What is a Fractional COO? And Do You Need One for Your Business?

If you’re like most business owners, you’re probably wearing a lot of hats. You’re responsible for marketing, sales, operations, and maybe even finance. It can be tough to manage it all yourself, especially when trying to grow your business. That’s where a fractional COO can help. I interviewed Rachel Beider, CEO of Press Modern Massage, a consultant, and an author of Press Here: Massage for Beginners, to learn more about how a fractional COO can help business owners and whether or not you need one for your business.

What is a Fractional COO?

A Fractional COO is a Chief Operating Officer that works for your company on a part-time or interim basis. They’re there to offer you guidance, expertise, and executive-level leadership to assist you in avoiding roadblocks in your business model and ensure that you’re on the right strategic and operational path for maximum development.

Fractional COOs provide various services at a fraction of the cost of a full-time COO, making them an appealing success tool for small and medium-sized businesses and organizations just getting started without the cash for a full-time COO.

The Fractional COO model is becoming increasingly popular as businesses look for ways to do more with less.

What does a Fractional COO do?

The fractional COO’s duties vary based on the company’s demands, the CEO’s skillset, and the fractional COO’s skill set. There are a lot of tasks that a fractional COO can handle in numerous areas. The sole responsibility of a fractional COO is to run the firm better than it did when they joined it and to handle all operational issues to relieve you of duties and allow you to concentrate on your long-term business goals.

In general, though, these are some of the focus areas most COOs come to handle;

  • Strategic Planning: Assists the CEO in long-term strategic planning by focusing on the company’s mission, vision, values, and goals. Long-term and short-term planning are two different things. They also have the knowledge and connections to see their initiatives through.
  • Operational development and management: This might be anything from enhancing and reshaping the company’s operational core to identifying opportunities and risks. Creating long-term viable systems and processes, such as standard operating procedures, organizational restructuring of back end and front end systems, policy and procedure creation, and introducing new technology when necessary are all a part of operational development.
  • Organizational development and management: Assists in developing and leading a sustainable culture and environment that enables the company’s growth. Consider hiring, communication, team management, and leadership areas to address.
  • Project management and planning: Overseeing company projects that have been determined through strategic planning. They ensure that the project is proceeding as planned, that stakeholders are all on the same page, and that the project is progressing as it should. The fractional COO may completely manage or simply oversee projects with project managers depending on the business’s size and the project.
  • KPIs and metric reporting: Reports on and improves key indicators to ensure and evaluate efficiency within the company. Consider sales forecasting, website, and social media traffic, data, client retention, and other vital metrics.

When should a Business Hire a Fractional COO?

Most business owners or CEOs wear many hats. They are responsible for the growth and profitability of the company, managing people and teams, developing new products or services, and ensuring smooth operations. But there comes a time when a business reaches a certain level of success that it becomes difficult for one person to manage everything effectively. This is when a fractional COO can be extremely valuable.

This is precisely why fractional COOs exist – to provide an extra set of experienced hands-on-deck without the full-time commitment or cost. Fractional COOs can be brought in for as little as a few hours a week or month, and they can help with anything from developing growth strategies to streamlining processes to hiring and firing employees.

This is true with Rachel. Her business had grown from having one room to nine rooms and more massage therapists, followed by exponential growth to open another branch in a different location with eight rooms. She was excited to take on new challenges; however, she quickly realized that managing two spaces was more than she could handle. She was handling everything herself, from hiring staff to training staff to managing the books. She quickly realized she needed help and brought on a fractional COO to take on some of the operational tasks, freeing her up to focus on what she does best – expanding the business.

The following are some signs that a small business might require a fractional COO. If you can relate to any of these, it might be time to start looking for a Fractional COO for your business:

You’re spending more time managing than improving

When you’re spending all of your time ensuring everything is running efficiently, you’ll have less time to develop new methods for pushing your company forward. If you’re so busy keeping your company afloat that you don’t have time to think about where it’s going or how you can help it get there, consider hiring a COO. A Fractional COO can take charge of the day-to-day operations of your business, giving you more time to focus on the big picture.

You’re expanding rapidly

If your business is growing quickly, it can be challenging to keep up with the demand. A Fractional COO can help you manage this growth by developing systems and processes that can scale with your business. They can also help you manage your finances and human resources, so you can focus on other aspects of running your business.

You don’t have time to plan for the future

 

When you’re too busy putting out fires, it’s hard to find time to think about where you want your business to be in five years. A Fractional COO can help you develop a long-term plan for your business, so you can focus on the present without sacrificing your future.

