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How to get an entry-level business operations job

Role Basics: What is Business operations? 

Business Operations (or Biz Ops) is like a special ops team for tech strategy and operations. They get assigned to solve tough problems that fall between other functions. 

Example biz ops projects:

  • Improve activation and daily active use for new product feature. 
  • Understand why engagement tanked in a feature. 
  • Improve efficiency and satisfaction in customer service call center. 
  • Manage a roadmapping process across a large business unit.
  • Manage experiment to improve key operational metrics.  

Common activities in biz ops:

  • Analyze data to understand what’s causing a problem. 
  • Develop strategic recommendations and present them to executives
  • Manage multi-stakeholder processes. 
  • Roll out organization-wide policy changes. 

Biz Ops metrics:

  • Most Biz Ops teams don’t own metrics themselves, but are responsible for improving operational metrics for specific projects. These could include: 
  • Daily Active User : Monthly Active User Ratio (Product), 
  • CSAT score (Customer Service), 
  • NPS (Product), 
  • Or many others. 

Biz Ops compensation:

Entry jobs pay $80-120K. (Though you can’t get them without prior work experience.) 

Biz Ops career path:

Great career: can lead to leadership in any function. Operations, finance, strategy and product are common – depending on a company’s Biz Ops culture and focus.

How accessible are Biz Ops jobs?

  • Time to learn. Most Biz Ops roles require 2+ years prior experience, and skills that take 500+ hours to master. 
  • Selectivity. Biz Ops is very selective. High-status college, sterling resume, exceptional communications and analytical thinking required. Biz ops is one of the hardest functions to break into – you’re competing against people from McKinsey and Harvard Business School.
  • Ease of working remote. It’s more difficult to work remote. Biz Ops works between teams, so this role is particularly hard to do remotely — unless the entire company is remote.

Job Requirements: What you need to be competitive for biz ops?

Key skills for Biz Ops:

  • Analytical thinking, Empirical mindset 
  • Unit economic analysis, Cohort Analysis
  • Spreadsheet modeling
  • Basic SQL and data analysis
  • Leading without formal influence
  • Asking questions and listening
  • Great verbal communication, Presents well
  • Great writing 
  • PowerPoint

Professional background for Biz Ops:

Highly analytical, problem-solving roles where you can optimize efficiency of resources (like operations, performance/growth marketing). An MBA helps here. 

Prior accomplishments to be competitive for Biz Ops: 

 Recruiters look for evidence of analytical problem-solving, like: 

  • (Customer service background) Analyzed data to create strategy to improve 20-person call center operations, decreasing wait time 25%, while customers grew 200%, and CSAT improved 65%
  • (Strategy background) Led strategy and project across 400-person ops team that increased productivity 15%, saving $5 million per year

Personal characteristics for success in business operations: 

Data- and out-come oriented. Very intelligent.

How to prepare for and get a job in Biz Ops? 

Projects to learn and prove yourself:

  • Find a company or nonprofit, and offer to do a strategy and operations project for them where you take responsibility for improving a significant metric or piece of their operations that they don’t have time to work on right now
  • Help a company create a profitability backlog 
  • Learn to use SQL 
  • Learn to use common a/b testing tools and frameworks
  • Analyze a company’s acquisition cost, retention, and LTV by channel to help them identify where to invest
  • Do cohort analysis for a recurring revenue business

Step-by-step process to get a Biz Ops job:

  1. Get 1-2 years experience in a biz ops feeder job 
  2. Master the language and concepts of tech 
  3. Make sure you build essential verifiable skills for biz ops
  4. Make sure to do at least 1 great reference project (described above)
  5. Revise your LinkedIn profile
  6. Conduct informational interviews to understand the role and build your network for biz ops
  7. Start applying for jobs

Key concepts and resources for Biz Ops

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