How to become a Business Operations Manager

The business operations role (biz ops) is one that is becoming increasingly popular at both startups and at mature companies. Business operations typically refers to the processes and functions that a business carries out on a day-to-day basis to run smoothly and effectively. It encompasses everything from resource management to performance analysis and process improvement.

What does a business operations manager do?

Here are some of the key responsibilities that business operations managers are tasked with:

- Building Business Processes - Creating efficient systems and workflows for all core functions like product development, marketing, sales, customer support, HR, etc. This includes documenting processes.

- Operational Agility - Adjusting operations quickly as the business evolves. This requires being comfortable with change and uncertainty.

- Resource Optimization - Carefully managing limited resources including human capital, equipment, office space, supplies, etc. This involves budget oversight.

- Scaling Operations - Developing infrastructure and capabilities to support rapid growth. Planning for operational needs at each stage.

- Data Analysis - Tracking KPIs and metrics to monitor performance. Using data to guide business strategy and operational decisions.

- Vendor/Supplier Management - Establishing relationships with vendors and overseeing supply chain logistics.

- G&A - Leading special projects like managing office space, ensuring legal and regulatory compliance, overseeing technical infrastructure, establishing company culture and policies, etc.

What types of companies will be hiring for business operations managers?

The business operations function is typically established, or expanded, once certain milestones or growth stages are hit within a company. For example:

- Moving Beyond Startup Stage - When a company has gotten product-market fit, has early traction and customers, and is looking to scale, having dedicated operations roles brings more structure.

- Beyond 10-20 Employees - As headcount grows, work and processes need to be better coordinated across more people and teams. A centralized operations function becomes important.

- Opening Additional Locations - If expanding into multiple offices or locations, centralized operations helps maintain consistency and alignment.

- Launching New Business Units - New branches, divisions, or revenue streams often necessitate dedicated operations support.

- Raising Significant Investment - Growth capital from investors usually requires operational discipline and scaling capabilities that a focused operations team can provide.

- Introducing New Systems - Integrating major new IT systems like ERPs or CRMs benefits from operations expertise to ensure adoption and value realization.

- Expanding Globally - International expansion requires new operational capabilities to address regulations, supply chains, localization and more that operations staff can handle.

- Diversifying Offerings - Companies adding more complex products or services need operations to manage the additional complexity.

- Revenue Over $10M+ - Most companies seem to bring on dedicated operations roles once annual revenues exceed $10M - $20M+ in order to build out operational infrastructure.

A good way to track funding and growth is via Crunchbase, or keeping up to date on companies via LinkedIn. Often, once a company announces a significant milestone or expansion plan, there is a likelihood that they will be hiring soon after that.

What skills does one need to be a business operations manager?

If you scan LinkedIn, you’ll see that the majority of business operations candidates come from either (a) a background in professional services - whether management consulting, investment banking, private equity, etc., or (b) a cross-functional background as a operator on the business side of an organization (i.e., rising into biz ops from a sales / GTM role, or even an HR role).

What matters most tends to be the underlying skillsets a business operations manager possesses: The best candidates have a balance of strategic thinking, analytical skills, process orientation, and business management capabilities. Some operations experience is helpful, but not always required.

Here are some of the key skills needed to be an effective business operations manager:

- Strategic Thinking - Ability to understand and support overarching business goals and translate them into operational plans and initiatives.

- Process Orientation - Knowledge of process mapping and workflow optimization to improve efficiency and productivity.

- Project Management - Juggling multiple initiatives simultaneously and coordinating execution through careful planning.

- Data Analysis - Using data to derive operational insights, track KPIs, identify issues, and guide decisions. Strong analytical skills.

- Problem Solving - Finding solutions to operational challenges, gaps, bottlenecks, and problems impacting performance.

- Collaboration - Partnering with other departments and stakeholders to optimize end-to-end processes. Strong relationship management skills.

- Leadership - Leading operations teams, managing performance, developing talent, and influencing without direct authority.

- Communication - Communicating operational metrics, risks, and initiatives across the organization to various audiences. Articulate speaking and writing.

- Adaptability - Adjusting quickly to changes in business needs and operational environment. Comfort with ambiguity.

- Technology Proficiency - Leveraging various software tools for operations processes and data. Learning new systems quickly.

- Organizational Skills - Coordinating complex operations responsibilities in an efficient and orderly manner. Strong multi-tasking abilities.

- Business Acumen - Understanding how all parts of the business work together to fulfill the core mission and deliver value.

The most effective operations managers have a diverse skill set combining technical capabilities with strategy, leadership and collaboration skills.

What should I expect when interviewing for a business operations manager role?

Many startups and companies hiring into a business operations manager role typically will have a 3-5 step interview process, consisting of a few rounds of intro / behavioral screens, a case study / take-home component which typically tests for your analytical and data-driven abilities, and a set of final rounds, often to gauge stakeholder management and communication abilities.

If you are interested in learning more about Business Operations roles (or hiring for a Business Operations hire), please reach out to us at

Omna is a boutique search firm that specializes in helping PE- and VC-backed companies hire top business talent.