Growing your startup – what would a good COO advise?
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Growing your startup – what would a good COO advise?

Growing your startup – what would a good COO advise?

For a business to grow, it needs to have a data-driven culture

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 people to give you advice on how to grow your startup. With that in mind, here’s some key advice a good COO is likely to give a fledging business looking to move forward.

Optimise your workflow
No matter how strong your business model, 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 need to complete to achieve a repeatable business goal.

Streamlining your everyday operations can help you:

· Identify timewasters and redundant tasks
· Make better use of skills and resources
· Help reduce micromanagement
· Improve customer experience
· Make fewer mistakes

What would a COO advise?
First off, take a look at your existing workflow and identify any pain points that are slowing down your processes. There are a number of mundane, repetitive tasks such as invoicing which can be easily automated. 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 lack of the information they need or waiting for approvals that aren’t really necessary? Again, automation of some tasks or even cutting them out altogether, means your skilled workers have more time to focus on what they’re actually good at.

Lack of communication can be a major bug bear in operational workflow. Whether it’s in-house collaboration between teams or keeping in contact with remote workers, a solid communications system is vital. 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’re going to 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 sometimes, especially in the early days of a new business when you want to do it all yourself.

Benefits of effective delegation:
· Increasing an employee’s 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 them tasks that are better suited to them.
· Delegating minor tasks to low-skilled members of the team, 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 extra time to focus on growing the company.

What would a COO advise?
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 off 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 clear – give them the information and details they need so they can carry out the task autonomously.
· Don’t micro-manage – leave them to complete a task on their own 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 it’s needed. Ask your workers for their own 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 all too easy to make the wrong move based on your gut instinct or poor advice from your fellow management.

Using data to help you gain insights into your customers, competitors and industry means you have the valuable information you need to identify new business opportunities that can give you a competitive edge. Useful analysis of data can also help identify problems that are holding you back, and improve your processes.

You can use big data to:

· Personalise the 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.

Data – 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 is giving 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 bigger location, more staff and more funding, ask yourself if your company is ready to expand.

What would a COO advise?
Look to your customers for guidance:

· Have you built up 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 bigger location.

A final word of advice…
Know the difference between a goal and a commitment. A goal has an end line that you work towards in the hope of achieving. A commitment is something you should work on constantly. Your commitment to your customers should be never-ending. Understanding them and committing 100 per cent to their needs, is one of the best ways to grow your business, naturally and sustainably.

Hanady Amin is the assets director at Meydan Free Zone

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