[TEMPLATE] Productive Profits® Core Operations: Transform Your Business Into a Machine & Asset That You Can Leverage to Further Scale Your Impact

Dear Digital Consultant, 

When I say “business operations,” what do you think? 

Pause for a minute and think about this. 

What do you feel? 

Tense? At ease? Uncertain? Unaware? Confident? 
“Business operations” may seem intangible or feel like the 100 little things that have to happen for your business to run. 

At its core, your business operations is design

And you get to design how your business operates in its simplest form before all the 100 little things get done. 

Your Core Operations is the design of your business engine, running to help you drive your company and your mission forward. 

And it doesn’t have to be too complicated…

It can be as simple as this 1 template to run, grow and optimize your entire business. 

It also doesn’t have to take months to develop, like some popular business operations books preach it will take (they clearly don’t understand you need to get results today while you build the future.)

Your Core Operations will require just a few focused and intentional hours to complete. 


Because it’s an iterative process, and your business evolves as you grow. 
With this simple template, my goal is that you’ll be able to design your business into a powerful machine and asset that you can leverage to continually scale your impact and provide you options in your future. Options like selling the asset, entering a strategic merger or passing the machine on to a new generation. 

In this Digital Growth Ops strategy, you’ll be empowered to: 
  1. Identify Which Habits In Your Company Drive Your Business Forward
  2. Show Your Team How To Positively Influence Your Company’s Bottom Line 
  3. Easily Create Attainable Yet Aggressive Goals On Your Key Levers That Will Influence Your Company’s Health
  4. Get An Instant Pulse Of Your Company At Any Given Time
  5. Perfect The Most Important Actions In Your Company

The Productive Profits® Core Operations Template At A Glance

Spreadsheets run businesses. And this simple sheet can certainly help run and optimize your entire business. 

My goal is not to have you use this spreadsheet per se, my goal is to highlight the principles at play to empower you with the key insights that you can apply to whatever tool you decide to use, spreadsheet or not. 

You’ll notice the Core Operations template includes: 
  • oKPIs (operating KPIs) 
  • Lagging indicators 
  • Habits
  • KPI Notes
  • KPI Source
  • Owner
  • SOPs (standard operating procedures) 

Below we will dive into each specific section of the Core Operations template and in doing so help build your Core Operations.  

Building Your Core Operations

Your oKPIs & Habits

(Core Operations Example for a Digital Services Agency)

On the left-hand side of the template, we have oKPIs and “Metrics Calculated From These Actions”. 
Your oKPIs (operating key performance indicators) are your leading indicators: metrics that you can influence and that will cascade into determining your future overall company performance. 

“Metrics Calculated From These Actions” are your lagging indicators: metrics that give you a past performance health check for your overall company performance and for specific functions of your company. 

The beauty of your oKPIs are the following: 
  • You have complete control over the level of influence and impact you want to make for these oKPIs
  • There are a limited number of oKPIs within your company which means you can be really focused 
  • You can design your team around your oKPIs

The first step is to identify what your oKPIs are for your company and then we can determine the behaviors and actions that drive their performance. 

Identifying your oKPIs

In human anatomy: the design, bone structure, muscle fibers, nervous system and so on are very similar from one healthy adult to another. Yet what makes each one of us unique and one of a kind are our thoughts, personalities, behaviors, calling, dreams, and desires.  

This is very similar to your business. 

Your business design, bone structure, muscle fiber, and so on are extremely similar to other businesses. 

You need some form of marketing, sales, operations, fulfillment, finance, and labor to execute your work, make an impact and reach your business goals. 

Your oKPIs are the bone, muscle, and nervous system of your business. 

And I have found that with every client, team and business I have had the great pleasure and honor to work with, there are only a few oKPIs that you have to focus on: most ranging from around 9 upwards to 12. 

Typically your oKPIs are in line with your business model and customer journey. Aligned with the logical sequence, you get clients, service clients, and grow your company. 

Your oKPIs will typically line up with your: 
  • Marketing that helps you acquire new opportunities 
  • Sales process to serve and sign up new business
  •  Onboarding and fulfillment of new clients 
  • Administration and running of your business to remain healthy 

Again this “business DNA” is similar to all businesses; however, you may market, sell, onboard, fulfill and run your business in a unique style or format. 
We want to highlight that and imprint it in your oKPI design. 

In [TEMPLATE] 80/20 Business Clarity & Growth Planning I go over the exact Growth Plan strategy I review with clients. To help you identify your oKPIs, I’d like to highlight the list of all areas that you can focus on within your business.

I’ll list them out below, as well as they may be beneficial in helping you identify your oKPIs. 
Remember, we want to select the oKPIs that drive future performance, not that report on past performance. 

