Business Optimization: How Interims do it Right

Business optimization is defined as “the process of identifying and implementing new methods that make the business more efficient and cost-effective.”

Sounds simple, right?

Wrong. The reality, as business owners and C-suite executives know, is that gaining the highest return for the lowest cost on all company expenses isn’t easy. While improving the bottom line by reducing rent is good, gaining similar savings by improving existing processes is better — much better. That’s because the more efficient process will pay back more and more as volume increases. And it can become a catalyst for reducing the operating cost of other related processes.

Experienced interim executives understand that business process optimization is the Holy Grail of cost reduction and business efficiency. They are action-oriented leaders who begin looking for ways to create value and deliver real results to the clients from Day One. They know how to find hidden value in existing products, processes, and systems, how to implement actionable strategies, and how to gain the alignment necessary to optimize the business.

Read More

How to Drive Top Line Growth and Maximize the Bottom Line

As the adage goes, “Growth solves many ills.” Growing companies create more buzz, have an easier time attracting capital and talent, and overall have more opportunities than those in decline or with stalled growth. The two primary sources of top-line growth in revenue are sales to new customers and generating sales growth for existing customers. Both are most easily improved with fresh sales initiatives.

Yin to the yang of optimization efforts, maximization focuses on growing total revenue, market share, units, gross sales margins, and customers. It also focuses on maximizing the opportunities to sell products or services in properly defined and highly aligned channels, a process commonly referred to as the value chain. The value chain includes all activities from pre-sales to customer service that directly impact the customer base.

Read More

How to Achieve Maximum Results with Strategic Alignment

In his book, The Future of Your Company Depends on It, marketing expert Al Reis illustrates the power of focus using light energy as an analogy. The sun, emitting billions of kilowatts of energy will only give us sunburn, while a laser using a tiny fraction of that amount of light energy can cut steel. One key to optimizing organizational performance is ensuring complete strategic alignment of the business goals, creating laser focus on what matters most.

That requires looking at the alignment of human resources— from the executive team to front-line employees — as well as the alignment of products, assets, and strategic decisions. 

In the big picture, ineffective organizations struggle to gain results from solid strategic planning and execution while highly aligned organizations can see benefits even from weaker plans and strategy execution. Great companies find a competitive advantage in optimizing organizational structure to drive superior results. 

Interims understand the importance of strategic alignment. They view people, products, services, processes, technology, systems, methodologies, and other assets as investments that must yield a meaningful ROI and drive efficient operations and ever-increasing sales. 

Read More

What is an Interim Executive Director and Why Would You Want One?

The concept of an Interim Executive Director (ED) isn’t well-known among nonprofit organizations…yet. But, it’s becoming more mainstream and for many good business reasons.

On average, it takes a Board of Directors 9 months to recruit a new Executive Director. By the time they are on-boarded and contributing, a year may have passed since the departure of the prior nonprofit leader.

While nonprofit board members may step up to “mind the gap,” the truth is that stakeholders — employees, partners, and funders — can lose confidence in your organization during this leadership transition and key employees may leave.

Organizing payroll, developing a budget and/or managing human resources may keep the lights on, but without someone filling the executive director role during the transition period, your organization can be harmed and stymied while the Board is focused on the executive search for a new ED.

Read More

CFO Advice: How to Protect Your Business Bank Accounts

Protecting your corporate or small business bank accounts from the possibility of a bank failure seems like one of those worries that shouldn’t keep a small business owner or C-suite executive up at night.

Then came the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. And Signature Bank. And the rescues of First Republic Bank and Credit Suisse.

Jamie Dimon, the Chief Executive Office of JPMorgan Chase who rallied big banks to rescue First Republic, said in his annual letter to shareholders that it ain’t over yet. Even when the current crisis ends, he wrote, “there will be repercussions from it for years to come.”

Suddenly, a good night’s sleep is just as much at risk as your company’s cash. 

