Peter Drucker, one of the fathers of modern business, once said, "Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership."
But leaders can’t do everything. They need experts to rely on; to provide them with the insights they need to make the right decisions. Where can they find this support with the skills, foresight, and desire to curb the inevitable issues that will come up in any business?
BizOps (Business Operations) is a discipline in which professionals with strong backgrounds in analytics and project management uncover solutions to some of the thorniest issues a business may face.
BizOps started at companies like Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Google, but other organizations have now followed their lead, making the career field increasingly larger.
BizOps is here to stay, and it's only going to grow as more and more tech companies and start-ups look to optimize their growth and operations.
If you’re looking to start a career in BizOps, this article will unpack everything you need to know.
What is BizOps?
To understand BizOps, we need to understand where it came from. Before BizOps, we had DevOps. The agile methods of product development core to DevOps revolutionized how we build technology in the 21st century.
But this evolution in product development created a gap between them and business units like sales, marketing, and customer success. This led to what many executives called organizational chaos, according to an HBR survey of executives.
To bridge the gap, BizOps came into play. This role was and is responsible for ensuring that a company runs smoothly and efficiently into the future. Dan Yoo, an early BizOps professional at LinkedIn, describes BizOps as “the connective tissue in tech companies.”
One of the main goals of BizOps is to help a company scale. As a company grows, its operations become more complex. BizOps teams work to streamline processes and find efficiencies so that the company can continue to grow without running into roadblocks.
Startups and fast-growing companies usually have a BizOps team because they need to focus on efficiency and scalability from the get-go. This model is sweeping the business community, and a staggering 89% of executives swear by it.
Rather than siloing off different aspects of business operations — human resources, finance, and supply chain management — organizations can benefit from a centralized BizOps team that can plug into all of the company’s operations and to ensure that they’re running at peak efficiency.
If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding career, BizOps is a great option for numerous reasons. First off, you’ll have a direct impact on the success of the company. The BizOps team is often the one making decisions about how a company will grow and stepping in to put out any fires that arise.
You’ll also work with different teams and learn a myriad of new skills. BizOps is inherently cross-functional, so your career will introduce you to all the ins and outs of a business. It’s a great way to experience it all!
Additionally, if you excel in your role, you may find yourself in a leadership position sooner than you thought.
To top it off, there are lots of diverse opportunities in the sector, and they aren’t going away. Companies are always looking for ways to improve their operations, which means there’s always demand for talented BizOps professionals.
What You Do as a BizOps Professional
BizOps professionals are responsible for the smooth operation of a company. They work to streamline processes and make sure that all teams are working together efficiently.
They work alongside many different functions, but they are still distinct. For example, BizOps professionals may plan to expand into new markets, but they’re different from the growth teams that will execute the marketing activities within the expansion.
In short, they make sure that the company is running like a well-oiled machine.
The day-to-day duties of a BizOps professional can vary depending on the size and structure of the company. To go into more detail about what this kind of role might entail, we unpack the roles and responsibilities of a business operations professional in this guide. Below, however, we’ll go over the basics.
A BizOps team will be looking at every aspect of a company and trying to identify "pain points" or where problems are likely to arise as the company continues to grow.
This data analysis can be done through several different methods but usually includes a mix of surveys, interviews, and focus groups with employees. After the qualitative “inputs” are gathered, BizOps professionals also need technical prowess in spreadsheet analysis, financial modeling, and SQL to draw insights from large swaths of data.
That being said, Alyssa Higgins, VP of Business Operations at CipherHealth, shares that “being analytical in problem-solving is a key skill, but being a good listener and collaborator is what will help make sure the recommended solutions have the desired impact.”
As you’ll see, BizOps requires a range of technical and soft skills. These diverse skills give BizOps professionals a birds-eye-view to foresee problems on the horizon.
Developing Processes and Procedures
Once potential problems have been identified, it's up to the BizOps team to develop processes and procedures that will mitigate those issues. Unlike a consultant who identifies issues, but doesn’t actually execute on them, BizOps practitioners get the job done.
BizOps’ ability to create systems is part of what makes the role so valuable. Again, Alyssa Higgins at CipherHealth argues that, ”every type of company is in need of experienced BizOps professionals. I believe that at every size and stage, a BizOps professional can help the company achieve its goals. This might take the shape of managing strategic projects, creating tools for business intelligence, or developing efficient processes that help the business scale.”
Communicating with Teams
BizOps professionals need to be able to communicate effectively with all teams within a company to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This includes being able to explain complex concepts in a way that everyone can understand.
