Manager as a Service – startup advice

startup-signStartups are always in the look for new talent to join their mission to conquer the world. Interim managers are the latest secret weapon for some.

What to do when you are starting operations in a new country? Recruit a local country manager, get outside help or do it yourself by relocating?

Sometimes the answer is to do all those selectively and in a sequence. Entering a new market requires getting to know the local habits, business environment and customer segments. All this takes time, effort and money.

The manager as a service hack is to hire an experienced local interim manager to get your operations started. From day one you have access to local business networks, clients, funding sources and an expedited route to have your operations up and running.

Interim managers are seasoned business people who love to get things done. They focus on results. They attitude towards work is all startup – no-nonsense and every minute counts. Interim managers can be deployed for a specific role or time period.

Where to find them? The best way is to ask around. High valued and sought after people are often busy working. Some work together with accelerators or other programs. Investors, lawyers and other entrepreneurs are good sources to get tips. Usually interim managers have local associations or LinkedIn groups. The Finnish group was formed in August. There are also interim agencies that can find you suitable candidates.

How to pick the right candidate? First, it’s important you have defined a clear objective and deliverables for the assignment. What are the things you want to achieve? It’s good to consider hiring an interim as an investment. There needs to be a proper return on investment. And as a project it has a beginning and end. Sounds simple but in a startup environment one thing tends to lead into other and the focus and needs shift along the way.

After defining the scope it’s time to find suitable candidates that have the required expertise and references. You don’t want to pay for someone to do things for the first time. Getting results from the day one is the key here. That’s what you’re paying for. Make sure you interview some of the interim’s previous clients. Are they happy and would they select the same person again?

Interims don’t work in an isolated environment. They need your organisation’s support and resources. It’s paramount that they have the backing of the decision makers behind them. Also, shoestring budget does not mean that everything should be done without costs. A realistic budget for the project is a definite must. Magic tricks are just that – tricks. Interims are no rainmakers even though they can do wonders with their expertise and experience.

What’s the catch? Interims are your hired hands. They are fine for a defined project or objective. You don’t want to use them for a long term or permanent role. It’s just too expensive. Flexibility and experience cost but sometimes that’s an investment worth making. The opportunity cost can be worse either in lost time, opportunities or money. Lean startups are about trials and errors. It’s better to pivot quickly but it’s even better to avoid some pitfalls and false turns in the first place.

You may also want to read this report from Barclays, which talks about the talents engagement challenge. The infographics below is from the report.


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