So What Skills Do You Need to Help get a Start-Up up and Running

skills for an operational pa

Author, Sian Winfield, Founder Of PA&GO

I have had the fortune of assisting with the overall set up of many Start-Ups in my career. I've managed projects from helping Zulily UK grow from a team of just 5 people to a team of 60, to taking a client’s passion for Classic Cars and making it into an online business with a strong team and revenue streams.

The roles of office managers, operations managers and PAs being mixed into one giant role is increasingly becoming the norm in Start-Ups. The opportunity to keep the original core team as lean as possible is appealing to new business owners, and why not? If you get the right person with the right skills this can move your business to exactly where it needs to be without employing multiple people (and reducing the amount of time delegating to multiple parties)!

This of course, is where the original idea for PA&GO stemmed from. Offering all of these services in one hit, plus the added benefit of only procuring the hours you need each month – now that is Start-Up lean for you!

So what does it take to be successful at getting everything up and running? Well, along with sheer grit and determination….

  • Understanding  of the overall business plan/direction and how to take it there – knowing how to assess what needs to be done operationally, mapping it out and implementing it.
  • Previous experience is a must to be able to run with the demands and changes that a Start-Ups brings. You will be given a lot of responsibility to just ‘get things done’ so you will need to have skills in all areas of business.
  • Projects can range from implementing systems and processes in Office Management, Health and Safety, IT, Finances and HR from recruiting to on boarding and keeping the team happy!
  • Don’t forget that you will also be the one helping the senior management team keep their investors/board happy. One of the main priorities in any start-up will be ensuring business growth is meeting their expectations, so while the directors need to focus on the business, you will need to make sure they have what they need when they need it and know what is going on at all times.
  • With a focus on keeping them client / business facing you will need to understand what they have to do and when it needs to get done by and enable them to look good at all times! This means you may need an quick overview and understanding of all areas of the business, from operations to marketing to finance, etc.
  • Essentially you are the ‘go to person’ the absolute lynchpin in moving the company to where it needs to be. The ‘doer’.
  • At this level you should have a trusty black book of contacts who can assist in all areas of operations. From IT companies to HR consultants to a good handyman; all of whom you have worked with before and can get in at a moments notice and more importantly with a good deal!

What core character traits does this role require?

  • Entrepreneurialism - A willingness to take smart and timely risks into the unknown and jump in head first
  • Creativity - Coming up with new ideas without fear of being wrong 
  • Agility – Thinking on your feet and quick reflexes to handle problems when they arise
  • Forward Thinking - Keeping on the pulse of what's happening in your business and in your industry to anticipate problems and spark up solutions
  • Strong prioritisation skills - Knowing how to manage people, tasks and project efficiently and calmly under pressure
  • Comfortable with change – Happy to work towards an ever changing common goal!
  • Confident in your own ability - Being able to speak up, and knowing when to say YES and NO. 

What are the benefits of a role like this? With all this work that you put in, what do you get out of it as an operational assistant?

  • Responsibility – and there is a lot you are accountable for!
  • Making the role your own
  • Knowing you have contributed to something great!
  • Experience that you can take with you moving forward in all areas of your career

With more and more Start-Ups launching all the time, there is a growing demand for finding the very best core team to get everything up and running.

If you thrive in a fast paced, dynamic environment then a role in Start-Up operations is for you! I have to say, having following many journeys in this arena there is nothing like it!