Cross-functional leadership skills are also a prerequisite to success as a BizOps professional. Tobey Wyatt, a BizOps Consultant at Motherlode Consulting, shares that “acting as the ‘ship counselor’ as many issues are about charged situations, interpersonal dynamics, or communications issues” is a daily part of her role.
Implementation and Monitoring
Coming up with strategies is a key part of BizOps, but it doesn’t end there. BizOps professionals will frequently build robust systems that enable front-line teams to do their best work together and execute on those strategies.
Tobey Wyatt emphasizes that “BizOps is focused on building the tools, involving the right resources, and making sure the processes and flow of work across the organization makes sense.”
Whether it’s identifying skill gaps in employees or building reporting systems to monitor performance, BizOps professionals will build the supporting infrastructure to make sure it’s not just a good idea on paper but is also accomplished without error.
No matter how well you plan, there will always be unforeseen issues that arise. That's why a top-notch BizOps professional will be ever-vigilant. They'll be responsible for quickly identifying and resolving any problems that come up.
Sujay Seetharaman, Chief of Staff at PipeCandy, clarifies that a core responsibility of BizOps is to “put out fires every day with the intention to ensure alignment in workflow and outcomes.”
Ensuring Buy-In from Stakeholders
Before BizOps leaders can drive forward their plans, they need to champion them to leadership teams. Without buy-in, they’ll only ever have good ideas.
Deanna Sinclair, Head of Operations at Polly, shares that seasoned BizOps professionals will have “air-tight organization and communication skills— knowing what and how to organize [projects] and then how to communicate them to stakeholders.” She also believes that “these two skills have propelled me the most in my role.”
BizOps experts need to keep founders, CEOs, executive teams, and public stakeholders in the loop and updated on project progress. They do this through compelling strategy decks that include regular reporting and updates, as well as objection handling for any concerns that might arise.
Who Does a BizOps Practitioner Work Alongside?
Every professional knows that they are only as strong as the team they have beside them. Your closest companions will be the other members of your BizOps team. This team can range in size from 2-5 people for a smaller company all the way up to 18 or more.
Alyssa Higgins explains that “similar to other functions, a small company might need a more generally-focused BizOps professional, and as a company grows, the need for specialized experience will grow with it.”
Because BizOps is close to the leadership team, you will also be working with all other functions within a company. That includes sales, marketing, customer success, finance, and legal.
It is important to develop strong relationships with these teams so you can ensure that everyone is coordinated and aligned on common goals. BizOps is truly the connective tissue for a company, so interpersonal skills are a must.
One of the closest allies of a BizOps team is Product Management. While BizOps ensures that all systems are running efficiently and stakeholders are aligned, Product Managers (PMs) work specifically with their product teams to ideate, execute, and optimize new product launches.
Deanna Sinclair at Polly echoes Sujay, saying, “product management relates directly to the product itself and… the lifecycle journey of the customer. In BizOps, your client is the business itself and you are constantly analyzing and refining the business journey.”
In short, BizOps professionals build the organizational infrastructure for PMs (and everyone else) to thrive.
The Salary Ranges For BizOps Roles
Even though BizOps professionals are all a part of a very high-functioning team, there are still different levels of responsibility within that team. Likewise, salary as a BizOps professional changes with tenure.
For example, Glassdoor states that a Business Operations Specialist is most likely to make between $51,000 and $74,000 a year. A Business Operations Manager can expect a salary between $70,000 and $113,000, while a Senior Manager can expect between $97,000 and $159,000.
Additionally, a Head of Business Operations can make upwards of $200,000, with the majority of people in this position having 5-7 years of experience. If you continue in this field, it very quickly becomes lucrative.
When you start, you’ll likely need to have a more general knowledge of everything in a business, but eventually, you’ll specialize. This role is a great way to learn what you need to become a leader. For example, the CEO of Glassdoor and the VP of Product at LinkedIn both started as BizOps Professionals.
The Companies That Hire For Business Operations Roles
As we mentioned, many tech companies and start-ups are on the hunt for qualified and professional BizOps professionals. However, BizOps jobs span all kinds of companies.
For instance, when asked what kinds of companies are in the biggest need of experienced BizOps professionals, Sujay Seetharaman, Chief of Staff at PipeCandy, said, “series A and beyond. 50+ employees.”
Often, early stage companies prioritize other roles before BizOps. And that’s reasonable. BizOps practitioners add the most value when the company grows to a point where complexity can become an issue.
