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Operate Guide

Operate Business

It may seem that you’ve taken a long time to get to this point. Our framework deliberately slows you down to encourage you to think deeply about the shape of your business before you try it out on customers. In the long run, this will have saved you time, energy and money that could have been lost by setting off in the wrong direction.

In the Operate Business phase, you’ll put your ideas to the test with your customers. You will run experiments between them and your business, measuring and refining until you reach the shape that your customers want to engage with.

Goals

The goal of Operate is to continually optimise your business to offer the best value to your customer base while constantly improving business operating processes, sales, marketing, and cashflow. You’ll constantly be balancing what’s good for your customer and what’s good for your business, and learning how to improve that balance.

The goals for this process are:

  • Refine your understanding of customer needs.

  •  Improve business processes and collateral.

  • Improve sales volume and quality.

  • Improve the balance of income vs cost.

  • Gradually develop from startup to fully-fledged business.

Improvement

When you first launch your business, it’s likely to be raw and clunky. Also, much of launch will have been based on assumptions. It’s during operation that you test your assumptions and use the information gained during those tests to improve your business and settle it into a stable operating mode.

Wheels within wheels

When you designed your business, you created a cashflow forecast. If you used the template provided, you’ll have forecast your business performance for the first three years. To create the monthly forecast for the first year, you will have based your estimates on an annual plan. That annual plan could have been broken down into quarters, with each quarter broken down into months. If you haven’t done this yet, I’d strongly recommend that you do so now and create a monthly plan for the current quarter.

Within the monthly plan will be a list of detailed activities that you’ll perform during the current month. I don’t advise very detailed planning beyond the current month, as the plan for next month will be dependent upon what you learn this month.

At any time, an experiment can realise results so surprising that they force you to re-evaluate your approach to the next quarter, or the whole year, or even your whole business! It is these surprises that will make you question your assumptions and find new ways to make your business better

During each short- and long-term cycle of growing your business, develop the discipline of treating each business activity and change as an experiment in which you will:

  1. Hypothesize.

  2. Create an experiment to prove or disprove your hypothesis.

  3. Collect data during the experiment.

  4. Review your results and act on them to improve your next cycle.

  5. Go back to create a new hypothesis.

As the founder of a new business, you are the owner of a learning engine. The more you learn and adapt, the better your business will be for your customers and for you.

Support for the process

If you get stuck on any part of this process, you have resources at your disposal.

  • Community – Access our community of start-up owners. Share your experiences, ask for help, help others, or just hang out.

  • Resources – Explore resources available on the site, including some not linked to in the process. For example:

    • Process Overview

    • Blog

    • Templates

    • Web Link Resource Library

    • Podcasts

  • Expert Advice – If you’re really stuck, or need some face-to-face advice, book a 1-1 mentoring session with our founder and expert mentor, Derek Williams

Conclusion

The Operate phase provides you with the tools to grow and adapt your business by testing your assumptions about what your customers want. This process is endless and there is no phase beyond this. Your focus should be on learning, being open to surprising results, and adapting. Good luck!

We want to make your start-up journey enjoyable, successful, and as easy as possible. If you find any aspect of the site confusing or lacking, please let us know on our Contact Form and we’ll improve it.

Finally, if you’re feeling lost, head to the Community, and get some help from a fellow start-up owner or a mentor.

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