  • Positioning and messaging plan
  • Brand development/refinement/reinforcement 
  • Customer journey map and conversion optimization
  • Inbound strategy 
  • Referral program
  • Affiliate Program  
  • Content strategy 
  • Promotion strategy  
  • Strategic partnerships 
  • Outreach plan and process improvement 
  • Sales team development 
  • CRM Pipeline management 
  • Coaching and accountability 
  • Scripts for every stage in the sales process 
  • Upsells / Cross sales / Downsells
  • Referral partners for lateral services 
  • Client onboarding plan
  • Client fulfillment process
  • Client retention strategy 
  • Client accession map
  • Client feedback mechanism 
  • Services evolution plan 
  • Research and development plan
Executive & Administrative 
  • Strategic planning 
  • New business development 
  • Financial review 
  • Cashflow management
  • Reporting dashboard
    • operating KPIs
  • Financial
    • Accounting 
    • Budgeting
    • Forecasting
    • Payroll
    • Profit & Loss Statements 
  • People 
    • Recruiting
    • Hiring
    • Firing
    • Training
    • Developing Job Roles & Careers
    • Performance Reviews
    • Leadership development 
    • Team Building/team bonding

Actions that Drive Your oKPIs

Once you have identified your oKPIs, we want to associate those metrics with the behaviors and actions that drive their performance. 

This step is critical as it will help you differentiate and drive future company performance. 

I can’t guarantee your company’s future performance, but I can guarantee this: 

If observed identical companies in the same industry with the same products or services, the difference of their performance will boil down to their habits and how they execute them. 

This is true because this stems from the belief that your habits influence your results. 

There are 3 types of actions your team executes; habits being the cornerstone and foundation to everything. 

With your oKPIs selected, we want to associate them to the habits that will drive their performance. However, you will notice that 1 oKPI can derive many habits. 
Let’s look at the example of Prospects/Leads oKPI. 

In this example, you may be getting leads by the following habits: 
  • Guest podcasting 
  • Pay-per-click ads
  • LinkedIn prospecting 

As mentioned earlier, your company may have around 9-12 oKPIs; however, you may have 1-5 habits per oKPI. 

It’s not about the volume or quantity of your habits but about the alignment that you are executing the essential actions that drive quality results for your oKPI and true long-term company performance. 

Below we have a more detailed example of what habits may correspond to your operating KPIs for a digital services company. Notice how these habits are painstakingly simple. 

For example
  • To increase your sales call show rate, focus on following up with potential clients. 
  • To increase your sales call close rate, follow the sales process
  • To get referrals, ask. 

Remember, focus on the oKPIs that you have complete control over and that makes the largest impact on your business, your client experience, and your overall business goals. 

Ownership of Outcomes

As you list out your oKPIs and their corresponding habits that, if done daily, weekly, or frequently, will produce the desired outcome, we next want to assign an owner to this habit. 
Who on your team is going to own, drive, and be held responsible for this oKPI and executing the habits? 

You can select an owner 2 different ways: 
  1. By function 
  2. By individual

Functional Ownership 

Sometimes specific habits make more sense to be owned by a team rather than just 1 person. 

This may be contrary to most leadership lessons you’ve learned, stating that you need 1 person to hold accountable for an entire team. 

While that is true, it’s important to note that it’s not always the best practice depending on your specific situation and leadership style. 

The major benefit of sharing the responsibility and accountability across an entire team vs an individual is that at the team level if everyone’s held accountable, the team will hold each other accountable since they know their teammates are watching and holding them to a standard. 
For example, your customer success team may have automated net promoter score emails being sent out by your CRM, and if you get a rating of 8 or more, someone from that team calls the client and asks for a referral and testimonial. That team does not control the ratings they get on the NPS (net promoter score) since they don’t run the product or service. However, they do own the number of people they contact per day who rate with an NPS of 8 or more. If the goal in that department is a 100% outreach rate, meaning they reach out to everyone, yet the team is failing at a 75% rate, you can work with the team as a whole to understand why their habit makes a difference, provide support to reaching their 100% outreach rate, and rewarding them for hitting the mark consistently over time. 

Personal Ownership 

It’s pretty common to have individual leaders or managers be held accountable for their oKPI since they help drive and lead the team to the successful execution of the habits that drive performance. 

As you select an individual to hold accountable, it’s essential they know the following: 
  • The oKPI they are being held accountable for
  • What success looks like
  • Why this matters to them, and why this matter for the company 

This puts the onus on you to ensure they have clear expectations, training, and resources to help them execute the habits successfully. 
You want to have buy-in and a sense of true ownership from your lead owning their oKPIs, to a point where it’s a sense of healthy pride that they have this level of responsibility. 

