Five Roles of Startup: Operations

HR, Finance, Legal, Administration
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The five roles I'm discussing in this series are general, but intended to identify everyone inside and outside the startup's organization. You must have someone playing all five roles, and in the early days, two or more of these roles are probably going to be played by the same person.

The prior three installments in the Five Roles of Startup series were all about getting product out and revenue in. With Vision we set up leadership, with Build we're getting the product made, and with Sales we're putting the product into the hands of customers, the lifeblood of your startup.

You might think that once those three roles are filled, you can just sit back, repeat the cycle over and over, and carve out a lifelong career with maybe a golf membership and a better car than you would have driven otherwise.

I'm here to tell you that you probably can.

You were expecting the opposite, weren't you? Come on, admit it, you thought I was setting you up to slam the door in the face of your dreams.

Sure. Fine. It's no guarantee, but if you can dominate Vision, Build, and Sales, keep your employees motivated as they grow more experienced, stay relevant and unique, keep out of hot water, and continually solve customer problems in a way that makes them happy, you can repeat the cycle until you retire.

No joke, I'm totally cool with you doing that. Chances are, however, that you won't be totally cool with that. At least not for long.

So the final two installments in the Five Roles series are about building a better, faster, stronger company, with less emphasis on the product. The role I'm going to talk about in this lesson is one you need to think about every day. And to be honest, you have to fill this role whether you want to be the biggest company in your industry or you just want to coast.

Operations keeps your startup afloat, tasked with making sure that your company is doing well today and that it's set up to do better tomorrow.

These people are the gears, the nuts and bolts, the heart of the company. These are the folks in charge of finding your employees, keeping an eye on the money, making sure you stay out of trouble, and otherwise helping everyone else focus on their job.

Again, there are probably dozens of specific roles that make up Operations, and the very term can mean different things to different people. However, most of the role breaks down into a few broad, necessary components.


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