In the commercial world, lots of phrases are often repeated but rarely understood. They’re those classic buzzwords or terms that everyone uses without really thinking. Business operations is a prime example.

You’ll have heard the phrase ‘business operations’ hundreds of times. On how many occasions, though, have you stopped to really think about it? Perhaps now is as good a time as any to consider what business operations are.  

Business Operations: A Definition

Business operations is a term used to define a broad range of activities. In essence, it refers to everything a firm does day-to-day to keep running and making money. Those activities, therefore, can differ hugely from one company to the next.

Take an online store, for example. Their typical business operations might include:

  • Marketing.
  • Order management.
  • Web design & development.
  • Sales. 
  • Inventory management.
  • Warehousing and fulfillment

A digital marketing agency’s operations, meanwhile, cover a different range of activities:

  • Building a client’s SaaS SEO strategy.
  • Performing keyword research.
  • Copywriting.
  • Link building.

The specifics of business operations, then, are individual to each business. There are, though, some shared aspects across the board.  

Aspects of Business Operations

The particular business operations of any firm often fall into one of a trio of categories.

1. Processes.

The processes aspect of business operations is the bread and butter. These are the activities vital to a business’s survival. Getting your processes correct is essential to any firm. It’s what ensures you can maintain productivity and, therefore, profitability. 

2. Human resources.

In order to cover its vital processes, a business’s operations also encompass HR. Firms must ensure they have the correct workforce to perform their essential activities. That might mean building a full-time staff. In the online age, it may also involve working with digital nomads and freelancers. 

3. Technology or plant.

As well as a team of workers, companies also need equipment or tools. These are the essential solutions to keeping operations as efficient as possible. For a manufacturing firm, that may mean a significant amount of machinery and plant. For a call center, it could be workforce management software to better roster and organize agents. 

Improving Your Business Operations

Making vital business operations as efficient as possible is crucial. It can be the difference between success and failure. That’s especially true in competitive niches like ecommerce. How, then, can you improve business operations?

1. Tracking performance.

The first step toward improving any business operation is to grasp where you stand. Once you know how you’re performing, you can ID an avenue to improvement. Your first priority then is to monitor performance. 

What to look out for in this area varies. A brand selling ACD software, for instance, might want to track the following: 

  • Total sales.
  • Volume of client queries or complaints.
  • Most common subjects of the above.
  • Uptime of software (if delivered on a SaaS model)

Many of those considerations wouldn’t apply to an ecommerce clothing brand. They’re still interested in sales. They may also, though, want to track website bounce rate, and other similar metrics.  

2. Streamlining or automation.

Once you understand your present performance, it’s easier to make useful tweaks. You’ll know the processes to focus on for improvements. You can then look to streamline those areas of operations. That may mean automating particular workflows or hiring new, differently skilled staff. 

3. Following broader trends.

You can also look outward to improve business operations. As well as tracking your performance keep an eye on your niche. What are your rivals up to? What are the broad trends in the industry? What you’re looking for are things you can adopt to up efficiency and productivity. 


Every business has vital tasks and activities that keep them running. These are the processes that are essential to survival, growth, and success. Put together, they’re known as business operations.

Getting your business operations as efficient and effective as possible is essential. It’s how you can achieve a level of productivity to outstrip your rivals. When trying to make improvements, look both inward and outward. That way, you can find those small tweaks that can make a big difference. 

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