Companies that have survived their first 12-18 months of existence have worked through some initial bumps and are ready to bring their business to the next level.  However, they might not know what that really means, or how to get there.  They need some experience and leadership to come in and get things in order.

One option to consider getting you to that next level is a part-time Chief Operating Officer - a very senior executive who serves as the #2 person in the company supporting the CEO either for a specific project or on an ongoing basis for a few hours a week.  The COO understands and helps manage the financial side but is deeply focused on your client delivery as well as internal operations, tools and processes.  This individual will help you articulate your strategic goals and lay out tactical steps to help you reach them.  There are a growing number of experienced professionals who are looking to step away from a ‘normal’ corporate role and service growing companies on a part-time basis.
Here are just a few of the benefits to you and your company by bringing on a part-time operations executive:

1. Get a highly experienced executive at a much lower cost – A good COO in a major metropolitan area will cost you between $30,000 and $50,000 a month with salary and benefits.  Most new and growing companies don’t have that kind of budget, but you still have the need for operational focus and discipline. A part-time COO gives you access to professionals that you couldn’t otherwise afford to hire.

2. Solve a one-time problem without recurring costs  - Often companies face a one-time issue or project that is incredibly important and requires a senior-level leader, but once that project is completed you do not need an ongoing full-time position. A part-time COO gets you that senior level person for 3 or 6 months to get things in order and you can have your existing staff run the operation from there.

3. Test out the role without committing to a full-time employee –Bringing in a part-time executive lets you test drive the role and the person.  If you are not sure whether you need a COO on a longer term basis, use the part-time approach to see first-hand if this position is the right fit for your structure - and it may even turn out that your part-time person turns into a great long-term hire. 
4. Get a different perspective – The head of your operations doesn’t need to have experience within your industry – in fact I might argue that it’s better if they don’t. Someone who is good at running a company can apply best practices regardless of what you are delivering and bring your business to the next level.

Debbie Millin is President/CEO of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering part-time and interim COO services, operational assessments and executive project leadership.



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