39. Fractional vs. Operational

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/39. Fractional vs. Operational

39. Fractional vs. Operational


There are many different ways to bring operational support onto your team. If you’re like more small businesses, you need someone immersed in the day-to-day of the company. Someone to directly take tasks off the CEOs desk and lead the team.

That’s where an Operator can really help you.

I noticed that many are being recommended to look for fractional COOs or fractional Integrators for their businesses.

While that has its place, today I’ll discuss why I don’t recommend that as the first step.

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So as you may remember, a couple weeks ago, us down at Funnel Hacking Live in Orlando got to collect a two comma Club Award and got to meet a whole lot of people. And there was kind of some chatter going on about a particular topic, I just want to unpack it here today. And it's the idea of having a fractional CEO or integrator in your company. And this is something that, you know, definitely gets me a little involved because for years, I was the operator. So just just as far as terms goes, let's get this out of the way, integrator operator, those two terms are kind of interchangeable. I tend to stick with operator. That's primarily because of what I know that I've done as an operator. It's also that that particular title, a kind of it's home with me because operators are actually it's a term used in the military. And operator is usually the the tip of the spear, as we would often say operators. They're the quiet professionals that do the work that no one else can do. No one else should be doing. And most of the time the American public doesn't know what our operator units do. I had the pleasure of working as an operator for several of my years in the service. But these are all highly highly trained Special Operations units, most of the names of which you have never heard of and you will never hear of.

So those are operators are from a military perspective. So when I first heard operator mentioned from the business perspective Islands, a guy gleamed onto a medium like yes, this someone finally gets it right. Because like companies are increasingly difficult to manage. I don't know if increasingly, maybe that's, that's throwing something in there. But running a company, especially a virtual company, like most of us have, takes certain skill sets. It takes certain ways of approaching things, ways of solving things. And so when I hear operators like yes, that's it. That being said, an operator having an operator on your team. So as far as the terms goes, I'm just gonna say operator for the rest of the episode, if you prefer integrator, just think operator or think and integrator when I say operator, okay, make sense? Good. Fantastic. Okay. So one things that Russell Brunson said during one of his presentations was, there's really two core people that are needed for a successful business as you're growing. One is the attractive character, the face of the business, the person with the vision, that's helping to, to sell that and cast that, you know, big fat vision of what's possible for your students or your for your customers. The second most important person on that team is the operator. So, there's been a bit of a trend lately or maybe a misunderstanding of what that should be in your business. And I've heard a lot of people throw around terms like fractional CEO or fractional integrator. So this is someone that's very much a part time person on your team. I've personally know people that are the integrator for five or six companies, quite frankly, having been in that role, like my head hurts thinking about that my heart hurts a little bit for them too. Because I can't imagine what that's like, like, okay, it's Wednesday afternoon. Now I do my integrator stuff for this company. Okay, Thursday is my integrator day for this company.

It just hurts my head, to even wrap my mind around that. Because I knew how involved I was in the team, and all the various things that were on my plate when I was an operator. So the operator really, if you're running it the way I prefer to have it run, I mean, the operators that number two in the company, very trusted ally and asset for the CEO to be able to do their best work. I even I was talking to Colin Boyd. As we were exiting Funnel Hacking live and I asked him like, hey, what wham what should an integrator do for you? It's like, Man, I really need my integrator to, like, tell me what to do every day. And quite frankly, call me on my bullshit when I get when I get out of my zone of genius and there's no one gonna be able to do that, if they're working at a fractional level really needs to be a full time position. So if, if you're hearing that advice to make this a part time hire, or to farm it out to some agency, it's going to sign someone I would just strongly recommend against that. Bring someone into the team. Bring someone on your team, make them Full Time. And you know, if if you don't know how to make them full time, you don't know how to give them enough work, I can help you with that, I promise you, I can get enough work off your plate and get them to be a full time position, just, you know, hit me up, send me an email, we'll get on a call. And I'll kind of tell you some of those steps. Because there are ways to do that. When you're talking about the operational role, though, there's a couple of reasons where I say it really needs to be full time. The first is full time does something for the person that you're hiring, when you bring someone in full time, they're trusting in you, it gives them buy in, they have agency in the company doing well, because this is their gig too. And so just that little psychological shift that happens when we do get someone that's dedicated to a role really does make a difference.

