In a previous article, I discussed some of the benefits of finding and working with an outsourced Chief Operating Officer. This is your ‘second-in-command’ responsible for the structural and implementational aspects of your business (whilst you, the CEO, focus on the more creative, ‘big picture’ side of things!).
We talked about three main benefits. Specialist and dedicated expertise, coming from a wealth of operational experience. Trust and reliability, working with you to combine skills for the benefit of the business. And a different perspective looking in from outside the business, bringing fresh eyes to an organisation that may otherwise be treading water.
But there are plenty more. Here, I want to continue highlighting the benefits of outsourcing such a role. And to persuade you that it might be one of the better things that you could do for your business. If some commentators have described the COO’s function as ‘the Job Most Entrepreneurs Don’t Think to Outsource’, it’s time to start thinking of doing precisely that.
Getting Back to What You Love the Most
In business circles these days, we are all a little overwhelmed by the anxiety that we just don’t have enough time. On this blog, I’ve covered ways to ease this problem, with different tips on how to work more efficiently and on how to get yourself in the headspace to work and focus properly.
But part of the problem for business leaders is that often you just have more stuff to do than actual time in the day. (Elsewhere, I’ve used Tim Ferriss’s nice expression, ‘time-famine’, to describe this precise problem.) And this strain only increases if you are taking on both the Visionary roles of your work and the Operator functions.
As we have discussed before, most WHY people – the ideas people of business – don’t necessarily have an equal amount of the ‘HOW’ skill-set required to make those amazing ideas into a reality. And often enough, they don’t even like those tasks that are necessary. Ever find yourself have an amazing idea in your business, and then once you begin to drill into the details of actually implementing it, you almost talk yourself out of it?
This is precisely what an outsourced COO (a HOW person!) can do for you. Cut your workload by taking the operational part of your business from your shoulders. You give the direction or vision, inspire the team, ‘lead the charge’, and do what you do best. But you leave the strategic, operational details to be crafted by someone else. I love seeing the change in people’s approach and how their available work ‘bandwidth’ increases and their creativity soars once they have a ‘HOW’ person on board!
Do You Actually Need Someone Full-Time?
Traditional thinking about employment usually brings you back to the notion of nine-to-five. In this, someone isn’t really working unless they endure five office days a week, each sandwiched between two rush-hours.
But, as I have made clear in my piece on flexibility and remote work, this way of working is a little outdated. And it’s usually harnessed to the desire of bosses to keep an eye on their employees.
Thinking about it, though, do you really need a COO that is there full-time? What if you could have them on hand for the specific projects you need them for, whilst they just ‘keep an eye’ on operations throughout the week?
You might find that you only need a COO half the time – or slightly more or slightly less. Having one in-house then just becomes a waste. Meanwhile, an outsourced COO can offer both the commitment and the flexibility that provides you with the perfect balance.
And if You Need a COO Right Now
Say you’re entering into a critical phase of your business – you are launching a new product or dealing with an unprecedented increase in demand. Maybe you’re in that ‘white water’ phase of your business, in which your sales outdo your structural capacity to manage them. Everyone is just paddling for their life trying to keep the raft afloat!
Yet, hiring someone through the conventional pathways – as we all know – can be a long and laborious process. Often, it can take months, and you might not be able to wait that long at this crucial moment.
The benefit of an outsourced COO is precisely that flexibility that we discussed earlier. Outsourcing is a much more streamlined process than traditional employment. We are used to getting ‘on-board’ quickly, asking the right questions and get stuck in with relative ease.
From Outsourced to In-House
It might be the case that you are looking for a permanent operating officer for your business – someone upon whom you can rely for years to come. However, a common anxiety amongst CEOs regards the trustworthiness of a new senior employee to whom a lot of responsibility is to be given. You might not want to employee someone unless you know them properly first. Starting with outsourcing allows you to trial the relationship and to build the trust before you bring them in-house or on board full-time.
This is really a mindset shift. With nearly half the workforce due to be freelance by 2050, it is only a matter of time before businesses begin to take advantage of this effective outsource option and see the benefits to their business almost immediately.
I am a firm believer in enabling people to do the work that falls in their unique ‘zone-of-genius’. I.e. those things you do easily and enjoy which others dislike and others find hard. So why should it be any different for you as a business owner. Have a think: what do you like doing and what are you naturally good at?… DO THAT! Whatever the size of your business, you can hire someone else to deal with the other necessary functions of your business. Just wait and see the difference it will make to your enjoyment of your work and life!