Your CEO is overwhelmed

If your CEO is trying to do too many things, it can be difficult for them to focus on the most critical aspects of running your business. A Fractional COO can help take some of the pressure off by handling day-to-day operations, so your CEO can focus on more strategic tasks.

You want to strengthen your company’s leadership

If you want to build a strong leadership team, a Fractional COO can help you identify the most qualified candidates and develop a succession plan. They can also help you implement training and development programs to prepare your leaders for the future. For instance, how Rachel was assisted by her COO in implementing Homebase, a small business tool for managing employee scheduling, time tracking, and communication.

You need someone to execute ideas

If you have a lot of great ideas but don’t have the time or resources to execute them, a Fractional COO can help. They can develop and implement systems and processes to help you get the most out of your ideas.

The Good News

So what’s the good news? Fractional COOs can be an incredible asset to a business. They can provide much-needed structure and support, freeing the CEO to focus on strategic initiatives and long-term growth.

In addition, a Fractional COO can bring a fresh perspective to the table, providing outside insights and ideas that can help take your business to the next level.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations of your business, or if you’re simply looking for ways to take your company to the next level, a Fractional COO may be just what you need.

 

Is Your Business Ready For A Fractional CFO? How To Decide If It’s The Right Move For You

If you’re a business owner, then you know that there are a lot of moving parts that go into making your company successful. From sales and marketing to operations and finance, keeping track of everything can be challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with all aspects of running a business.

That’s where a fractional CFO comes in. Fractional CFOs are experts in financial management, and they can help your business make the most of its money. From my interview with Nelson Tepfer, the managing partner at ProCFO Partners, which provides fractional CFOs across New York state and Chicago, I have compiled the following on what fractional CFOs are and how they can help your business grow. I’ll also give you tips on deciding if hiring a fractional CFO is the right move for you.

What is a Fractional CFO?

A Fractional CFO is a Chief Financial Officer who works part-time, usually for small to mid-sized businesses. This type of CFO can be an excellent option for companies that can’t afford a full-time CFO or only need someone to handle financial matters part-time.

The CFO is the strategic and managerial head of finance, and they can be critical allies for founders without a financial background. The CFO can set and review financial key performance indicators (KPIs), implement best practices, create budgets and forecasts, and assist the board and potential investors in understanding the company’s financial status.

Many startups are unable to afford a full-time CFO. An outsourced CFO service might assist you in understanding your company’s finances, producing customized forecasts, or formulating a fundraising approach for a short or one-time engagement.

What is the Difference Between a Fractional CFO and an Interim CFO?

According to Nelson Tepfer, a temporary CFO differs from a fractional CFO (part-time CFO) because the interim job is short-term. An interim CFO fulfills an area between a company losing its full-time CFO and filling the vacant position. A fractional CFOs’ services are continual, but their weekly hours are limited to part-time.

Fractional CFOs are often considered more strategic, while Interim CFOs are more operational. Fractional CFOs work with a company to help them grow and scale, whereas Interim CFOs help to keep the company running smoothly on a day-to-day basis.

Another key difference is that Fractional CFOs are usually brought in when a company is doing well and looking to take things to the next level. In contrast, Interim CFOs are typically brought in during times of crisis or transition.

What does a fractional CFO do for Growing Businesses?

A fractional CFO is a crucial functionary who serves many responsibilities in a business, including:

Ensure a Proper Financial Foundation is in Place

As a company grows, its financial processes grow increasingly complicated for the founders to manage. They need someone who can see the whole picture through the nuts and bolts of financial reporting and accounting to maintain their economic health.

This is where a fractional CFO comes in to clear a path through the web of numbers and statistics.

Nelson shares that “as the lifeblood of every small business, cash flow can be a big issue. Small businesses may struggle with getting funding, building their company strategy, and figuring out why their profit margins are shrinking. These are all symptoms of bigger problems that a fractional CFO can help with. A fractional CFO brings experience and expertise to recognize symptoms and build a financial function that will support the business’s goals. This can help small businesses get back on track and be successful.”

A fractional CFO is vital for small businesses, as they provide the financial stability and foresight required to maintain a company’s health and growth.

Help Manage Growth

One of the main benefits of having a fractional CFO on your team is that they can help manage growth. If you’re seeing consistent growth in your business, it’s essential to have someone on your team who knows how to handle that growth and ensure it’s sustainable. A fractional CFO can help you do just that.

For instance, when looking at a potential acquisition, it’s essential to look at more than just the numbers on paper. It would be best to consider how the company would fit with your existing business. Would the acquisition help you to achieve economies of scale? Would it give you access to new markets or technology? What would be the impact on your existing employees? These are all important factors to consider before making an offer. Of course, you also need to ensure that the company is a good financial fit for your business. But by taking a holistic view of the acquisition, you can avoid making a mistake that could cost your business dearly in the long run. 