It also increases what I like to call shower time, where your operator is going to be thinking about the business and thinking about ways to move forward even when they're not at work. So I know I would always get great ideas on a run, or yes, in the shower, or while I'm, you know, doing chores around the house, I get ideas on things to improve for the team and see things that could move the company forward with that, if they're involved in the day to day, they're close to the product, they're close to the team, they're going to be able to see opportunities, help inspire the direction of the company help inspire you, as the CEO, to move the company to the next level, they're gonna see things that you don't, that's the important thing. And that's only going to happen, if it's a full time commitment, because they're going to be really involved in the company, it's so different than bringing someone in from the outside, you know, we've had outside consultants come in, take a look and suggest like five or six things that were like, yeah, we've done like literally all six of those. Oh, I didn't know well, how could you, you know, you weren't, you weren't there. So you know, we've had that happen. If they're in the day to day, they are going to have that different perspective. The the really, the final thing is that the operator is going to have a very close relationship with the rest of the team. We structured it as such, where and this even happens if you follow the the rocket fuel methodology where, you know, the integrator is kind of in between the CEO and the rest of the team, the team needs the integrator operator as much as the operator needs to theme. You know, it's very much a symbiotic relationship where you know, you have a relationship with the team, they have a relationship with you. And there's a lot of really amazing things that can happen as a result of that relationship that does develop, that's not going to happen if someone comes in one or two days a week. And they're not really connected to the team, it needs to be a reoccurring thing. You know, we even incorporated a daily update to the team, which I talk about heavily in my program.

But that's a whole nother subject for another day. And like the daily update to the team came from me, the operator, not the CEO, I let the CEO alone, I let him do what he needed to do. And it was my responsibility to keep the team moving forward. With that, though, I mean, there is a role for a fractional CFO, I won't, I can't discount that I do see a role now that I've done quite a bit of research on it, I just don't think it's the first step. I think it's maybe step five or six down the road. You do you want to have someone in that seat working on it day to day. And then you can bring in a fractional CEO, oh, during a good growth period. Like say you're trying to expand the size of your team. By to like you're doubling the size of your team, you're in a big project where you're need to increase capacity. With that comes increased bureaucracy that you need to have on the team.

A CEO can really help on that a fractional CEO, because they been in that position before. They know the systems that are needed at the next step, your operator might not always know that a fractional CEO could. So they can really help in those circumstances when you're in a growth phase. And you do need that extra capacity, that additional oversight, just to make sure you're doing things the right way. We start to get into that weird things that have to happen with companies where you can get away with a whole lot of stuff when you're a small team. You know, in teams of three to five, you can get away with a ton without having like HR stuff, right? But as you start to grow into an organization, you need to have additional bureaucracy in place. If it were me today having to do that I probably hire a fractional CFO to come in and tell me what I don't know. And to help push me in that direction maybe helped build some of that infrastructure. Because I'm going to be involved in the day to day that's what your operators really going to be doing. Keep doing is stay involved. Keeping the company moving forward. There's day to day that day to day churn. And a fractional CEO can Come in, and really help see the rest of the forest and go, Okay, everything's going good here, here's where we're going next.

So we need to build this out to have these functions available on the team, so things can continue to move forward. So yeah, the final thing I really say is that, you know, our companies are a culture, our companies have a personality unto itself. What you often find is that with a full time operator role on your team, the operator is really going to be a big part of that culture, they're going to be a big part of what drives the team forward, and what keeps the team moving together. And all on the same page. A coach of mine once said, that the CEO is the intellectual leader of the organization and inspirational leader, you know, they cast the vision, they are helping to keep everyone inspired, motivated, moving forward, that's really what they do. And we need them to stay in that in that role. As the operator, the operator is the emotional leader of the team. The operator is the person that people turn to when they have questions. When they're feeling frustrated, when things come up, that they don't know how to handle when they have personal issues, our people, our people, let's never forget that it's never allow ourselves to forget that, yes, we hire employees, we bring people on to do work for us. But I've said this repeatedly, if we just remember, we're in the people business first, like you will never be wanting, if you approach business from that perspective, you will always see opportunities, see ways to keep people on board. Because employees are a lot like customers. We all know the old adage, that it's it's far cheaper to keep a an existing customer than it is to find a new customer. It's the same way with your team, it's far easier to keep a team member than it is to find a new one and have to do all the training to bring them on board, get them into the culture, get them comfortable with the team, get the team comfortable with them. The whole nine yards or teams are, you know living breathing beings in their own right, treat them as such, allow an operator to come in as a full time capacity, really own that job.

Challenge them in certain ways. And, again, that's something I go through deeply inside of, of my course. But start with the idea of bringing someone on full time giving them the keys to the castle, so to speak, and getting them trained up to really run that team, give them agency. And I'm telling you, you won't be you won't be disappointed by what that allows you to do as a CEO, running a growing company, having someone just managing that part of it, keeping things off your desk, keeping the trains running on time, you're not going to regret bringing that person on in a full time capacity. And I say that as someone that did that for several years. And I know what it did for our company. We were able to go from just under seven figures, to multiple seven figures. In just a couple of years. It did not take us long once we really had our operational constructs worked out and firing on all cylinders.

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