13 Best Practices for Building Solid Small Business Operations

small business operations

Running and scaling a business will always be challenging. But having a solid foundation of smoothly operating practices underlying your company can make it much easier.

To find out how successful entrepreneurs were building their operations, we asked 13 founders from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“As a business owner, what do you feel is most important when it comes to building solid small business operations?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Setting Team Expectations

“Setting proper team expectations and accountability has become one of the most impactful things to my business. Twice a month we bring all managers and executives together for a big meeting to discuss each department and their accomplishments and challenges. It is also a time for other departments to give feedback to management. At the end of these meetings, everyone leaves with follow-up tasks.” ~ David Schwartz, EMMDeavor (DBA Qruber) & Wireless Watchdogs

2. Managing Without Ego

“Many CEOs, COOs and executive level staff have various methods that they swear are the best ways of doing things. But what many people don’t take into account is that there are other variables at work, such as the dynamics of the company and the people within it. Solid operations come from management who can admit when their systems are failing and are willing to change to improve.” ~ Travis Steffen, Cyber Superpowers

3. Having a Clear Process

“Having a clear process that every team member understands is extremely important. When a task needs to be completed, there is a clear funnel and order of operations that must be followed. This improves efficiency and reduces the chance of fumbling information and having things slip through the cracks.” ~ Michael Quinn, Yellow Bridge Interactive

4. Creating a Foolproof Foundation

“You have to start at the very base of your business in order to build a successful enterprise from it — and for me that is having a solid core team. I try to look at the first couple of people I hire when assembling a new business as a new family of people that will take me to the next chapter of an awesome life. They need to share my ambition and drive to accomplish.” ~ Rob Fulton, Matikis

5. Soliciting Feedback From Your Team

“To build a solid set of processes for your business a lot has to align. But the bigger you scale, the more you’ll likely need to delegate. So how does a business owner stay efficient when the day to day may be further away from the core operations? It’s important to gather feedback from your team often to make sure you’re addressing inefficiencies and constantly improving as you grow.” ~ Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

6. Keeping Everything Transparent

“Yeah, I know it’s a buzz world. But I truly believe in the power of transparency to build solid operations. Cross-checks, social collaboration tools and breaking down silos are all ways to ensure that each operation is optimal for my unique business needs. Across levels and departments, operations should be communicated, tested and approved.” ~ Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

7. Documenting Your Processes

“If you are able to provide clear and concise documentation for your team, it leaves very little room for things to be miscommunicated. It also leaves little room for your team to not know what to do or for them to be confused. These are the biggest time wasters in an organization. Documentation makes it easier to onboard new employees and saves your business from being reliant on any one person.” ~ Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

8. Building for the Future

“Although it’s important that systems and processes address today’s pain points for your business, it’s much more imperative that they are built to handle changes that could be coming years down the road. You have to look ahead and plan for all plausible changes in your business to ensure the operations you’re building do not become quickly outdated.” ~ Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

9. Keeping the 3 P’s in Mind

“Marcus Lemonis of CNBCs show “The Profit” always says it, and it’s on point. Building a solid operation is all about the three P’s: Process, people and product. Build your operation to flow and operate well with that and you’ll have a successful business.” ~ Pablo Palatnik, ShadesDaddy.com

10. Using Data-Driven Decision Making

“Typically, operations is a complex initiative and involves various stakeholders. Additionally, there are various external conditions impacting outcomes. It is very important to maintain an objective view into how efficient your operations are. And the place to start is data collection. Data driven decision making should not be an afterthought.” ~ Ashish Rangnekar, BenchPrep

11. Choosing the Right People

“No one person is going to be be the best at everything. It all comes down to choosing the right person and personality type for each role so that no one is doing tasks that they resent. Forget coaching weaknesses and focus on leveraging strengths and passions. Then watch everything fall into place.” ~ Amanda Aitken, Girl’s Guide Courses with Amanda Aitken

12. Providing Excellent Customer Service

“Provide the best customer service you can. That is the most important thing you can do. You will at some point have a dissatisfied customer, but how you handle it will give you a solid reputation in your industry.” ~ Amanda Barbara, Pubslush

13. Owning the Operation From Start to Finish

“Hire someone to own the operation from start to finish. This person should be obsessed with the details, the metrics, the numbers. They should be elated when they hit their goal and inspired to do better when they miss it. They need to eat, sleep and breathe it.” ~ Phil Dumontet, DASHED

Team Photo via Shutterstock


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

16 Reactions
  1. The secret is really in the operations. As long as you can refine and streamline your processes, your business will be well on the right track. I can see how these tips can be helpful for that purpose.

  2. These practices certainly need application. Workforce are committed to being productive when they feel that they are part and parcel of the business along with the motivation and recognition they receive from their superiors. Take reference of the expectancy theory.

  3. A business is like a machine and you need everything in the inside to work smoothly, every piece of the whole needs to do its part in order for the machine to run well. Similarly to what the author outlines, it is crucial to get your operations under control and everything coordinated.

    I have written something on a similar topic, more specifically productivity hacks for small business owners. How to achieve effectiveness and optimization in day-to-day activities (http://in2.so/Tdk6rk). Have a read and let me know what you think!

  4. It may be less glamourous but making sure the underpinning of the business is organized is really a stress reliever for the business owner/ leader. It also creates a system for accountability so when something is not working, it is much easier and quicker to locate the problem and figure out how to handle it and, an added bonus, who should handle it.

  5. Excellent points, and business tips. It all seems so simple on paper, yet sadly so easy to screw it all up.

  6. Ralph L. McNeal, Sr.

    As a SCORE Certified Mentor: Each client i get involved with, I ask to see a “Beginning Balance Sheet.” Much to my dismay, they are not familiar with a BBS, nor are they familiar with the reporting of “audit-able” ‘Organizational Costs” or Licensing. in addition they are hesitant about trademarking or don’t know where to begin. For the most part they are looking to be given “Sweat Equity.” However, without recognizing audit-able “Organizational Costs” or “Licensing,” they are cheating themselves of equity that will never be recovered in future undertakings and their equity has been discounted..

    Ralph L. McNeal, Sr.
    Author: Venture Capital Myths”

  7. As far as ‘Having a clear process’ is concerned, there are online tools that can really help with defining that process and then sticking to it. Kotive (www.kotive.com) is one of them – you set up the processes (filling in forms, sending out emails, creating important documents, etc.), and when you run them, they all happen in order, and many of them can be automated. The process is the same every time, and the employees can easily focus on each task as it comes, giving them the opportunity to increase the quality of their work, instead of worrying about forgetting steps.

  8. I can agree that is is very important to maintain efficient operatons through innovative technhology and software.

  9. It’s such an incredible article. If you want to become disciplined and successful, managing time is essential for Building Solid Small Business Operations.Thank you so much for sharing this information.In that case I suggest everyone to follow time tracking software. Thumbs up. Keep publishing interesting articles!

  10. Thank you for sharing these tips will be very helpful.