These are the considerations a Fractional CFO can bring to the table to ensure that you make the best decision for your business.

Implement Systems and Controls

When businesses grow, they must create more effective procedures to address their fluctuating needs. This necessitates the oversight and direction of someone who has implemented numerous systems in various situations. Someone who’s seen it all can anticipate what might go wrong and how to address it before it happens. A fractional CFO may draw on their experience to guarantee that the business is always moving forward, even when changes occur.

For example, there was a company whose invoicing process was inefficient. It would often take them four to six weeks to send out an invoice after completing a project. Nelson recognized this was a legacy issue from when the company was much smaller. At that time, a single person was responsible for a checklist of six items that needed to be completed before an invoice could be sent out. As the company grew, those six items became the responsibility of six different people or teams. However, no one took the time to reassess whether this was still the most efficient way to do things. As a result, being a fractional CFO, Nelson helped them implement systems to streamline their process so that invoices could be sent out within five days. This helped improve their efficiency and better meet the needs of their clients.

To Sum Up

A fractional CFO is a financial expert with an extensive background in many areas who works part-time and relieves startups of high expenses. Hiring a fractional CFO is the only way for a young business to gain access to best-in-industry knowledge without having to pay through the nose for it.

It’s a win-win situation like all great business models.

Of course, once startups grow large enough, they may find that having a full-time CFO makes good business sense. Those who are still learning the ropes, on the other hand, should think about employing a fractional CFO at any time.

 

Why Fractional Leadership Works

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Now that we’ve introduced each of the Fractional Leader (FL) roles with a high-level overview, what does it mean for your business to have an experienced leader swoop in when you’re stuck and guide you to your destination? A strong leader who has “been there and done that” knows what to do and how to inspire your troops to charge.

The biggest reason Fractional Leadership works is you’re bringing someone on your side who’s already gotten past the point where you’re stuck — and they’ve usually done so multiple times. They shortcut you around bottlenecks and obstacles so you can break through and go way beyond where you could on your own.

Sometimes the best way to illustrate something is to go to those who have been there done that, so I spoke with many small business owners about Fractional Leadership. Here are but a few brief examples that I discuss in length in my book.

Wil Schroter, founder and CEO of Startups.com, the world’s largest startup launch platform and cohost of the Startup Therapy Podcast, explains that in the startup world, Fractional Leadership “is just called hiring.”

There’s no way I could possibly afford the kind of Chief Operating Officer or Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) I need. I bring them on in exchange for maybe a quarter point of equity because early equity is the only kind of currency I have at that point. And the truth is that I don’t need that CMO to run my pay-per-click anyway. I can find someone on fiverr to do the grunt work. What I need is for her to tell me what’s around every corner, which company I need a partnership with, and “By the way, here are the contacts you need to talk to.” She’ll send an email that will take 15 minutes of her time and save me a year of my time. That guidance and those relationships are worth their weight in gold.

Kwame Christian, Esq., Director of the American Negotiation Institute and author of Finding Confidence in Conflict, told me that he uses a Fractional Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in his company because it allows him to bring extensive experience and an objective perspective into his business but without the full-time cost:

My Fractional CFO manages the entire financial side of our business. He has that high-level expertise, but we don’t need to pay for full-time.

His benefit is also objectivity. I think it’s easier to be more objective about the company when you have a little bit of separation. My background is in psychology, and I do some implicit bias training from time-to-time because bias is just a natural state of the human mind. I have preconceived notions about my own business. So I tell him, “Listen, I’m biased. This is the way I’m seeing it, but I’m probably missing something. What am I missing?” He can see things a lot more objectively. It’s been really helpful to have that outside influence.

The bottom line for most considering a FL is that they need a leader in the fractional role. For people who are used to having to figure everything out for themselves, hiring a Fractional Leader can almost feel like cheating. They worry they’re doing something wrong by bypassing the obstacles and skipping straight to effective (though often not easy) solutions. Although this feeling is natural, it causes them unnecessary pain and makes their progress toward their own dreams much longer and harder than it has to be.

Leader, Not Worker Bee

Tactical, frontline-type work is a distraction from a Fractional Leader’s main value proposition. Fractional Chief Sales Officers (FCSOs), for example, generally do not make their own sales. Fractional COOs do not personally lead highly technical system rollouts. And FCFOs do not personally do your bookkeeping, A/P, and payroll. Instead, FLs set up systems and processes that cause the people in your organization to do their jobs far more effectively than before. They then train and oversee those teams. This ultimately gets you far more results than one person, even one who is very skilled, can accomplish on their own. The power of FLs is their experience and ability to focus your organization’s resources on your priorities.

