The topic for this discussion is “Interim Management for Small Companies”. First things first; we realize most small companies are well managed by the founders or professional managers. However, in almost every case, when we asked company leaders about a pet project or a project that can’t seem to be wrapped up, we learn of a need that can be filled by an Interim.
Here are a few we’ve experienced:
- Budgeting beyond the next cash crisis and banker/investor relationships
- Sales growth and new product/market development
- Strategy development and execution implementation beyond running the business day-to-day
- Competitive analysis and a realistic view of the competition (including market trend impact on the business)
- Crisis management and the implementation of processes to head-off or control future events
- Creating an effective Advisory Board for companies without a formal Board of Directors
In most instances the company is trying solve these issues with existing personnel. Each of these issues, and more, can be resolved by employing an Interim.
While this may seem obvious, the common belief is that a small business can’t afford a professional Interim. One possibility is to hire an Interim “part-time.” Perhaps the Interim works a few days per week or month and focuses on a specific issue. Perhaps the company can hire more than one part-time Interim, if there are multiple specific focus areas.
There are also situations where an “outsider” brings expertise based on experience. For example, the sale of a small company, transition to a successor, dealing with family members or improving efficiency in a staid, complacent culture.
Other situations to consider using an Interim include:
- Times of difficulty in banking relationships
- Facing large competitors entering a regional market
- Finding ways to compete with customer trends
- Dealing with outdated internal practices in a digital customer world
One of the best uses of Interims is to help formulate the future for the company. Fuzzy vision and difficult decisions can demotivate employees and bring the company to a standstill. Examples include:
- Decision to sell or keep the company or bring in new management
- Selling off non-core assets or product lines
- Is succession planning adequate to fix the problem
- When a layoff is necessary during turbulent times in the company
Most importantly, an “outsider’s” perspective is a great way for a small company Founder or Professional Manager to sound out ideas without creating a distraction among employees. Once a direction is decided a message can be crafted to ensure understanding and buy-in for all involved. The key issue may be to have the “outsider” deliver the message. There is no company history or politics for the Interim and there will be no legacy distractions since the Interim will leave the company when the project is completed.