People told me I was crazy to leave my career to start something new.  Especially when I stumbled explaining the opportunity.  I’d have to repeat to myself “I am voluntarily leaving a stable career with a good company to follow this dream.  Now how do I describe that dream?”  So, what is a Fractional COO?

I think the hardest time I had describing the vision was to my 5 (five is not a typo) kids.  My wife and I agreed to unveil this dream on vacation at a restaurant.  I started with “We have some news…This is something that will impact you, want to guess what it is?”  The responses ranged from “Are you going into politics?”  “Are we moving to the beach?”  “Are we getting a dog?” The excitement started spreading to neighboring tables and the waiter stopped by to listen to the news and fill our glasses.  Eventually, I told them I’m leaving my company to be a Fractional COO. The excitement dissipated, the tables next to us resumed their conversations and I don’t think we saw the waiter again.

 

The smartest one at the table (I won’t tell you which one it was) said “A part time COO”?  “Yes, Exactly!” I responded struggling to rebuild the energy I destroyed with the news.  The others followed up with “What do you do again?”

You probably need a little background here. Around our house we play “business games.”  I admit probably sounds odd and maybe something I should not share.  We have board games like “Cash Flow” which is a nerd’s version of Monopoly featuring accounting principles like income, asset and liabilities. Christmas gifts are stocks and the kids choose the company by pitching an investment plan.  So, maybe not your typical house, but I can predict their questions.  So, after months of preparation I was ready for the interrogation and knew I could win them over.

 

“I’m going to give small to mid-sized companies access to experienced COOs so they can grow.”

 

None of them were buying it.  The youngest took the pause in conversation to start selling the benefits of another dog.  The others, still somewhat engaged, began with the typical line of questioning that I give them every year around ‘stock purchase’ time. “What problems are you going to solve?”  “Why do you think companies need help?”  “Why don’t they just hire someone?”  Eventually, we made it through dinner and treated the kids to ice cream.  I’m not sure anyone was convinced of anything that night. When the conversation turned back to what kind of dog we would get I knew the conversation was over.  Later, my wife and I came up with the list of questions below targeted for small to mid sized companies.

Maybe you or someone you know can identify with the questions below:

  • Who is helping companies identify and roll out new automation or technology opportunities?
  • Who is helping companies rebuild a toxic culture?
  • Who is helping companies overcome the labor shortage by reducing employee turnover?
  • Who is helping companies organize teams, mange workflow, reduce waste and scale?
  • Who is helping companies that have a manager in place, but the manager needs help?
  • Who is helping companies prepare for their next big growth phase?
  • Who is helping companies measure their success? Identify KPIs, align team goals?
  • Who is knocking down information silos?
  • Who is identifying stale policies and outdated ways of doing business?
  • Who is helping lead large, business changing projects?

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