You probably built your business by being a “doer” who gets as much accomplished as is humanly possible. Your leadership team always did the same. The problem is, as the saying goes, “What got you here isn’t going to get you there.” Even though the “all hands on deck,” “get ’er done” culture got you past the critically dangerous startup phase, you’ve now reached the stage in your business where that does not work anymore. Isn’t that why you’re frustrated and reading about Fractional Leadership in the first place?

Get Focused on the Right Things

Whether you use an FCSO to focus your sales process and message on what resonates with your target market, an FCFO to make the right decisions based on financial experience, analysis, and data, or a Fractional Chief Technology Officer (FCTO) to build and iterate the right product, focus is key. Because FLs have seen what works and know how to drive implementation, people use them to focus their limited resources on the right things for maximum impact and scalability.


The information herein is a partial excerpt from my book, Fractional Leadership, which  is a consolidation of my personal experience as a Fractional Leader (FL), retaining other FLs in businesses I managed or manage, interviews with FLs on my podcast, Win-Win—An Entrepreneurial Community, and my network and relationships with other FLs.

My experience in operations and being a Fractional Leader in companies running on EOS certainly contribute to my knowledge of operations. I am not, however, a subject matter expert in marketing, sales, finance, or technology. I’ve written these topics with reliance on business owners and FLs in those fields — from a 30,000-foot perspective.

Check out my blogs discussing the five main types of FLs: Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (FCMO), Fractional Chief Sales Officer (FCSO), Fractional Chief Operating Officer (FCOO),  Fractional Chief Technology Officer (FCTO) and Fractional Chief Financial Officer (FCFO).

The First 90 Days With a Fractional Integrator

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Picture this: Business is humming. Future goals are clear. The team is working together. Ninety days ago, this wasn’t the case. Ninety days ago, the business was floundering. The Visionary was beyond frustrated, and the team wasn’t achieving traction.

Enter the Fractional Integrator (FI). The Fractional Integrator (a Fractional Leader experienced in EOS®, focusing on operations) might be engaged short-term, supporting an existing Integrator or a newly hired full-time Integrator as they transition into their second-in-command role. Other times, the Fractional Integrator is a long-term partner to leaders seeking an experienced operations executive as the business elevates to the next level.

Getting Into Alignment With Your Fractional Integrator

Vetting of a Fractional Integrator includes discussions about expectations, desired outcomes, vision alignment, and open and honest communication around the business’s current challenges. Once a match is made, the Fractional Integrator gets to work laying the foundation and building a cohesive team structure.

A Fractional Integrator brings a wealth of knowledge and the discipline and drive to lead, manage, and hold the team accountable, including the Visionary! If assistance in rolling out and supporting the EOS® structure and related tools and processes is needed, the Fractional Integrator can provide that support to ensure team-wide system adaptation.

The First 90 Days

The first 90 days include crystallizing the EOS® Vision Traction/Organizer (V/TO), developing a plan and dialing in the operating system company-wide. The Fractional Integrator is on board to help the wheels turn faster and more effectively, with the full effort of all team members. If team members whose skills would best be used elsewhere are identified, the Fractional Integrator supports the leadership team and Human Resources with smooth transitions and aligning the right people for the right seats.

During the initial 30 days, the business benefits from an experienced, third-party, unbiased viewpoint to grow and transform the business. The Fractional Integrator is laser-focused on bringing consistency, structure, process, and improved communication to the team. A regular meeting cadence and streamlined internal messaging are honed, and the structuring of an accountability chart that best serves the business’s goals is completed.

Days 30 to 90 are then used to support the team through modeling, mentoring, and leadership, ensuring everyone is rowing together in the same direction. Effective meetings, regular check-ins, and accountability are the goals during this time. Process development is introduced, and core processes are reviewed and aligned. The Fractional Integrator continually brings the Visionary and team members back to the focus areas of the V/TO as the guiding principles for all business actions and decisions.

What Happens Next: Living Your Ideal Life

Many clients continue working in tandem with a Fractional Integrator well beyond the 90-day mark. However, if budget or the hiring of a full-time Integrator dictates the conclusion of the working relationship with a Fractional Integrator, ensure that in those 90 days they have met all expectations and objectives.

For businesses with a full-time Integrator, the Fractional Integrators’ goal is to support, mentor, guide and model for the in-house Integrator. A typical Integrator mentoring program consists of a targeted set of milestones providing the Integrator with the skills, understanding, and tools to actively engage and succeed in the second-in-command role.

