Creating an Omnichannel Customer Experience and Why Retailers Must

Omnichannel is the new retail. It means that there are no walls between brick and mortar and online, between online and social media, between social media and email and, one day very soon, between humans and the metaverse. In other words, the omnichannel customer experience creates a seamless customer journey that allows consumers to move easily among all of the channels a retailer can use to reach a purchaser.

A Digital Commerce 360 analysis of US Commerce Department data shows that consumer spending online in the US rose to $870.78 billion in 2021, up 14.2 percent from the pandemic-inflated numbers recorded in 2020. Compare the 2021 figure to pre-pandemic 2019 stats and online spending rose a whopping 50.5 percent.

Those are numbers far too big to ignore. Customer retention demands a seamless experience that allows consumers to move from in-store to online to in-app purchases with ease.

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How to Overcome Barriers to Organizational Change Fast

Humans are hard-wired to resist change that we don’t like or fear. Our brain interprets that sort of unwelcome change as a threat and readies us for “fight or flight.” 

Given that, it’s easy to see why companies find implementing change management initiatives so challenging. When evolution is desperately needed, employees dig in their heels and cling to inefficient systems and outdated technology. 

This weakens the company’s competitive edge, slows its go-to-market opportunities, and wreaks havoc internally. The end result is that these organizations remain stagnant, fueled by a lack of internal alignment and frustration among employees who are not empowered to make decisions.

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Your Complete Guide to Launching a Search Fund

As the incredible success of private equity over the past couple decades has made clear to many aspiring company owners and investors, if you can find and acquire a decent company, it’s possible to earn great returns.

This has fueled a new class of individuals seeking to launch their own search funds. What exactly is a search fund and how do you become successful at it?

Let’s explore.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Entrepreneurial Studies explains search funds this way: “The model offers relatively inexperienced professionals with limited capital resources a quick path to managing a company in which they have a meaningful ownership position.”

Inexperienced professionals? Limited capital resources? It doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success.

But it can be.

Rethinking Your Resume: Coaching from a Former Major League Pitcher

When Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Adam Russell’s baseball career ended, he had to figure out a whole new career, with virtually no warning.

Today, the former big leaguer works in the insurance industry and volunteers helping other sports figures make the transition to a post-playing career.

It starts with the resume.

“A lot of guys don’t know how to relate what they learned in professional baseball to the business world,” Russell says. “I was seeing resumes that said things like, ‘I set the record for triples in the month of August in Round Rock.’ Great. It’s awesome. But a CEO doesn’t give a crap about it.”

Not understanding how to sell oneself on paper is certainly not a problem limited to former athletes. At InterimExecs, we’ve seen resumes from C-suite executives with 30 years of valuable experience leading companies, making change, and having an impact, who headed their resumes – first item up – with the degree they got from an Ivy League college many years earlier.

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The process of turning around a troubled entity is complex, due to multiple key stakeholders, usually including lenders, creditors, investors, owners and employees. All have different agendas.

In my work, I address the turnaround process as if all constituents are in favor of proceeding to the end, when a restructured entity emerges. Nothing about a turnaround is simple, but that approach at least clarifies the forward movement.

Above all, focus on the management team. Businesses fail because of mismanagement. According to a study conducted by the Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Advisors, only 9 percent of failures are due to influences beyond management’s control.

Mismanagement is most often seen in more than one of these multiple areas:

  •  autocratic style
  •  ineffective personnel management
  •  vague goals
  •  lack of new customers
  •  inadequate strategic analysis
  •  mismanaged growth.

So, as Will Rogers said, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

That’s good advice for business owners and the senior management responsible for leading a company.

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How To Do a Reverse Merger Into a Public Shell Company in 9 Not So Easy Steps. Or SPAC in 10!

When it’s time for a private company to go public, or the board of directors determines that fundraising is needed on a large scale, an IPO is not the only option. There’s also a less-well-known and, until recently, less-well-respected option: a reverse merger into a public shell. It is often called an Alternative Public Offering (APO).

This reverse takeover process, which can be faster and cheaper than a traditional Initial Public Offering, is growing in popularity.

