Doing It Better: Operational Efficiency = Competitive Advantage

Many of you may know that I teach business plan writing.  I will begin another session of my three-part  (total six hours)  workshop series  “Become Your Own Boss: Effective Business Plan Writing”  at Boston Center for Adult Education on Wednesdays February 5, 12 & 19 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM  http://bcae.org class ID # 10573.  

I recently upgraded the operations segment of the workshop because like too many business plan resource providers,  insufficient attention was paid to those issues.  For example,  the business plan template displayed on the Small Business Association website does not include an operations segment.  Operations is an important element of every business plan and business,   including those organizations that sell intangible services.  The inclusion of an operations segment to my business plan writing workshop is a quality control/operations upgrade that allows me to better  meet or exceed client expectations and gives me a competitive advantage.

What do we mean by operations?  Operations is the process by which the items we sell,  whether products or services,  tangible or intangible,  are obtained or produced and made available for sale.  The operations component of a business plan  (and operations departments)  accounts for a wide variety of responsibilities,  including distribution of the product or service to the marketplace  (sharing that responsibility with sales; operations oversees shipping and handling);  inventory management;  quality control;  maintenance of the place of business;  maintenance of business equipment;  workplace safety;  and risk management (sharing that responsibility with finance;  operations oversees aspects other than financial).   A business model includes elements of operations and marketing functions.

Recently,  I suggested to a client a way to use social media to create an operational efficiency that will result in a competitive advantage for her business.  Outreach made by her staff to targeted populations will soon become faster and the number of potentially successful contacts will increase,  as the time and cost of doing so will decrease.  The organization will more easily and inexpensively meet or exceed its clients’ expectations.  This new operational efficiency can be promoted to prospective clients in the talking points of a sales pitch and used as a means to bring in more business.

It is to a Freelance consultant’s advantage to learn how to create operational efficiencies and provide services of the greatest value faster and less expensively.  The time and money saved can be used to directly increase revenue and/or promote the business.  The operational efficiency that I created as I became more experienced and proficient in writing these weekly blog posts caused me to receive the paid opportunity of editing a colleague’s monthly newsletter.

Operations processes are different for every category of business,  so I cannot give specific recommendations of how to create efficiencies within your venture.   Overall,  be mindful of how you source  materials for products that you manufacture,  the wholesale costs of  items that you sell at retail,  or what you pay for supplies.  As your business grows,  look for ways to buy in volume so that you can minimize the cost of goods sold.  Look also for ways to cut production time of products or services that you create and always strive to provide a product or service that meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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