Growing your Startup – What Would a Good COO Advise?
Vital for business growth and transformation, a good COO has vision, experience, knowledge, and an uncanny understanding of how people work. They are strategic, data-driven, and adaptable.
Simply put, they would be the ideal person to advise you on how to grow your startup. With that in mind, here’s some key advice a good COO will likely give a fledging business looking to move forward.
Optimise your Workflow
No matter your business model’s strength, you won’t get very far unless you can optimise your operational workflow. Workflow is essential; it’s how you get things done – the series of processes you must complete to achieve a repeatable business goal.
What Would a COO Advise?
First off, look at your existing workflow and identify paint points that are slowing down your processes. Automating some mundane, repetitive tasks, such as invoicing, is possible. Investing in accountancy software can help to streamline the invoicing process while automatically keeping your bookkeeping up to date.
Are your employees working to their best abilities? Which parts of the processes are slowing them down? It could be a lack of the information they need or waiting for approvals that aren’t necessary. Again, automation of some tasks or cutting them out means your skilled workers have more time to focus on what they’re good at.
Lack of communication can be a significant bugbear in an operational workflow. A solid communications system is vital whether in-house collaboration between teams or keeping in contact with remote workers. There’s a massive choice of business collaboration tools like Slack and Zoom to help teams communicate more effectively.
Delegate Downwards, Support Upwards
If you want to move onwards and upwards, you’ll have to trust your workers – in other words, learn to delegate.
The ability to delegate effectively is a skill in itself. It can be hard to let go, especially in the early days of a new business when you want to do it all yourself.
Benefits of effective delegation:
- Increasing employees’ responsibilities can motivate them to do a better job rather than micro-managing their every move.
- It gives you a better understanding of your workers’ strengths and weaknesses, so you can assign tasks that are better suited to them.
- Delegating minor tasks to low-skilled team members means higher-skilled members can focus on ‘essential’ tasks more suited to their talents.
- Delegation not only helps you empower team members but will also ensure the load is shared, giving the management the time to focus on growing the company.
How to Get the Best Out of Talented Workers
A good COO knows how to get the best out of talented workers by presenting them with opportunities to demonstrate and develop their skills.
- Start by delegating small tasks, then reward a job well done with more responsibility – if you want your team to grow successfully, they need to feel they’re trusted.
- Be transparent – give them the information and details they need to carry out the task autonomously.
- Don’t micro-manage – leave them to complete a task on their terms but let them know you’re there if they need support. · Use feedback both ways – congratulate a job well done and offer constructive criticism where needed. Ask your workers for their thoughts on the tasks you’ve given them.
- Encourage them to learn new skills – delegation can be a way of teaching new skills while giving your workers hands-on experience.
Trust the Data
A good COO uses data to guide their decision-making. It’s easy to make the wrong move based on your gut instinct or poor advice from your fellow management.
Analyzing data to gain insights into your customers, competitors and industry mean you have the valuable information you need to identify new business opportunities that can give you a competitive edge. Useful data analysis can also help identify problems holding you back and improve your processes.
You can use big data to:
- Personalise your customer journey based on their browsing and buying behaviour.
- Respond to consumer likes and dislikes by analysing their requests, queries, and feedback.
- Test out your marketing campaigns with different variations of the same promotion to see which ones have more success.
- Identify and address customer pain points so you can make improvements and offer solutions.
- Predict future trends through data analytics and respond to changes in the market more quickly.
How to Achieve Growth in Business
If a business wants to grow, it needs to have a data-driven culture – from the top management down. So, what can you do to achieve that?
- Make sure everyone is onboard and comfortable with data. It’s not there to quell or dismiss originality, creativity, and ideas but to facilitate decision-making by offering solid and measurable results.
- Introduce data training so all levels can develop their skills.
- Use a centralised data referral point to ensure transparency and accuracy across the board.
- Be prepared for change – introduce new technologies to replace older systems and streamline your data processing.
- Listen to the data – you’ll need to be flexible and ready to adapt your processes and strategies based on the information the data gives you.
Know When to Grow
While it’s exciting to take your startup to the next level, the advice of a good COO would be “don’t run until you can walk.” Before you rush in by looking for a more suitable location, more staff, and more funding, ask yourself if your company is ready to expand.
Look to your customers for guidance:
- Have you built a regular client base – repeat orders and a continuing demand for your product or services?
- Are satisfied customers asking for more products and services? – look at their buying trends and patterns – if they’re asking for something you don’t yet have, it may be time to start investing.
- Are you taking on more business than you can handle? – if a growing customer base is exhausting your resources, it may be time to hire more workers and move to a larger facility.
A final word of advice…
Know the difference between a goal and a commitment. A goal has an end line you work towards in the hope of achieving it. A commitment is something you should work on constantly. Your commitment to your customers should be never-ending. Understanding them and committing 100% to their needs is one of the best ways to grow your business naturally and sustainably.
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