Ultimately, the success of a Fractional Integrator’s work is measured by a team who has acquired new skills, is open, brutally yet kindly honest, and manages their time and energy with a focus on the highest and best priorities. The successful team leads, manages, and holds their colleagues accountable. An abundance mindset is practiced, and the vision for the business is crystal clear and followed by all. The business’ future is bright and predictable, providing the Visionary and the team the freedom and confidence to live their ideal lives.

The referenced term “Integrator” comes from the book Traction, by Gino Wickman, based on the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®).

About the Author

Jamie Munoz is the founder and Visionary of a team of Fractional Integrators at Catalyst Integrators, helping busy Visionaries and entrepreneurs maximize their potential by running companies on EOS. Jamie is also a certified John Maxwell Team coach, speaker and trainer. Contact Jamie here.

How to Win Complex B2B Sales

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You might be of the belief that winning complex B2B sales is impossible for the average salesperson and that it’s all about having a great product and a stellar sales team. But you’d be wrong. It’s all about your process and the unique way you approach selling.

See, there’s this little-known thing called the Winning Complex Sales (WCS) process. Hardly anybody is talking about it. But when you learn it and use it, you’ll see a huge difference in your sales cycle and how quickly you can go from deals worth thousands to those worth millions in a short period of time.

I’m about to reveal the exact formula and step-by-step system for winning more complex B2B sales in less time.

Win More Complex B2B Sales in Less Time

While a multi-million-dollar contract can keep a firm flush with revenue for years, most salespeople lack the skill to pursue large prospective deals. They tend to think transactionally, so they need to be coached on the preparation, strategy and tactics — and this is best accomplished with a WCS process.

Step 1: Prep, which means:

  1. Map out the org chart of the target company.
  2. Understand your product inside and out.
  3. Know how to articulate your value proposition and explain why the customer needs your product.
  4. Select the top prospects that offer the biggest potential return on time and money spent.
  5. Research each target firm (annual statements, news articles, social posts, etc.) to uncover their mission, areas of growth, and challenges.
  6. Identify the players in each firm who contribute to the buying decision and how their buying process works. This is where the map in step a comes into play. You might need a “coach” or insider, as described further below, to help figure this out.

Now, that all seems like a lot of work before you even contact the prospect, and that’s the point! You want to focus on the best deals and do your homework rather than wing it on a bunch of long shots.

In truth, the WCS prep work process saves a lot of time in the long run. Few sales organizations do it thoroughly, despite it being one of two steps that lead to success in winning complex sales.

What’s the second step?

Step 2: Connect and engage properly.

Many salespeople are “professional visitors.” Not diggers, hustlers, closers. They stop by with donuts or whatever every once in a while. A sales team using the WCS framework does more focused work.

Once the target’s org board is mapped out, each important player is labeled per their role:

ENDORSER: The big kahuna decision-maker who MUST sign off on the deal. Usually, an exec but sometimes a team.

DECIDER: Most often, this is someone who directly manages the area where your product will be deployed. They buy to solve the problem for their area of responsibility and make the final call before presenting to the ENDORSER.

ASSESSOR: Someone with whom the buyer “checks in” to get their opinion on your proposal. This can be a finance person, someone with deep technical knowledge, or a lower-level manager.

USER: These employees benefit directly from your product. They are sometimes ASSESSORS since they will use the solution in their day-to-day work and provide valuable feedback on what is truly needed.

COACH: This role can be internal or external (such as a Fractional Leader), and can be considered your biggest supporter. They give you the inside scoop on who the decision-makers are, current needs and problems and might even grease the tracks for you to get the first meeting. The coach must be nurtured to help you dive deep into the other roles and understand the demographics and psychographics of the business.

The team then gets busy engaging with the key players in a focused way. The methodology is to hone in on the issues the prospect company cares about as uncovered in prep and with the coach’s help.

It’s here where a good CRM platform comes into play, as each contact needs to be recorded so the whole team stays informed, and the next steps are appropriately planned. Outreach methods include cold calls, emails, drip letter campaigns, networking, lunches, etc. And if you bring donuts, as I joked about earlier, make sure you engage with one of the key roles each time, as described above.

Communicating to these various roles without the research in Step 1 wastes an enormous amount of time as you have no idea what the buttons are. And most times, you only have ONE SHOT.

To Sum Up: Why a Winning Complex Sales Process Is Critical

To circle back to the beginning of this post — the average salesperson is NOT able to win complex B2B sales without a solid WCS process in place. Mapping and nurturing are the key to FOCUS and INFLUENCE. At Volohaus, we help firms set this all up and execute.

Would your firm benefit from a great WCS? How could it change your company and its revenue if you put one in place this month? If you’d like to discuss this further, please feel free to reach out to us at volohaus.com.