That being said, Deanna Sinclair, Head of Operations at Polly, answered the same question, saying, “companies of all sizes and at all stages use business ops roles differently. The early stage 0-100 person companies are probably the most in need of experienced BizOps pros.”
One thing is for certain: the skills that Business Operations entail are important for a company’s success and stability—whatever the size.
Below is a list of some notable companies that have hired for Business Operations roles in the past:
- Disney Streaming Services
In addition to large, established brands, later-stage startups also hire BizOps professionals like:
- Sense the Talent Engagement Platform
- And more on our BizOps job board.
If you’re looking for advice on how to hire your first BizOps professional, we’ve provided an example BizOps job description as well as advice on how what to look for in a potential hire.
How to Build a Career in BizOps
One of the most daunting parts of getting into a new career is finding where to start. Every BizOps professional will have a different career path, but there are some things to keep in mind.
The Skills Of BizOps Professionals
What does it take to land a BizOps role?
Let’s look at what experienced BizOps professionals say,
- “Systems thinking,” says Sujay Seetharaman at PipeCandy
- “Someone who can handle ambiguity, someone who has demonstrated adaptability, someone who is a creative thinker but also knows when to go with established best practices,” explains Tobey Wyatt from Motherlode Consulting
- In addition to strong analytical and problem-solving skills, Alyssa Higgins at CipherHealth states, “being a good listener and collaborator is what will help make sure the recommended solutions have the desired impact.”
Companies also look for potential candidates that have the ability to:
- Make business decisions using data and analytics
- Drive metrics through process and tooling changes
- See the "big picture" while managing the tiniest details
- Communicate across different departments and levels of seniority
- Handle multiple projects at once
If you’re looking for a more in-depth look at what will be required of you, be sure to check out this article on the top skills a BizOps leader needs.
The Roles That Offer Transferable Skills Into BizOps
If you don't have those skills just yet, don't worry. There are lots of jobs out there that will allow you to learn on the go and become the ultimate BizOps pro in no time. Keep an eye out for opportunities like:
- Business Analyst
- Project Manager
- Product Manager
- Operations Manager
- Strategy Consultant
- Investment Banker
Amanda Swim, Director, Business Operations at Zendesk highlights that the “most common [background] is absolutely consulting, because it provides a training ground. But problem solvers can come from other teams as well. Being a generalist can really help also.”
Regardless of your background, these roles all require a deep understanding of how businesses work, what their goals and objectives are, and how to align various teams and initiatives to achieve those goals. These are certainly transferable to BizOps.
Tips For Getting Your First Interview
So you've got the experience, you've got the drive, and you're ready to jump into your new career as a Business Operations. But how do you get your first interview? Well, for starters, you'll want to make sure your resume is up to snuff.
In addition to listing your relevant experience, be sure to highlight any skills that would make you a valuable asset to a BizOps team. These might include project management, data analysis, and process improvement.
Once your resume is in order, start reaching out to your network.
Let everyone know you're looking for opportunities in BizOps, and be sure to mention any specific skills or experience you have that might be relevant. You never know who might have a connection that can help you get your first interview.
If you don’t have any connections to this field, don’t fret. One of the best ways to find BizOps roles is through the BizOps Network job board. They even have a plethora of articles that can help you land a BizOps role.
Finally, don't forget to brush up on your interviewing skills. This is your chance to show potential employers what you're made of, so come prepared with examples of your work that demonstrate your ability to solve problems and drive results.
Ready to Build a Career in BizOps?
Building a career in Business Operations can be a great way to use your problem-solving skills to drive results. You’ll be able to oversee all aspects of a business and learn every day on the job.
With tons of opportunities and lucrative growth potential, there’s never been a better time to start. You can work with some of the biggest names in tech or get in on the ground floor of the innovators of the future.
There’s never a dull moment in BizOps, as you anticipate and handle issues in all areas of a company, leading to meaningful connections and relationships in every area of business.
The best way to start your journey toward becoming a highly sought-after BizOps professional is to start learning and networking. A great way to do that is through the BizOps Network.
The BizOps Network is a private community of professionals from some of the fastest-growing and most successful startups and enterprises around the world.
You can start networking with one of their member-led peer-to-peer pods that help develop all the skills of a successful BizOps professional. You’ll learn collaboration, communication, and emotional intelligence that will help you become an effective leader.
If you’re looking for more one-on-one help, they also offer mentorship and coaching, as well as access to a growing library of resources.
It’s never too late to build a career you’ll love. Start working towards a life as a BizOps professional and keep ahead of the curve. Apply here.