In a previous post, we considered the question, what sort of tasks can effectively be outsourced? I explained that almost any task is outsourceable. Particularly, those that you don’t particularly like, are not your skill-set, or that take up too much of your time.
We are all probably a bit comfier with the idea of outsourcing your data entry, social media, or the more laborious of your administrative tasks. What you may not have considered is the idea of outsourcing tasks or positions higher up the chain of command. (Remember what Tim Ferriss said. It is helpful to take the idea of outsourcing to an extreme. It is only seen to be extreme because very few people are exposed to it just now).
I wanted to give you a little insight into what I do. I work as an outsourced COO or Chief Operating Officer for small to medium businesses. We are probably familiar with the COO role in a corporate environment. However, there is a need for this skill set in SME too. This skill-set is key to any business of any size, as with size comes complexity. Complexity, meanwhile, brings the need for systems, processes, project management, and structure to enable the business to run efficiently.
Remind me, what exactly does a COO do?
In an article entitled Second-in-Command, the Harvard Business Review once grappled with the question of what precisely a COO might be. Unsurprisingly, the authors found that, across different COO roles, there is a ‘real disparity’ in terms of what the role demands.
Their research concluded that the COO’s role is dependent on the character of the CEO. The COO, then, is essentially there to complete the Visionary / Operator equation. Or, in other words, to match a HOW person with the WHY person. If you, the CEO, have the ideas, then the COO is there to make those ideas a reality.
The COO is the operational Yin to your creative Yang, focusing on the strategic and pragmatic aspects of your business’s implementation. Whilst you might know your product, the COO turns your business into something successful.
Why Outsource your Chief Operating Officer?
You may ask why, then, such a role should be outsourced, if it is so central to the continuing, predictable success of your business. Many businesses are not at a size that requires a full-time COO. Yet, having them involved part-time ensures the correct systems and processes are in place and are adapted as the business grows. We all know it’s easier to tweak something that is already there – rather than overhaul something entirely.
Additionally, through outsourcing, you can have an incredibly talented and effective COO in your business only for the hours you need them. Their hours can increase as the business requires. As new projects or products are launched they can do more, but settle back when you have slightly less going on.
Outsourcing to an Expert COO
One of the main benefits of outsourcing your COO is precisely that expertise is no longer limited to place. Outsourcing opens your business to a pool of talent far greater than that in your locale. And it can connect you with the experience and expertise that you might need to take your business to the next level.
You may well have the personal passion for your business’s product to get you through the earlier stages of your firm’s life cycle. However, an expert COO can free up your time to focus on the things you love about your work. They have dedicated their life to the operations of businesses and therefore know how to keep them moving…
Outsourcing your COO role to an operations expert means that your business operations will be in the hands of someone who knows exactly what they are doing. Someone who knows your business, your team, and your plans.
A Different Perspective
As I discussed in a previous article, introducing a fresh face to your business is proven to help your decision-making, problem-solving, and team dynamics. Whilst an experienced COO will have accumulated a huge amount of operational insight, a fresh face will not just bring new ideas. Rather, they will also help you see new ideas and solutions yourself. The creative combination of Visionary and Operator skill-sets is a well-proven formula for success.
Within the routine loop of your day-to-day operations, you might not see the wood for the trees. A COO who is external your business will help you see things differently. They will bring new ideas and create solutions to problems that you might have thought impossible to fix.
Thinking of Working with an Outsourced COO
Working as a consultant COO for companies is varied and interesting work. It is key that I understand the business and get to know the owner/founder at the start of the process. Also, it is crucial to understand the vision of the business.
If you are considering outsourcing your COO role, but have been doing it all yourself until now, you have a little bit of homework first. Up until now you have been doing both jobs, CEO and COO, so you need to look at the split of tasks and skill-sets. What would be classed as operations and what would be classed as more CEO tasks? Check out this article for more on this.
Once you have done this, you will have a list of tasks you can pass onto your COO. Now these are jobs you have probably done from the start, so they might be hard to delegate. BUT, remember, what is your ‘Zone-of-Genius’? The things you easily do better than anyone else and enjoy in your business. These are the tasks you should be doing. Hire a COO and utilise their operations ‘Zone-of Genius’ to your advantage!