up your time, and you can then look on getting more sales through the door. Whilst the ops assistant is still working on that particular strategy process that’s actually bringing you a return. And I would probably say our wise you probably looking at maybe around 10 hours a month to be starting off with.

Of course that can grow depending on what process is or what strategy is that you’re actually outsourcing because some of them are going to become more time consuming than others. So it’s really just an average just to kind of give you a bit of an idea. But where people say 10 hours it’s not going to bring me very much a month but actually it, it brings a hell of a lot. And so be very, very open minded about that but please do not hire your ops assistant, before you have your systems automation streamlining in place, because you’re wasting your money.

And then we’re moving on to the growth stage tools.

Now, this is the really exciting stage, because you’ll find yourself in this stage where you have grown yourselves. So your offer is more than validated your sales are growing and they’re coming through and they’re regular. So they’re happening. You’re maybe looking to add an additional offering so your business. Depending how your business model is you might be looking at thinking I need to add some more streams. You will potentially have an ops assistant, that’s working away with particular processes in the background. While you’re tracking and seeing how things are working, how things are coming together, and the return that it’s bringing back to you.

So what tools do you need so you will be looking to maybe look at a senior ops assistant.

Now you will notice that I lay out the support team very differently from what other people may, and that’s because there’s very, very specific responsibilities for each of these layers of support. And what a virtual assistant or ops assistant would essentially be doing is being the person that you are directing.

So you are saying to this person, can you do this for me. Can you do that for me. Can you do X, Y and Z. Whereas, with a senior ops assistant. They work a bit more independently with a speciality so you will probably be find that they will forecast what’s coming in and, and kind of say, do you need me to do XYZ next? Do you need me to do that?

And that’s where a senior ops assistant comes in, so they genuinely look at further afield what’s coming up, what’s happening and have more know how.

They could even be the person that’s covering the metrics for you so you can see what’s working and what’s not. So they could go into your Google Analytics they could go into your website. They could go into whatever the tools may be to gather those metrics for you so you can then pursue growing your business and adding another stream to your business.

Although they won’t act upon those metrics, it’s just the time consuming part of gathering those metrics and then being able to feed them back to you. Making sure that they’re accurate. And maybe just making some little points of why a drop may have happened or why something could have happened due to certain situations. So it just kind of gives you a bit more food for thought.

And along with a senior ops assistant, you’ll probably be looking at adding an ops manager.

By the time you get to the scale stage. So, with an ops manager. What you will find is, once you have hired some team members. You are managing those team members. That in itself is an entirely whole full job, and you’ve basically traded the delivery for the management. That’s often where people get stuck because they actually get burnt out from managing everyone. From managing and making sure that they are doing what they need to be doing. And making sure that everything’s clear and everything’s happening and all these plates are being juggled without falling on the floor.

That’s where an ops manager comes in, so they will be able to manage your business overall they’ll be able to manage your team manage your clients expectations. They will be able to have meetings with you to talk through what your vision is to talk through. How you’re going to get there. So the plan of what you think you’re going to need to do in order to achieve that vision. They are then able to feed that back to the team and distribute the tasks as and when are required. Sounds dreamy, right.

Then we move on to the scale stage.

This is where you’re generally earning the money coming through the door. You’ve got the salaries, you’ve got the regular sales, you’ve got some team members and the working away. And it might not just be your ops side of team members. It might be that you have some graphic designers and copywriters, whatever that might be. But you were starting to scale. And your expenses are going up as your revenues going up. Which means that you fall back into the growth stage. Now, the way in order to scale is to re evaluate the business as a whole.

So, what are the responsibilities of your team members? Do they still have a place in your business. How is your business evolved or has your business model evolved that actually that particular person doesn’t have the skill set that you need in order to continue scaling your business? Whatever that looks like for you. Your main objective here is to keep a lid on the expenses, whilst you’re set your revenue is still increasing. And that’s where you can really steadily scale your business.

Now this isn’t saying that you have to bootstrap everyone and you have to get rid of people because that’s counterproductive.

You need to be making sure that the roles that they have in the business are roles that need to happen so that they are bringing you a return. That they are needed, that you are keeping on top of the sounds that you were delivering that your client experience isn’t falling off. You need to make sure that you are delivering to the standard that you would have been delivering in the start in a startup stage.

And that’s really really hard, especially when you have a team that you are trying to keep on top of and make sure that they are doing what they need to do. So, you will be looking to maybe look at an ops director. Which is very similar to an ops manager but the ops director, genuinely has more of a strategic view. Your ops director would work very closely with, say, a consultant or business consultant. And they will pull together a strategy that is going to help you achieve your vision.

Effectively, an ops director will be the person that will be able to help lead your business with you. Although the manager would feed into you, that there would still be some element of you needing to direct the business in where it’s going. Whereas with an ops director, they really work alongside you in order to help you direct the business into where it needs to be.

And you will probably be looking at hiring a consultancy or consultant or someone that’s going to help you revamp your business.

Because, you know, I know people say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. But you still need to evolve, and that’s one of the main problems that people will find in the scale stage is that they stop evolving. Because they have so much happening and they’re trying to bring down their expenses that they don’t invest in the things that are going to actually help them evolve as a business.

So it’s definitely worthwhile thinking about how a consultant could come in and help you with the layout of your business. How does it all come together. What are your future plans, what’s the bigger picture? And then putting together a plan in how to execute that. Which will be where your ops director would come in. So the ops director would have that plan and would have that overview of what’s happening where they can share that down the line.

So, those are the tools, it’s a bit of a long one today. But I think it’s really really important it’s something that’s very, very close to my heart about making sure that business owners are using the right tools at the right time.

Because time after time I see business owners using the wrong tools at the wrong time, and it ends in disaster. So please don’t be one of those people.

I hope it’s helped answer what tools you need for business. If you have any questions or if you want to chat to us about some support, maybe you need some support. Maybe you’re not sure what that looks like. Then, it’s no problem at all. There is no hard sale. I’m not going to say to you that this is what you need. If it’s not what you need at that time. But we do have offerings throughout the entire business that’s going to help you on all of your business journey. So do keep your eyes peeled for anything that you feel is going to be really beneficial to you.

Otherwise, get in touch, we more than happy to help. And if you found this useful, I would love for you to share. One of my missions for this year is to really really break down the myths that people have around the operational side of business. So, if you found this useful, I would love for you to share it because I think It’s got tonnes and tonnes of really useful information, that a lot of people are going to find helpful.