SMEs and startups have it tough. A sluggish economy, closer regulatory oversight, and acute talent shortage have made it rather challenging for smaller businesses to remain competitive. In order to succeed in such an environment, organizations need the right leadership and expertise to achieve their goals. However, good leaders don’t come cheap.

Especially when you’re operating under pressure from all quarters – investors breathing down your neck, retreating demand, and limited leadership experience across key business functions. So, what can you do?

The answer is simple – hire high level, on-demand executives. Virtual CXOs (vCXO) or part-time CXOs can be a valuable addition to an organization’s leadership team that need seasoned executives but cannot afford them. Specialized firms and business consultancies offer CXO services to help businesses acquire high-level functional expertise to manage and implement growth.

What are CXO Services?

CXO services are classified as a category of professional services designed to help small- and mid-market companies capitalize on the promise of interim leadership. Unlike a full-time executive, a CXO partner works part-time but brings the same credibility, expertise, invaluable experience and skills to the organization.

CXO services offer multiple executive roles/experts based on functional areas like HR, Finance, Operations, Growth, Marketing, and Legal. CXO partners have prior experience as full-time executives and typically bring strong domain expertise in one or more verticals. CXO partners are instrumental in helping businesses achieve their goals by leveraging existing talent and translating the business vision into reality through thoughtful execution.

A CXO partner’s key responsibilities include:
1. Operationalizing your business vision

2. Strategic resource allocation for continued value creation

3. Development and management of your functional strategy

4. Managerial & Strategic oversight

5. Talent acquisition and Talent Retention6. Knowledge management and Creating repositories

7. Establishing and measuring key performance indicators8. Planning and implementing Inter / Intra Function processes that support each step outlined above

Why Do You Need a CXO Partner?

Well, to put it bluntly, it all comes down to simple economics. A CXO partner is much more efficient than a full-time executive. Let’s look at some of the specific tasks carried out by CXO partners that help businesses thrive in the face of disruption:

1.Innovation management: While innovation is the hallmark of business success, it is often challenging to deliver. You need ideas to become ingrained in your organization’s people, culture and processes. A CXO partner can help you transform these ideas into reality the right way. Right from idea validation, business plan development, fund raising, team set up, proto-typing and product/service building, a CXO partner will have your back.

2.Business development: As a startup or a small business, customer acquisition is key to your growth. A CXO partner can help you pitch, close deals, and act on market intelligence to fuel your business. Your CXO partner will act as your CBO (Chief Revenue Officer ? ) and manage your business development needs while helping you focus on your core product or solution.

3.Operational excellence: Operations is where the rubber hits the road. Operational excellence is a critical your business’ ability to create business value. However, achieving competitive advantage through operational excellence is no simple matter. A CXO partner brings rigorous, repeatable /reproduce-able, and high-quality methods and frameworks adapted from best practices across the world to streamline your operations and in a fiercely competitive business landscape.

4.R&D management: Given the importance of innovation to business success, and even survival, you need technical insight, global awareness, and buy-in needed to create a culture of innovation. A CXO partner helps foster a climate of experimentation, oversee change management, and overcome employee resistance to establish a high-performance R&D function using digitization to remove manual touch points.

5.Product management: Line extensions and new product launches are what keep your business ticking. You are building your business to last. That cannot happen without constant improvement of your offerings. Your CXO partner will guide the management of your products and services to meet the evolving market demands and customer needs.

6.Process development/management: Process development lays the groundwork for profitability and process and operational excellence. A CXO partner streamlines and improves your existing processes, plan and execute trails and pilot projects, scale delivery, validate new processes, and advise on methods, tools and technologies to drive process changes for new product development initiatives.

7.Process transformation: Outdated, archaic processes are detrimental to a business’ health. CXO partners assess your current processes and operating procedures to drive continuous improvement and profitability. For instance, a CHRO partner can help you transform your performance management process to improve employee satisfaction and create bottom line impact. ( Reduce cost of attrition & subsequent Cost of replacement- Opportunity loss)

8.Project Management: The best of strategies can fail if not executed well. CXO partners can double up as managers for your most important projects. This could include something as simple as transitioning from a legacy system to a modern technology platform or time-bound, specific endeavors such as product launches or business expansion.

9.Interim Leadership: CXO partners also serve as interim leaders when you are on the lookout for a full-time executive. A CXO partner can help you set the tone and identify key areas for improvement by the time you get a permanent executive to come on board.

10.Strategic Planning: CXO partner helps you turn your business goals into reality by creating a functional roadmap that will help you attain your business objectives.

11.Reporting: Running a business can take your focus away from tracking the impact and performance of every business function. CXO partners establish reporting metrics and key performance indicators to provide you with deeper insights into the inner workings of your organization.If we cannot measure, we cannot Improve !

Chances are, as a startup founder or business owner, you manage many essential business roles yourself. Engaging a CXO services firm or a CXO partner can help you focus on your product or solution and leave the management to experts. What’s more? Most CXO services firms offer customized, tailor-made services for your business, giving you the flexibility to choose the duration of the commitment.

Partnering for Success: Choosing the Right CXO Services Firm for Your Business

While the right CXO partner can make life easier for you, partnering with the wrong firm can turn out to be significantly expensive. Therefore, you must understand how a CXO partner adds value to your business. Before firing a CXO services firm, it is important that you ask them these questions:

· What are Your Core Competencies as a CXO Partner? Most CXO services firm have specific areas of expertise and strengths. Some firms specialize in marketing and communications leadership while others focus on finance and operations. If you already know your business challenges, make sure that your CXO firm has expertise and proven experience in that area.

· Does the CXO Firm Have a Background in Finance? While finance is just one of the many functional areas CXO services can help you with, a strong background in finance is always desirable when you are looking to drive overall profitability and revenue growth. Moreover, you need financial expertise to create models and forecasts and develop business projections. This is crucial to analyzing and prioritizing the issue and opportunities facing your business from a leadership perspective.

· What Type of Flexibility Do They Offer? As a small business owner or founder you might need a combination of different CXO services. Your CXO firm must work with you to develop customized plans/scope for your needs. Flexibility is key.

Conclusion

CXO partners fill gaps in many C-suite roles and if your business is looking to establish or transform a department or function, a CXO partner can be the catalyst you need to drive next-level growth. Speak to us today or write to us at info@spiceroutefinance.com to learn more about CXO services.