Your Key Levers for Growth

Now that we have an owner driving your company habits forward, we need to give them direction.
What are we aiming to achieve?
In this step of your Core Ops template, you want to set goals for each of your oKPIs. 

As you go through line by line, oKPI by habit, you want to ensure you set realistic yet aggressive goals that your team can hit. 

You can revisit these goals monthly, quarterly, or annually – what matters most here is that your team has a target to hit. 

Since your oKPIs are in line with your business performance, you can identify which oKPIs are higher leverage than others. 

You could say getting more leads is a bigger opportunity for your growth, but what if we found out that by increasing your sales show rate by a few basis points could dramatically impact your bottom line? 

In other words, sending a few follow-up emails could result in hundreds of thousands in new revenue. 

Go through every oKPI and identify the subtle improvements that you can make that can yield substantial returns for you. 

Shared Accountability & Responsibility 

Earlier, we went through how to select an owner to hold responsible and accountable for executing the habits that drive your company’s oKPIs. 

Here is where the expectation meets reality. 

On this section of the Core Ops template, link out to the exact report or dashboard that shows progress and results on the oKPI you are aiming to hit. 

This will allow you to create a regular feedback cadence and review where your team is actually at when it comes to hitting their oKPIs. It also gives you the freedom to get an instant pulse of your company at any given moment. 

With this power, you can optimize and fine-tune your approach by identifying the lower-performing oKPIs and working with your team to develop a plan to turn things around. 

Your company’s success is determined by your team’s behaviors/habits, and now you have the clarity and ease to positively influence your company’s performance. 

However, you will come to realize that how your team works and operates has a dramatic effect on the results your team gets. This leads us to the final step in the Core Ops template. 

Creating Consistency

Your team can focus on the right metrics (oKPIs), do the right habits, and STILL not get the right results. Why? There may be a break in the actual execution of the habit. 

In this section of the Core Ops template, we are going to merge strategy and tactics. This is where the granular pieces are important. 

How you do what you do influences your results.

In a simple metaphor, I could tell 2 similar individuals that they need to do more cardio to cut the last 10 lbs they want to hit their goals. 1 goes off and does a light walk with their dog. The other does the rowing machine exercise keeping their heart rate high for 45 minutes. They both DID cardio, but which performed most effectively to hit their goals?
The same level of thinking applies here to how you execute your habits, the only thing to keep in mind is that we are going to practice these habits consistently over time. 

As you work with your team to document how you’re going perform your habits at the best of their ability, you want to ensure that the execution is aligned with both the aggressive goals you set for each oKPI and long-term thinking. 

Remember your team is running a never ending marathon and the journey matters. 
When you document your habits into a process, I highly encourage you to use the [TEMPLATE] The One Page S.O.P.
To do this effectively, set a meeting with your habit owners and go through for 1-3 hours documenting how you’re going to execute the habit in an excellent fashion and also ensure it is aligned to hit your oKPI goals. 

You can make some serious progress and create true clarity within your team by just taking 1 week to do this. 

S.O.P. Maintenance 

The beauty of this template is that it evolves and grows as you evolve and grow. Therefore you should be prepared to make updates and changes over time. 

Here are my recommendations of the triggers to look out for when making updates to your S.O.P.s and exactly what to update in your One Page S.O.P. in classic IF THEN logic. 

  • New tech updates for your process 
  • New market changes 
  • Updates in your team 
  • Update in your workflow 
  • Update in oKPI goal 
  • The process is not helping reach your oKPI goal
THEN have the process owner update the following: 
  • Evergreen Flow
  • Video Overview 
  • Step By Step 
  • Resources section 
Even if you don’t have these specific triggers occurring, I recommend reviewing your S.O.P.s quarterly or, at the very least, annually. 

Your Core Operations

Now that you have gone through the Core Ops template and filled in each step, you have the essential machine of your business in 1 singular sheet. 

With this 1 sheet, you can: 
  • Identify Which Habits In Your Company Drive Your Business Forward
  • Show Your Team How To Positively Influence Your Company’s Bottom Line 
  • Easily Create Attainable Yet Aggressive Goals On Your Key Levers That Will Influence Your Company’s Health
  • Get An Instant Pulse Of Your Company At Any Given Time
  • Perfect The Most Important Actions In Your Company

And most importantly, you can evolve this sheet as you grow, as you mature as a leader, and as your team grows in their leadership. 

Taking this first step is critical for your long-term success, and I am hopeful that you can leverage this template to continually scale your impact and provide you options in your future.

It’s an honor to be a small part of your journey. 

Do Good Work, 

Know someone that needs to read this? Consider sharing this with them. You may be the catalyst that opens them up to a new way of operating their business and experiencing life. 


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