About the Author

Shaun Alger is Practice Manager at revenue growth firm VoloHaus. To learn more about how VoloHaus can help you accelerate your company’s growth, contact Shaun at 760-815-4464 or shaun@volohaus.com.

Jumpstart Your Business Growth With a Fractional COO

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“I dream things that never were, and I say ‘Why not?'” — George Bernard Shaw

As an entrepreneur, you leapt headlong into your venture without all the answers, confident you’d figure out what you need to know along the way. Wearing many hats and spinning lots of plates, you inspired others to join you, and, together, you grew. Now your business has hit an impasse or plateau. You know what got you here isn’t going to get you where you want to go. But you’ve maxed out your capacity and don’t have the in-house knowledge, skills, experience, or perspective to do what’s necessary to take things to the next level.

If this sounds like you, congratulations! You’ve already built a viable small business. What’s more, you may be just one key hire away from jumpstarting your next phase of breakthrough growth.

Why a Fractional Leader?

With the fractional model, you gain access to a higher level of executive leadership whose talent and experience would otherwise be unavailable to you. Fractional leaders aren’t cheap, but they can be affordable to a small business or cash-strapped startup because they work only part-time for each client and typically don’t require benefits or equity.

In essence, you’re “renting” a fractional executive for a period of time to help your business grow to the next level. Once your fractional executive has accomplished that goal for you, they’re usually happy to help you find, hire, and groom their full-time replacement, if necessary. Then they move on to their next growth challenge — generally what excites them most.

You may be wondering: With so much to do, how can a fractional executive possibly transform my business if they’re not working full time? The short answer is it depends on how you use them. If you’re looking for someone to take mundane tasks off your plate, you’re unlikely to achieve the level of growth you’re seeking.

But if you let them focus primarily on growing the business, an experienced fractional exec can get the job done much faster, more effectively, and with far less risk than a first-timer. One way to think of it: hiring a fractional executive is like plugging your business into a higher voltage battery. While you may not need to use all the battery’s power to run your company just yet, the engine that will drive your business’s growth won’t even start without it.

Why Start With a Fractional COO?

Today, you can hire all kinds of fractional executives — CMOs, CFOs, CHROs, etc. Many founders/CEOs build whole teams of fractional executives to grow their businesses. However, if you’re considering your first fractional hire, and you need help growing your business more or less across the board, you may be best off starting with a fractional chief operating officer (COO).

Why? While the function of a COO varies from business to business, the scope of a true COO’s responsibility is the entire organization, not just a single business function. They must take a holistic view of the business and understand how it all works together as a dynamic system — made up of interconnected functions, processes, inputs and outputs — itself part of an even larger system, for example, the marketplace.

In addition, a fractional COO often has deep hands-on experience in most, if not all, aspects of a business — sales, marketing, product development, finance, technology, HR, customer service. They not only understand the system as a whole but also have at least working knowledge of the different subsystems and how they all relate to each other and the whole.

To use a medical analogy, one of the functions of a good COO is to serve as a sort of trusted primary care physician who can evaluate the health of your entire business, make accurate diagnoses, prescribe the right treatments or cures, and refer you to specialists as necessary.

To carry the analogy further, they must also have an excellent bedside manner, knowing how to communicate effectively with all different types of employees, across all functions and contexts, 360 degrees, as well as customers, vendors, partners, investors, and so on.

Executing for Business Growth

However, the “doctor” analogy stops there. A fractional COO isn’t a mere consultant who spends the metaphorical equivalent of 15 minutes examining your business, writes you a prescription, and then beats a hasty retreat. No, a fractional COO works in your business as well as on your business, moving fluidly from analysis, strategy, and planning to execution; driving progress each week; holding people accountable for results; testing, measuring, learning, and — if they’re doing their job — continuously improving performance and growing your top and bottom lines.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”

A great fractional COO will take your vision and run with it, in the process making your long-sought business dream a present-day reality. You can learn more about the benefits of fractional leadership here.

About the Author

Mark Scrimenti is a Fractional COO and Fractional Integrator for businesses running on EOS. He has 15-plus years of leadership experience in e-commerce, digital product development, sales, marketing, and customer experience. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn or visit his website at vividpathconsulting.com if you’re ready to jumpstart your own business’s growth.

Mergers and Acquisitions — Selling Your Small Business

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Your fiercest competitor has just submitted a letter of intent to acquire your business. How do you respond? Is the offer a good one? Is it the right time to sell? What are customary terms and deal processes? If you’re like approximately 90 percent of business owners out there, you’ve never been involved with the sale of a business (particularly your own). You would likely have a host of questions similar to these.

