The Importance of Operations for Scaling Digital Businesses

An interview with Willemijn Maas, Operations Consultant for 6-figure digital entrepreneurs

Who is Willemijn Maas and what are you about in the world?

WM: I’m an Operations Strategist & Certified Director of Operations and I support 6-figure digital entrepreneurs to create more profit, make data-driven decisions, and to scale their business in a sustainable way.

I know that you are coming to this field from a very different background. What inspired you to switch lanes?

WM: That’s right, I started my career in healthcare and I have worked as a Medical Doctor for 15 years. At the end of my medical career I had already shifted to Operations and Project Management, but I had to redesign my work when I lost my job due to illness.
I found the online space and decided to use my analytical thinking, expertise in process improvement and love for data and numbers to support online business as they scale. Operations is a field that is applicable to every type of business, but it’s especially needed for fast growing digital entrepreneurs since they deal with tech, software systems, funnels and remote teams and the expertise is often not present when the business started as a solo endeavor.

What do you see as the biggest challenges digital entrepreneurs face when it comes to Operations?

WM: I see a couple of things. First of all, a lot of businesses lack the knowledge about the importance of Operations and how it is foundational to scale a business in the first place. That means that entrepreneurs are only focusing on marketing, sales, and delivery and ask themselves why they keep struggling, or why it’s so hard to scale or work with a team. This leads to the constant creation of new products, which in turn leads to even more chaos and overwhelm, and disappointment.

Secondly, they wait too long when it comes to hiring support and don’t have the systems in place to set their new team members up for success. There is a lack of documentation in the business, project management is rudimentary and communication is ineffective.

And lastly, most entrepreneurs don’t know how to track what is working and what is not working so they are using a lot of energy on ‘hit or miss’ content creation, trying out a million things at once, or constantly creating new things just for the sake of putting stuff out there. If they would use the data that is already collected in their systems and make data-driven decisions, they would be able to be much more efficient, more profitable, and do way less, while being confident and secure in their business decisions. It would put them in the CEO role of their business immediately.

What do entrepreneurs often misunderstand about Operations?

WM: That it is boring, not for them, not necessary, or vague. They don’t know what it is and therefore don’t consider it urgent. This keeps them in a loop of overthinking, overwhelm, and busyness and slows down their business growth.

If you had to explain Operations to an 8 year old, what would say?

WM: Think about business as a car. You have this shiny awesome car and you want to drive it from A to B. But when the engine, the electronics, or the fuel injection don’t work, you will be stuck in the driveway. Operations is everything that goes on under the hood of the car. It’s essential but it’s not in plain sight.

What is some advice you could give to anyone who wants to start implementing or strengthening Operations in their business?

WM: Talk to an Operations professional. Find someone in your business network who is an Operations Manager, Director of Operations, Online Business Manager or Operations Assistant, and ask them if you can share some of your business challenges. Be open and transparent about your struggles. There is no shame in not knowing what you don’t know. They will be able to help you, point you in the right direction, or work with you on what moves the needle. Remember that Operations professionals are very service minded and thrive on excellence and efficiency. And they don’t bite. 🙂

Secondly, leverage the data that is present in your business. It means the difference between making money or making a loss. You can be so much more confident in your business decisions when you know that they are based on information about what is working and what is not working. That is why I created a specialized service around this – Measure What Matters – in which I set up a customized visual dashboard that shows in real time what is happening, what to invest in and what to focus on. It’s a real game changer.

What is the most important lesson you have learned over the years?

WM: Ever since I lost my job due to illness, I have learned the importance of health and wellness as pivotal for business growth. Without your body or your health, you don’t have a business. I always talk about this with my clients as well, as part of their growth strategy. It can’t be ignored. Your business has to be sustainable, and it needs to sustain you, not the other way around.