A main need of companies in No Man’s Land is to build an experienced management team that can take the business where it needs to go. An entrepreneur must create and delegate to a high functioning management team responsibility to build processes, systems and culture to drive growth toward scale. We asked Newport partners to draw on their experience as CEOs and senior executives: what are successful practices you have seen (and what are pitfalls to be avoided) in defining executive roles and then selecting, onboarding, incentivizing, overseeing and rewarding members of the top team?
Emerging growth companies sometimes look to bring in a fractional COO, CFO, CMO or other executive on a part-time basis. This is typically an experienced resource that the company couldn’t afford or couldn’t make use of as a full-time employee. The intent is that he or she will provide strategy and direction—and give way to a full-time person or step up to a full-time position after the company has grown. But—companies that do this have many other needs and priorities. In what kind of situation does it make sense for a growing company to use its scarce resources to bring in a fractional executive?
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What Human Resources policies and practices will help emerging growth companies get the most productivity and value out of their people? All entrepreneurs would acknowledge the principle that the success of their enterprise depends on the performance of their employees. But many entrepreneurs still find reasons to put human capital issues in the back seat. They may think that the kind of employees they want are motivated simply by the challenge and excitement that comes with building an innovative business model or technology. Or that the chance to get in on the ground floor of what might one day be a big company that pays high salaries is sufficient to energize their work force. They might say that they don’t have the resources to support rigorous processes such as providing feedback on employee performance. They may worry that such performance reviews will create an expectation for raises that the company can’t afford. And some entrepreneurs may--rightly or wrongly--associate formal HR processes with big, bureaucratic organizations--the opposite of what they want their company to be.
It’s easy for companies to pinch pennies when cash is short. But when business gets good it’s natural that controls over discretionary spending are relaxed, which can lead to wasteful practices that eventually threaten profitability. How have you seen executives keep operations lean and avoid wasteful spending--even when the company is doing well?
What are some inexpensive best practices you have seen that companies can use to train their sales force and keep them informed about product strategy and market trends? How do they generate collaboration between sales folks who often tend to be competitive with each other?
Every entrepreneur worries about losing their good people. There usually isn’t enough stock or options to tie in everyone you don’t want to lose—and even those mechanisms don’t always work as planned. How have you seen companies try to retain key people—even when these folks might be targeted by competitors?