No sane personal turns off their headlines and attempts to drive down a road at night.

Cars have headlights for a reason:  to illuminate what’s ahead and help you get where you are going.  Mirrors and gauges serve similar purposes.

Businesses are no different. You need tools to help you understand how you’ve done, the health of the business, and what lies ahead.

Extending the analogy, mirrors are like financial and other reports that tell you where you’ve been.  They are backward looking.

Your speedometer, tachometer, temperature, and fuel gauges tell you about the current operating condition of your vehicle much like production numbers, quality control info, customer service data, and other KPIs tell you if your business is operating as expected.

And your sales pipeline, financial forecasts, and other leading indicators give you an idea of what’s ahead, just like headlights on a car or traffic warnings from your navigation system.

It is critically important that you have a set of metrics – financial and operational – to really understand the state of your business.   If you don’t, you are driving blind.

I’ve spoken with too many business executives who believe that as long as they can pay their bills, have some money left over, and production is getting product out the door that their business is doing fine.  Perhaps it is.   But maybe they don’t see warning signs of troubles ahead because they aren’t looking at the right gauges.  Trouble could be around the corner.

Hemingway says it best in The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

Don’t let your business slowly steer off course and force you to suddenly deal with simmering issues that may have been prevented or corrected if you had only known.  Make sure you are using the right metrics to understand your business and not driving blind.

If a fractional COO can help you with your metrics, CONTACT US or reach us at http://linkedin.com/in/cmatt.

Have you ever found yourself with thoughts like “my revenues are up but I don’t feel like I’m getting ahead” or “I need someone to run this project”?   Situations like these are examples of how COOs can help small businesses and start-ups, but many owners and founders don’t realize it.  A small business benefits from engaging a fractional COO.

COOs aren’t just for large businesses

Large complex businesses aren’t the only ones that need COOs.  Small businesses and even start-ups benefit from engaging a fractional COO.

Small businesses may think that they can’t afford a COO.  It’s true that a small business may not be able to justify the expense of a full-time COO.  They still need the experience and focus on operations that a COO brings.  The fractional model makes the COO expertise available to smaller organizations by using a cost-effective part-time model.

It isn’t uncommon for one of the founders or the CEO to the fill both the roles of CEO and COO.  When starting out and resources are limited, that may be the best option.  The roles are different, however.  The CEO focuses on growing the business, casting vision, building culture, and fostering relationships.  COOs focus on day-to-day operations.  They ensure that teams work well together, remove roadblocks, and deal with details. It is rare to find individual that both excels at and enjoys performing both roles simultaneously.

How a small business benefits from a Fractional COO

In cases like this, a fractional COO will free up the CEO to do what they do best.  They can take ownership of projects that the CEO doesn’t have time to shepherd.  COOs facilitate communication between departments.  They can dig into the numbers to identify trends or potential problems that can be addressed before they become too disruptive.

Fractional COOs can be hands-on with ownership of projects and responsibilities as discussed above, or they can take on a more advisory role.  Small businesses are often built around talented, energetic people.  They will benefit from someone to help them grow the business smartly so that it is sustainable and profitable as it scales.  The business may have the on-the-ground resources but needs someone with experience to help guide them.  You can’t just add more people to a business as it grows; you have to intentionally improve your processes and do things differently if you want to be more profitable and more efficient.  Fractional COOs have the “been there done that” experience to help you grow the right way.  They help you reap the rewards of growing your organization.

If you need extra executive bandwidth or want to ensure you are building a scalable business, consider engaging a fractional COO.  Contact us to learn more. CONTACT US  or http://linkedin.com/in/cmatt

Raise your hand if you want to relive the trials that 2020 has brought so far.

Think about the number and breadth of issues that businesses have faced this year:

  • Abrupt changes in how you conduct business or shutting your doors completely for a period of time
  • Letting good employees go to keep the business alive
  • Significant investments in technology and support for work-from-home arrangements
  • Leaning how to manage and engage remote team members
  • Changes to customer expectations and demand for your products and services
  • Charting a new path forward given much uncertainty

Any of those changes alone are significant challenges to address.  When compressed into a period of a few short months, they can be overwhelming.

While many businesses are still trying to recover, they can’t sit still.  Business owners must fearlessly look forward to what the future holds.  The trouble is no one can predict the future with any level of certainty.  So what are businesses to do?

They must have resiliency.  They must be able to withstand or quickly recover from difficult situations – because we may not know what challenges may come down the road, but we do know they are coming.  The ability to bounce back is easier for a company that has sound plans, that operates with little waste or excess that can creep in when times are good, and that truly understands their strengths and weaknesses.

The ability to live to fight another day looks different for every company.  For some, it means access to financial resources like savings or credit to make it through rough times.  For others, it’s the ability for their operations to continue without access to the company’s physical buildings.  Some businesses need to eliminate their least profitable products or services while some need to diversify their revenue streams.  Operating lean and doubling down on what makes your company unique can help you maximize your efficiency and your returns.

What steps are you taking today to prepare your company for the future?  How are you building resiliency?  If you are just beginning this process and need flexible resources to help you, contact us.  http://linkedin.com/in/cmatt or https://opalpg.com/contact-us/

“What took you so long?”

It was the worst feedback I ever received in my career.  And it came from someone I managed, not my manager.

I had failed to act.  I failed to lead.  I didn’t make the tough decision.  I thought I was being nice.  I thought I was getting results by keeping someone on the payroll who was good at what they did.

I knew they had a bad attitude and could be caustic in their interactions with others.  I knew that I, as the manager, sometimes had to be cautious when discussing an issue with them.  I saw others had the same issue with this person.

After an especially unpleasant episode, I finally made the decision that this person no longer belonged on the team.  They didn’t match the values the company was built on.  I let them go.

Within minutes after the decision became known, another team member asked “what took you so long?”  Others echoed the same sentiment.  They were telling me they agreed with the decision, but in reality, they were teaching me a lesson.  Until that moment, I had failed to lead.

Leadership isn’t easy.  You have to make tough decisions for the right reasons.

In this case, I put the values of the organization at risk.  Businesses can state their values, but if they aren’t exhibited, they don’t mean anything.  People will see through them and view it as hypocrisy.  It is a cultural disconnect.  The real values of any company are the ones they actually exhibit and tolerate, not the ones they state on their website.

What tough decisions are you failing to make right now?  Do you have employees who don’t belong on the team?  Do you have people in the wrong seat?  Do you need to change what you are doing or how it’s done?  What will you look back on one day and wish you had taken action?

If you need help sorting through tough decisions, contact us at https://opalpg.com/contact-us/ or at http://linkedin.com/in/cmatt