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.



05/01/2013 4:57pm

great post. At Successful Transition Planning Institute, we counsel long time executives and business owners who are (or will soon be) transitioning from their businesses, to see paid work as part of the "10 Aspects of their Lives". By doing so, they not merely earn some money, but add significant value to their lives in a coaching/mentoring role. It is far more meaningful than a typical "leisure retirement", and sure beats "dying at their desks".

05/02/2013 5:55pm

Paul - completely agree! I am working on my next blog which touches on the fact that not only are part-time execs a great resource during the exit planning process, but that the exiting business owners can start a 'second career' as part-time execs themselves.

Chris Davis
05/02/2013 9:03am

There is definitely a real "experience/advisory" need for early stage companies. Mentoring through MASS Technology Transfer Center, Cleantech Open and the like are a few ways to connect to the fledging companies. If you are a senior executive who wants to give, how else can you establish connections to these early stage companies?

05/02/2013 6:07pm

Chris - there are SO many options in the Boston and Cambridge area! It's just a matter of finding the right places for you. Here is a sample list of organizations/companies I have found have programs and events focused on startups - hope it is helpful!

Venture Cafe (Kendall Square)
Area universities (particularly MIT, Harvard, Bentley and Babson)
Law firms (McCarter & English, Foley Hoag)
128 Innovation Capital Group
The Web Innovators Group
Mass Innovation Nights

05/13/2013 3:24pm

Would love to talk with you about how we can work together

The 5 Founders worked together at Tatum CFO

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