I do lots of research before I go on a vacation, mostly to find things that are off the beaten path - I don't like to go where all the tourists go. On a trip to Sedona several years ago with my husband, two children and my sister-in-law Nanci, I planned for us to drive up to the local airport on top of a plateau to watch the sunset. It was said to be breath-taking. I was excited to say the least.

We were running a little late at dinner, and I was anxious to get to the sunset. As we were driving up the road, cars were driving down. We had missed it - it was over. We got to the top looking out over Sedona, with no sunset, and I was incredibly disappointed. It was then that Nanci told us to turn around and look behind us....the moon was rising over a mountain. It was spectacular. It was not at all what we had planned - it was better.

Sometimes in our work, in our careers, in our lives, things don't always work out as we plan. A project doesn't get completed on time. A prospective client falls through. A job you really want ends going to someone else. Yet somehow it always seems that we end up right where we are supposed to be. It always brings you to another place, and though you may be disappointed at first, sometimes all it takes is a slight change in your position - turn around, and the thing that had been behind you becomes an even better path forward.

I have a picture of Nanci and my kids with the moon rising over the mountains hanging on my wall. And even though my son's eyes are closed, that picture was one of her favorites - it is one of mine too - because it captured that amazing moment. We lost Nanci to cancer a year and a half ago, and of the many, many lessons she taught me, this is one of the most meaningful. 

Don't dwell on the fact that you missed your sunset, or you will miss the opportunity to see you are right where you are supposed to be. Turn around - find your moonrise.

Debbie Millin is President of UpperLevel Solutions - a  Boston-based firm offering  part-time and interim Chief Operating Officer services, operational assessments as a health check or as part of due diligence,
and executive project leadership.

Our last blog post was about the rise of part-time executives and how they can be a fantastic and affordable resource for startups and entrepreneurs. The other end of that spectrum is how part-time executives can help the ever-growing number of baby boomers who are ready to exit their business.

There are a staggering number of business owners now preparing for retirement and a sale of their company. Exit planning specialists to support this growing market are also on the rise, and they generally recommend the following approach: establish a team of experts to look at different aspects of the business and the transaction. You don't want an accountant doing your legal work, and you don't want a lawyer running your operations. You want specialists in each area to tap their expertise and get you the most value for your business, coming in just when you need them for short-term support - another perfect synergy with part-time executives.

According to Transfer2020.org, the conservative number of boomer-owned businesses that will be available for sale (with owners 57 years old and older right now) in the next five to ten years will be between 1.3 million and 2 million firms. All of those firms need succession planning, operational support, and transaction specialists as they prepare to exit. 

In our recent blog, Getting Your House In Order for the Successful Transition  Planning Institute, we outlined the benefit of doing some operational organization before you formally enter the due diligence phase. Investing a small of amount of money and time in the 6 month period before you begin your transaction can lead to better operational efficiencies, a higher value for your business, and a smoother transition for the company and the owner.

The exiting business owner gets the highest possible value for their company, and is actually a perfect candidate to become a part-time executive themselves. A second career to help the next generation of business owners achieve their own success.

Debbie Millin is President of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering  part-time and interim Chief Operating Officer services, operational assessments as a health check or as part of due diligence,
and executive project leadership.


With an increasing number of startups and entrepreneurs, there is an influx of  young companies with amazing products and services...but they are being run by people who often have little-to-no experience in operations, marketing, HR, legal and management issues.

I have attended several Mass Innovation Nights - most recently I was featured in their Expert's Corner at #MIN49 -  and lots of other events in and around Boston focused on startups, rapidly growing companies, and business consulting.  There are some definite trends I have observed first-hand, including a growing number of entrepreneurs and corporate executives that have decided to leave 'corporate' behind. 

The Entrepreneurs
They start their company on a shoestring budget, oftentimes working long nights and weekends on their dream after getting home from their day job. For those that start to get some success, founders often find themselves in need of guidance in a variety of areas where they have no experience. They also find themselves in a position of being unable to hire senior level people on a full-time basis due to budget constraints. They need help in different areas of the business at different phases of the company's growth.

The Part-Time Executives
These are senior executives who have worked their way up the ladder in the corporate world and enjoyed years of success. They get to a point in their career when they want to do something different and to have more control of their work and their time, and either go into a consulting firm or start their own consulting business. These are HIGHLY experienced executives in a variety of disciplines: finance, legal, operations, marketing - you name it. 

These two groups are a perfect match.

Entrepreneurs need guidance and don't have a lot of money to spend.  Part-time executives have years of real-life experience they want to share with growing companies, and because of that experience are able to get a lot accomplished in a small amount of time. Utilizing part-time executives can get the entrepreneurs experience they couldn't otherwise afford, avoids the need for full-time staff, and gives them flexibility to bring in specialists from different disciplines as the needs of the company change. 

A recent article in The Conference Board Review discusses a list called "The Power Part-Time 50" published by Timewise Jobs in the UK.  It demostrates the growing phenomenon of highly accomplished executives working in powerful part-time roles.  An article in Forbes entitled Who's Starting America's New Businesses? And Why? not only shares the staggering statistics of new businesses being started each month in the US, but also stresses the fact that many of these entrepreneurs are young (30% are between the ages of 20 and 34) and in need of mentorship to be successful. 

This is the new landscape. The combination of entrepreneurs and part-time executives is incredibly powerful, and a trend that continues to be very much on the rise.

Debbie Millin is President of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering  part-time and interim Chief Operating Officer services, operational assessments as a health check or as part of due diligence, and executive project leadership.