Scott Jordan (no relation to InterimExecs’ CEO Robert Jordan), an investment banker and CFO who spent 30+ years working in biotech, engineered a reverse merger of a biopharma company in 2019. He says that while the coronavirus caused capital flow interruptions, investors in the private markets are still providing capital to companies with novel or scientifically validated biotechnology companies.

That means reverse mergers and PIPEs (Private Investment in a Public Entity) can still raise money needed to complete their deals. He estimates that about 20 biotech firms debuted in the public markets last year as a result of reverse mergers and the number is on track to repeat in 2020, despite the virus.

But let’s back up and begin at the beginning.

The Case for Hiring Part-Time or Fractional Executives

It seems like every business owner dreams of achieving major traction in the marketplace. That fast track growth, however, often comes at a cost. Things get taped together. There’s no process to speak of. Systems? Ha. Things go missing, including clients and team members. Lack of resources means that even the crown jewel, the company’s ability to out-innovate, may be put on hold just to keep up.

When a company grows faster than the capabilities of the leadership team, the end result is often a splat: the company hits the wall.

Smart fast-growing companies have started looking to part-time or fractional executives to provide c-suite leadership, mentorship, and the operational upgrades needed to help a company break through the ceiling to growth.

Fractional executives bring the fresh perspective of experienced c-level executives quickly and affordably. With a focus on getting results, companies find that renting the rock star exec outweighs getting 100 percent of the time of a lesser light.

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Crypto 101: Cryptocurrency Basics for Business Executives

Crypotcurrency. NFTs. Bitcoin. Blockchain. They’re the hip new financial products and all the cool kids are talking about them. As many as 40 million have invested in them.

But what are cryptocurrencies and how will they affect the way you run your business in the future?

We talked to Stephen Meade, founder of TheBullsEyeGuy.com, who shared his expertise in a cryptocurrency 101 tutorial. In this beginner’s guide, he explains what cryptocurrencies are, explodes some myths about what they’re good for and helps you understand how you may use them to manage your business in the future.
Let’s dive in.

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Business Exit Strategy: Owners Neglect at Their Peril

InterimExecs founder Robert Jordan learned early the tremendous weight an entrepreneur must bear: “When you own the company, it’s nothing like being an employee,” he writes in exploring the sacred trust of ownership. “You might as well compare lifting up a hundred pound weight versus a feather.”

Jordan, who founded his first small business at age 26 and “hit every speed bump you could possibly think of, and then a couple more just for creativity points,” has learned a lot along the way. Among the most important lessons: while business exit planning is critical, it is usually neglected – at the owner’s and board’s peril.

Alejandro Cremades agrees. His new book, Selling Your Startup: Crafting the Perfect Exit, Selling Your Business, and Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need to Know, hit bookstore shelves in July 2021, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was heading into the Delta phase. 

He believes that an economic downtown is coming because, he says, the way “governments have been printing money” to fight the pandemic is “just not sustainable.” That means the cash small business owners need to survive could dry up quickly. 

And that, in turn, will lead to wave of mergers and acquisitions, he believes, making it all that much more important for a company’s management team to add “crafting an exit strategy” to their business goals.

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How to Improve Your Company’s Performance: 5 Critical Questions to Ask

Every business owner is looking for ways to improve company performance. But where to start? Management consultants talk about KPIs and workflow, business strategy and culture. All important, to be sure. But in a rapidly changing world, owners and managers do well to ask themselves how they can improve business performance — even when financials look great at the time.

Often, by the time a company calls us for help, the signs of peril have been lurking or shouting out for months or years. The bottom line is that the leader missed or ignored signs of pending crisis because they failed to ask themselves critical questions.

1. How Can We Improve Customer Satisfaction?

“To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business,” said Peter Drucker, the godfather of the field of modern management. Each year, the Drucker Institute identifies the best-managed public companies in the US. The ranking gauges America’s largest publicly traded companies according to Peter Drucker’s principles of effectiveness: “Doing the right things well.” One of the metrics for performance is high quality customer satisfaction.

And it’s easy to see why customer service matters. How often do you get fed up with long call wait times, or sites that are unbelievably hard to navigate?

The days when big companies had a monopoly that meant they didn’t need to worry about customer retention are long gone. Today, customers demand that all companies — large businesses as well as small businesses — cultivate a strong positive relationship with them.