So we asked four of our RED Team CFOs to share their advice about how small business owners and executives at lower middle market and middle market companies can protect their business bank accounts in an uncertain banking environment where the next bank failure is as close as the next viral tweet that sends depositors scrambling to make immediate withdrawals.

Please note that these experienced CFOs offered advice based on their personal opinions – it should not be considered tax or legal advice. 

Read More

Seeing with New Eyes: Cross-Pollination in Business Has Advantages

When a company is in need of new leadership, chances are the board and CEO are going to enlist a search firm that will comb through the same old group of people in search of that new leader. They will search for someone who has served in that job at a similar type of company and almost always in the same industry.

It’s the way the business world works.

But is it always the right approach? Not necessarily.

Instead, Lloyd A. Perlmutter, a C-suite executive with years of experience leading businesses through exceptional growth curves, says cross-pollination in business — hiring executives outside of the industry — can be the way to get the kind of innovative ideas that spark innovation and disruption.

Read More

Preparing Your Company for a Sale and How to Get the Help You Need

So you’re looking for an exit strategy and selling the business seems like the best approach. But how do you get the most for the business you have built? Start right now preparing your company for a sale.

A successful sale process takes time. Smart small business owners understand that prospective buyers will be looking at everything from the company’s profitability and cash flow to its product lines and succession plan. 

But how will you ever manage such a time-consuming process AND keep the business running? Preparing your business for a sale will be like taking on another full-time job.

You’re going to need some help. It’s best if that help comes from people with experience selling other businesses. 

Here, we run through the steps for preparing your business for sale and outline the skills you’ll need to get the job done.

Read More

Nearshoring in Mexico: Questions, Concerns, and Possible Problems

Images of ships laden with containers filled with Chinese-made products waiting hours, days, or weeks to unload at California ports is one of the many haunting memories of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those global supply chain disruptions, rising tariffs, and the growing hostilities between the US and China are leading American executives to rethink outsourcing so much of their business to foreign companies an ocean away. A growing number are considering a new supply chain approach: nearshoring in Mexico.

Nearshoring means sourcing products closer to home. In particular, it refers to manufacturing in neighboring countries.

For U.S. companies, that means Mexico. The Latin American country benefits from its geographic proximity to the U.S., its well-established export-oriented industrial sector, and its inclusion in the US-Canada-Mexico North America free trade agreement, notes Forbes.

The move to Mexico is happening fast. When software consulting firm Capterra polled 300 supply chain professionals at businesses with 1,000 or fewer employees and annual revenue of $500 million or less, a whopping 88 percent reported that they plan to move at least some of their Asian supply relationships to companies closer to the U.S.; 45% plan to switch all of them. While the shift has been happening for several years now, it accelerated last year.

Read More

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, lower operating expenses, 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.

Read More

Firing a CEO: The 4 Questions Every Board Should Ask When the CEO Needs to Go

So you’ve made the decision that a change needs to happen at the CEO level, and heaven knows it’s painful! You rely on the CEO as quarterback of the team. It feels like the chief executive is indispensable. But you signed up for service on the board of directors. You know that while corporate governance is a general and varied responsibility, the shareholders trust the board to choose the right CEO. It is, perhaps, the board’s most important decision.

Of course, you’ll go through a permanent search that will be thorough, even if internally focused.

But what happens if you need to fire the CEO and find a new leader right now? Having a CEO exit with no CEO succession plan in place can create a leadership vacuum. The resulting instability within the organization can cause major issues and harm company performance.

The need for a new Chief Executive Officer, the right Chief Executive Officer, is urgent.

After a CEO dismissal, the first thought for many public companies is to look around the boardroom table to see who’s brave enough to be named interim CEO for Sarbanes Oxley compliance.

But, where’s the guts in just appointing a placeholder to keep the seat warm?

The modern world now presents you with a far more robust choice: a true interim CEO. A veteran executive who’s been there, done that. Who is expert at jumping into companies going through points of change. And who is accountable for action and results.

When considering whether to bring on a placeholder versus a true interim CEO until you can hire and onboard a new permanent CEO, here are the questions to ask at your next board meeting.

Read More