Business sale or sell-side mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions are “unique beasts,” and the stakes are too high to go it alone or enter the fray without the proper advisors.

If you’re prudent and well prepared for a sale, you can avoid the mistakes that befall many an unsuspecting seller. These can include an outsized strain on your day-to-day operations, suboptimal deal terms and value (i.e., lower sales price and unattractive terms), and an inefficient deal process. Remember that it is critical to communicate — whether orally, in writing, or through the sharing of company information — with intention and that “time kills deals.”

Hiring a Fractional Leader Can Optimize Your Business for Sale

Working with experienced fractional leadership (CMO, CSO, COO, etc.) months or years ahead of a prospective transaction — whether vaguely conceptual or immediately actionable — can supplement your core team. Domain experts can supercharge your operations and optimize the value and attractiveness of your business.

Additionally, a Fractional CFO experienced in M&A can provide transaction-related guidance alongside ongoing strategic financial oversight. When the time comes to “go to market” (proactively pursue a sales process) or respond to the unsolicited acquisition offer, you’ll have experienced advisors on hand. And you will be prepared with financial results and operating data tailored to your audience of third-party investors and acquirers.

Regardless of whether a transaction is ultimately pursued or consummated, by going through the process, you’ll likely have received outsized value in the form of a more sustainably profitable and well-run business.

About the Author

Landon Mizuguchi has over 15 years of experience encompassing M&A, general management, corporate finance, and valuation, with preeminent professional services firms such as Goldman, Sachs & Co. and EY (formerly Ernst & Young). As principal of Malama Capital Advisory, he provides Fractional CFO and M&A advisory services to West Coast-based SMBs and hyper-growth startups. Contact Landon here.

Your Business and the Power of Process

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As founder and fractional chief operations officer (COO) of Meta Viable Solutions, I have realized the Power of Process and how it can benefit businesses regardless of size. Process is integral in building a strong business from the ground up. It allows you to provide efficient business models that will help your business produce, grow, scale and profit.

Process also allows you to pivot and tweak your business, when necessary, as all systems don’t work all the time. As a leader and visionary in your company, process allows you to execute your great ideas into tactical, approachable steps to reach high-level goals.

A Business Path to Better Precision and Perspective

The 4P Model for a Business Path to better Precision and Perspective allows business objectives to be realistic and manageable. This model helps with effectiveness and efficiency when managing your team and avoiding employee burnout. It infuses your company with productivity, motivation, ingenuity and progress.

Meta Viable 4P Venn Diagram

 

The 4P Model consists of Planning, People, Process and Projects.  These four elements are all interrelated and must work together for you to be successful. You can’t have new systems and technologies without people.

There needs to be planning, process integration, training and special initiatives or projects to get ideas and plans off the ground. One can’t exist without the other.

  1. Planning is key before embarking on a new initiative. We often refer to this stage as strategic planning. It allows you to put the required people, budgeted finances, and time in place
  2. People are one of your most valuable resources. You will need people both internal and external to your company to achieve your goals. What roles and expertise do you need to accomplish your business goal or project?
  3. Process is needed to integrate different business functions, experts, systems and operations in your company, so they are working well together. How will you get to where you are going? You will need to ensure everyone is working together and the right communication processes and workflows are implemented.
  4. Projects are a means to the end goal if they are planned, managed and executed well. Your company may have several business initiatives occurring simultaneously. How do you prioritize, track and manage them? Projects allow a way to assign responsibility to team members, evaluate goals and identify special projects to focus on initiatives that drive you toward professional growth and business goals.

Delegating people internally or hiring a team, consultant or Project Management Professional (PMP) can help create manageable and practical projects to reach your business goals.

Successful Businesses Realize What Process Can Do for Them

Let’s take a minute to focus on number three, PROCESS.

The EOS Traction method recommends that all you need is 80 percent of your six core processes documented at 20 percent. It suggests that every company has at least six core processes: Human Resources, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Accounting and Customer Retention.

Well-documented and communicated processes are invaluable and beneficial to your company. Whether you are a one-person business or a 250-employee company, you have processes within your company. You have a method and technique you have developed to work internally and externally with others. These “processes” may be documented, or they may be in your head.

The question is, are they effective, and is everyone working off your built-in processes?

Effective processes save you time, money, and resources in the short and long term.

