- The Bottleneck
- ⚙️ The Ops Playbook #8
⚙️ The Ops Playbook #8
Build an Ops Team from Scratch
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Read Time: 3.8 Minutes
Good Morning Operators ⚙️
If you're building an ops team from scratch and aim for 'good enough,' congratulations, you’ve become another forgettable startup.
Your team should be to operations what Steve Jobs was to product design—obsessive, disruptive, and continually raising the bar.
So how do you build an ops team from scratch? Well, that’s what we’ll talk about today.
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The Big Idea
The What: A TLDR of the idea
You're sitting in a dimly lit room.
The buzzing from your Slack notifications fills the room, each ping like a small needle prick to your focus, another fire that needs putting out.
You have product-market fit, a rockstar tech team, and burgeoning customer demand.
Yet, as the de facto COO, you feel like the weakest link.
Because you’re handling all of the operational workload.
You need an unstoppable operations force that can turn your startup's vision into reality.
How do you build a strong operations team from scratch—and fast— that can not only keep you balanced but also clear the path ahead?
The Why: 3 reasons why you should care
1. Efficiency isn’t cute, it’s crucial 😅 →
You can't afford inefficiency. Every second someone on your team is doing something stupid or redundant, a competitor is getting ahead. It's that simple.
2. Culture isn’t built on pizza Friday 🍕 →
Forget ping-pong tables and pet-friendly offices; culture is built in the trenches of everyday work. Your ops team is your culture’s architect.
Mess it up, and you'll end up with a team that has a LinkedIn tab always open.
3. Scalability isn’t Optional, Its the Goal 🎯 →
Everyone talks about scaling like it's a milestone to reach.
It’s not a destination; it’s your modus operandi. If your ops team isn't built to adapt and scale, break it down and start again.
The How: 3 ways to handle this
1. Hire for the right skill AND Attitude 🛩️ →
Having the right skills is table stakes. You're looking for someone with experience in operations (obviously), project management skills, and, preferably, familiarity with the startup ecosystem.
Make sure you set up skill-based tasks during the interview process. You're looking for problem-solvers, not just resume padders.
Attitude is something I can't stress enough. You want someone whose attitude syncs with your culture.
Check their social media. How do they interact with people? Are they perpetually angry or uplifting?
Ask unconventional interview questions. “Describe a time you messed up at work” is way more revealing than “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Once the interview is done, imagine you’re stranded in an airport with this person for six hours. Would you want to tear your hair out, or could you enjoy a deep conversation with them? Skills can be taught; camaraderie and cultural fit cannot.
2. Clearly defined roles are key 🤨 →
Forget the cut-and-paste job descriptions. For each role, define not just the 'what' but also the 'why.' Why does this role exist? If you can't articulate its purpose in a sentence, rethink it.
Set roles but allow room for pivots. As you scale, roles will evolve.
Make this clear to your team. The role they are in today might not be the role they are in six months from now, and that's not just okay; it's expected.
Use a RACI matrix for each project to clarify who is doing what. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. It's a simple tool but ridiculously effective in preventing conflicts and overlaps.
3. Tech Stack 🧑💻 →
You want tools that are intuitive, reliable, and robust.
These aren’t just tools; they’re the foundation of your operations.
80% of your outcomes will come from 20% of your tools. Identify that crucial 20%, and don't skimp on it. If a tool saves your team even an hour a week, it's already paying for itself.
Every quarter, review your tech stack. Is it serving your needs? Is there redundancy? New tools always come out, and it’s crucial to remain agile. Always be willing to ditch a tool if it becomes the weakest link.
Small ask: If you enjoyed today’s post, I’d be incredibly grateful if you helped others discover The Bottleneck. Please hit me with a fav or repost on my tweet below.
It's 4 AM in a cramped, dimly lit room.
You smell vaguely of day-old coffee and missed opportunities.
Buried under your desk is layers of:
- strategic plans
- market analyses
- paperweights that bring good luck.
The buzzing from your Slack notifications fills the room, each… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
— Rameel Sheikh ⚙️ (@ramshe1000)
Oct 23, 2023
What Next: 3 resources to learn more
Bonus: What I consumed this week
Tool of the Week
Check Out: A new tool I found this week
As I continue to expand The Bottleneck, I’ve been deep-diving into automating lead generation. A tool I’ve come across that is promising is PhantomBuster.
The tool is like a specialized lead generation tool like Apollo meets Zapier.
Let a “Phantom” generate masses of leads from where you find them, then export them into a simple spreadsheet.
You can gather your ideal targets 24/7 to drive your revenue and growth goals on autopilot.
* not sponsored. Just thought it was cool.
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