You might already outsource your web design, your call center, your cleaning services and many other tasks. But when it comes to the C-Suite, entrepreneurs don’t often consider the option to outsource their chief operating officer.
The job itself isn’t as common in the C-Suite today as it once was, but let’s take the example of LeBron James. He runs the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yes, on the org chart, there’s a coach above him, as well as a general manager and a team president. But make no mistake: King James is, as his name indicates, the wearer of the crown.
Let’s call Tyronn Lue, the Cavaliers head coach, LeBron’s outsourced COO. As great as LeBron is, and as critical as he was to winning the NBA championship, he doesn’t know how to coach.
That’s why his partnership with Lue was indispensable, and there can be no question that the Cavaliers wouldn’t have beaten the Golden State Warriors in the finals without this kind of collaboration. Lue held James accountable all the way down the line, and helped hold him to the highest standard — especially in the moments that counted the most when they were down three games to one.
Everyone needs a COO. What follows applies to entrepreneurs and small-business owners even more than it does to NBA legends.
- Your product is your baby — but your secret is that you don’t know how to run a business. You opened a flower shop because you love flowers and nobody knows more about them than you. Or maybe you love numbers and hung your own shingle on an office to do taxes. No matter what your expertise is, running a business is an entirely different beast than your baby. Worse than not knowing how to do it is that, even if you tried, it would probably bore you to death. Being bored is the surest way to lose the focus required to make your business a success.
- An outsourced COO doesn’t want to replace you. In some organizations, the COO becomes a threat to the CEO. That is one reason why the job fell out of favor. Nobody wants to wonder if the person who is supposed be helping you succeed really wants to replace you. That’s not a concern when you outsource your COO. This is how you ensure that this person only has your best interests in mind, as well as those of your business. They only succeed when you succeed.
- Diversity of vision. An outsourced COO is for a small business what a consulting firm is for the largest and most successful companies in the world. Those companies combine to spend billions of dollars (yes, with a “B”) hiring consulting firms. Everyone needs assistance finding new paths to success. Another set of eyes can be the key to making a good idea great. Plus, an outsourced COO has seen many different kinds of operations and will have perspectives on your competition that you probably can’t find within your organization.
- Expert knowledge of things you know little about. You need an operational roadmap. A COO will help you with that and chart a course toward success. From growing your customer base to delivering the product to market research, an outsourced COO will keep you pointed in the right direction. But the COO will bring more than just strategy. She or he will also bring execution. Plus, the COO is flexible to your needs. You can help define the role and whether it should be evenly split between strategy and execution or tilted more in one direction. It’s up to you.
- Freedom to focus. You keep your eye on the prize (the core vision) and the COO makes sure you have time to do that. The COO will handle the nuts and bolts that make the trains arrive on time so you can have the room you need to devise the next great innovation that will take your business to the top.
Never forget that your most precious resource is your time. An outsourced COO is the key to unlocking more of it. Explore the possibilities and you’ll see there have never been more ways to outsource this invaluable job. Doing so will take your enterprise to heights you just can’t reach on your own.