Four Benefits of Establishing Processes

  1. Clear processes create a clear direction for your employees, customers and strategic partners. It develops transparency and sets expectations of how policies, procedures and tasks are to be performed. Everyone involved understands how matters will be handled before proceeding with a task. Process mapping, documentation and training are best practice tools to communicate your processes to all those involved internally and externally.
  2. Process ensures better quality assurance. Having clear processes allows for more consistency and less variance in errors. It allows for productivity and efficiency. Process helps your employees understand their role in the larger context of the company and better meet company standards. Additionally, customers can expect a certain positive level of customer experience when it comes to customer care. Process allows similar quality standards, so your team is accountable, responsive, and meeting a certain standard with your product, service and professionalism.
  3. Process allows you to build systems and capacity. It is a foundational element (a part of the 4 P model) to integrate different functions and people within the company. It allows for consistency across multi-sites and helps you expand your business once you develop a successful, efficient process model (one that works for you and your customers).
  4. Process saves you time and money. Everyone is on the same page and understands how things are done, avoiding the loss in time and “figuring things out.” You will experience higher employee and customer satisfaction and better external strategic partnerships with established processes. Process allows you to be resourceful and less prone to liabilities.

Oftentimes, business owners and leadership feel lost and overwhelmed when starting or pivoting a business. Consider Fractional Leadership. Hiring a Fractional Leader can help bring your team and business forward.

If you found these concepts helpful and would like a deeper dive into strategic, practical tips and an easy-to-follow guide on building a stronger foundation for your business, pick up a copy of my book, Striking Business Gold: Build, Scale, Profit for Success.

About the Author

Sasha Lalite, MPA, PMP, is the owner and Fractional Chief Operations Officer of Meta Viable Solutions LLC. As a Fractional COO & Strategic Operations Advisor, Sasha provides expertise to businesses on an outsourced, part-time, or project basis. Connect with Sasha here. She can also be reached at sasha@metaviablesolutions.com or 347-470-7901.

 

3 Steps CEOs Can Take Now to Get Back to the Work They Love

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As a CEO or small business owner, you may find yourself wearing many different hats from time to time.

I worked with a home services business owner who hired a team of people at varying levels to support his marketing, sales, finance, and operations. However, he was even busier than before he hired them, working late every night and on the weekend. This happened because he had not yet come to trust his team. A big reason for not entirely relying on them was because so much of how he wanted his business run was still in his head. He felt like he needed to be involved in each step of the process to make sure it was executed correctly.

Now back to you. You are the CEO for a reason. You can see the big picture and know where action needs to be taken. However, sometimes this means you end up in the weeds. Perhaps you find yourself spending hours working on marketing materials, or you blew half a day managing your sales team.

If you ever get the chance to come up for air, you could take a step back and see that this is not the best use of your time and expertise. But how do you manage this?

Here are three steps that you can take right away to make a difference.

Leverage CRM and Automation Technology

First of all, properly leveraging technology is one great way to streamline processes and take the workload off yourself. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and marketing automation are two great tools to increase sales and save time. There are a lot of questions you need to ask when selecting a CRM. Check out these eight considerations you should keep in mind. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • It doesn’t track the information you need
  • The team doesn’t have the time to learn something new
  • It doesn’t match your process
  • Salespeople prefer tracking on spreadsheets
  • It’s just for data storage
  • You’ve been working OK with it for years
  • It’s too cumbersome

When selecting a CRM, ensure that it provides your team with a unified, integral platform and that your team is fully trained on and vested in the product.

Consider Delegating to a Fractional Leader

Next up, delegate. Sure this sounds simple enough, but do you have someone you can trust to do the job, right? As a CEO, you need people who work with you, not just for you. If you look around and don’t have the right person on your team, consider hiring a fractional leader. By hiring an experienced professional to be part of your leadership team, they can collaborate, lead and drive execution around a specific core function of your business.

Develop and Implement a Sales Process

Finally, develop a sales process and enforce it at all levels, including lead generation and tracking. This is a big one — it will take the time you likely do not think you have to put in place. However, in the end, it will make all the difference for you, probably giving you back weeks of your time every year. Who doesn’t want a couple of free weeks, so you don’t feel obligated to work on vacation?

What happened to our busy business owner?

After bringing in a fractional chief operating officer, or COO, and a fractional chief sales and marketing officer, or CSMO, our business owner was able to get all of his processes documented by his team so that they understood and followed them. Plus, he and his team began leveraging the technology and framework the fractional leaders put in place. His home services business grew since he could focus on the big picture again and even take some time off to celebrate his accomplishments with his wife and children!

Follow the three steps above, and you too can go back to doing what you love to do and not what you feel obligated to do.

About the Author

Kristen Diviney McGarr, the co-founder/CEO of Infinite Insights and founder/fractional CSMO of Adroit Insights, has more than 15 years of experience as a sales management and business executive for small businesses and Franchise 500 companies. Learn more about Kristen here.