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.

Maximizing Operational Efficiency: Expert COOs Offer Tips for Improving Process and Productivity

Operational efficiency is the key to successful companies, the wish of all companies, and the bane of far too many. Successful COOs have found ways to develop processes that root out inefficiencies, improve productivity, and increase profit margins. 

Here, two expert COOs share what they have learned from repeated successes at mega-million-dollar corporations.

Steve Raack, a COO who has led consumer goods giants, including Beautycounter and Herbalife; and Mike Bartikoski, a manufacturing and supply chain expert who has run operations for Hershey and Pepsico among others, shared their insights during a wide-ranging webinar and Q&A moderated by InterimExecs CEO Robert Jordan. You can access the full webinar on-demand.

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Discover Your Unique Leadership Style

Get excited! We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new book Right Leader Right Time: Discover Your Leadership Style for a Winning Career and Company, set to hit Amazon and other outlets, March 29. First a little backstory:

Since 2009, we have had the good fortune of speaking with thousands of executives, owners, and investors. If you look at interim as a specialty, it almost always is associated with some type of change happening within an organization. Maybe exponential growth is on the horizon. Or the opposite and the building is on fire. It could be competition is looming and fresh thinking is needed. In matching executives from the RED Team with companies big and small, we saw firsthand that the biggest predictor of success always came down to one thing: leadership.

We wrote Right Leader Right Time, to share our lens on leadership and to help leaders and organizations move toward bigger and better opportunities. Let’s jump into just a few key insights:

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Executive Matchmaking and the Sacred Trust of Ownership

When you own the company, it’s nothing like being an employee. You might as well compare lifting up a hundred pound weight versus a feather.

Through the years I’ve owned or been a shareholder in a number of companies. So when I initially started a career taking on interim assignments – in my case helping companies prep for sale and ultimately exiting to a financial buyer or strategic investor – I approached every company as if it was my own.

Only in running and owning a company can you know firsthand the sleepless nights.

Pondering everything. Like cash flow.

Hiring and retaining your best people.

Making payroll.

The questions are endless: how do we compete better? How do we win ridiculously large contracts? What do we do if the market goes down? How do we make our marketing viral?

Ownership is not for everyone and it is easy to feel….well, alone.

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A Look Back on 2021 and the RED Team

As we reflect on the past year, we are grateful to the incredible executives that make up InterimExecs RED Team, as well as our clients who have put their faith in us and the leaders we deploy. We’ve jumped into companies from fintech to healthcare to manufacturing. Some struggling with declining revenue, lack of systems and process, or high turnover. Others experiencing big growth — maybe even spurred on by the last two years in a pandemic and changes to consumer behavior.

We’ve wrapped up a few top highlights from the year here: 2021 Year in Review

Wishing you and your families happy holidays and a prosperous New Year!

2021 YEAR IN REVIEW

A Veteran CPG Executive on Building a Cannabis Brand

The cannabis business has been exponentially growing in the last few years — just look to the proliferation of dispensaries, and growing acceptance across state lines. But thanks likely in part to stress and stay-at-home orders, 2020 was a big year for the bud. According to a BDSA report, sales of legal cannabis in the U.S. hit $17.5 billion last year, a nearly 50% increase from 2019. And it’s projected to jump to more than $40 billion by 2026 as more and more states legalize cannabis overall or add adult use programs to existing medical ones.

That means standing out in the market is all the more important. Businesses can follow some parts of the consumer product playbook, but with wildly different rules and regulations from state to state, bringing a cannabis product to market is anything but traditional. That’s what InterimExecs RED Team executive, Leah Bailey — Chief Business Development Officer at Australis Capital Inc. an early stage, brand focused MSO that was originally an offshoot of Canadian LP Aurora and former CEO of Fluresh, a vertically integrated cannabis company based in Michigan — experienced when she made the pivot to cannabis.

“I’d worked for many years in consumer products and was looking to find new challenges and learn a new industry,” says Bailey, whose resume includes mass market personal care and beauty product providers Helen of Troy, Paris Presents and Unilever. “I love the fact that everything we do is a challenge. Many people are coming out of traditional consumer products companies like PepsiCo and Kraft and going into cannabis from a marketing standpoint. It’s become very accepted.”

What is the key to starting and growing a cannabis business? Here, Bailey explains how to translate traditional CPG skills to a cannabis brand, understanding consumers without traditional market research, and what the future holds for the industry.

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An ERP Implementation Strategy to Improve Your Business Operations

It’s a common scenario: A company spends the money to delve into a massive ERP implementation only to get stalled, Or worse, flounder and fall flat (and lose big bucks in the process).

Maybe it’s the lack of planning or software curation. Maybe it’s not thinking ahead for future needs. It might also boil down to not having the right talent to make that integration sing.

For all that goes into ERP implementation — ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, is, after all, managing, streamlining and tying together all the most essential parts of a business — strategizing every step should be a nonnegotiable.

“ERP systems usually get replaced every seven to 10 years. I’ve been with some companies where they hadn’t replaced them for 25 years,” says Bruce Howard, an InterimExecs RED Team member and Interim CIO who has spent much of his career implementing ERP systems.

“There’s a planning phase to bring all of the pieces together and make sure you’ve got a clear approach and clear people assigned. And then you need a methodology for the way you select systems and implement.”

To better understand the components of a successful ERP implementation and strategy, how an ERP can support business operations and better decision making, and how bringing in a veteran can elevate the process, we asked Howard along with interim executives Tony DeLima and Alonso Vargas to walk us through the essential elements.

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