In today’s hyper competitive business climate, deeply understanding what motivates your customers and leads to customer retention must be a non-negotiable business goal.

To thrive in this economy, businesses need to take a close hard look at how customer engagement and customer satisfaction can be improved. That could mean conducting focus groups, managing a social media listening program, implementing IT initiatives to improve customer wait times, improved sales training, and/or regular customer check-ins. Every company should have a customer experience performance improvement program in place.

Knowing how well you’re serving customers right now and what you need to improve is a key measure of whether your business will be successful in the future.

2. How Can We Grow Employee Engagement and Development?

“The enterprise must be able to give [its employees] a vision and a sense of mission. It must be able to satisfy their desire for a meaningful contribution to their community and society,” Drucker said.

This is not your father’s world. Hiring someone who stays with a company 25+ years is no longer a realistic goal. But there still are ways to improve employee performance, employee satisfaction, and employee productivity. What do your team members value? Gen Zers are likely to be looking beyond pay as an incentive to engage. They want mentoring, they want some say in decision-making and they want to know that they are making an impact.

If your employees are reporting low morale, lack of communication, or turning in poor work performance, it may be because they do not feel connected to your mission and vision.

Every employee should know what your organization is trying to accomplish, why the mission and vision are good for the organization and good for them, and how they can play a part in making that mission and vision come to life.

How can you better nurture and develop talent within your team?

3. How Can We Be More Innovative?

Every business needs to spend cycles to evaluate products, services, processes, and markets. They must prune ones that are no longer relevant, and build on the success of others to continuously improve or innovate.

No sector will be spared as technology and IOT changes how we interact with products and services. Case in point: Taxis have been around for more than half a century, unchanged. Then Uber disrupted the marketplace. Hotels were the de facto go-to until Airbnb hit the market, giving consumers options to rent a whole house for the price of a cramped hotel room.

Certainly, ramping up innovation can be a challenge. Oftentimes, bringing in a fresh perspective can do wonders. There is plenty of valuable expertise in your company, but the ability to see beyond daily performance management processes and optimize for new, potentially high-performing opportunities takes a new perspective. Even if your staffs possesses the necessary skill sets to innovate, sometimes the best thinking for your business, even your industry, will come from other sectors.

What resources will you commit to R&D to learn what is working and what needs business improvement in the short-term and over a longer time frame?

4. Are We Being Socially Responsible?

If living through two years of a worldwide pandemic taught us nothing us, it’s that we are all connected. The Drucker Institute report says that management must take responsibility for the impact of their organization and do what is genuinely in the public good.

Taking time to review how your company is socially and environmentally conscious can reveal whether you are running your business as effectively as possible. What are your core values? Do people know those core values and adhere to them as to not exploit people and resources? How are you giving back to the community and your employees?

It is a priority that cannot be dismissed today. Employees as well as customers expect it.

Can you set goals that prioritize social responsibility?

5. How Can We Improve Our Financial Strength?

Financial strength is, of course, the key to corporate effectiveness. Without it, there will be no company.

“There is only one appropriate yardstick of business performance. This is the return on all assets employed or on all capital invested,” Drucker said. “To be a marginal producer is always dangerous.”

Financial numbers alone do not paint a proper picture of a company’s management style or its health, but they cannot be overlooked. Look at your company’s financial performance against where you could be operating. Are you hitting your goals and metrics?

How We Can Help You Improve Your Company’s Performance

A well-run company is a sum of many parts, and the Drucker Institute report highlights the most important pieces you must assess to determine if your business is running optimally. A weakness in one area can easily have a domino effect, negatively impacting other areas of a business.

Owners, entrepreneurs, and management teams should conduct a business assessment to get a snapshot of the health of their organizations. If there is a lack of time and leadership resources, proactive businesses find an outside leader to conduct their needs assessment.

Harvard Business Review reports that an organization has less than a 10% chance of ever recovering from a stall in growth whether it’s due to problems with execution or failing to pivot away from a core strategy that isn’t working. To avoid being one of the statistics, ensure you are in touch with where your organization sits, and what you can consistently be improving to charge into the future.

Reach out to us for a confidential consultation to assess how an interim CEO, CFO, CIO or CMO can help improve your company’s performance.