The Access Economy – Not Just for Consumers Anymore

When you hear the term ‘access economy’—the model where goods are traded on the basis of access rather than ownership—you typically think of P2P or B2C applications, like Spotify, ZipCar, AirBnB, etc. Taking Spotify as an example, you have access to a vast music catalogue, not just the few songs you have decided to pay to download. In the access economic model you don’t have to buy every Adele, Drake, Taylor Swift or Bruce Springsteen MP3 or CD to have access to all of their songs that you like.

What’s really cool about the access economy model, and this example in particular, is that you can have access to everything but only consume what you want. For example, let’s say you only want to create a play list of all of Bruce’s power anthems from the early years and his most recent tour. Spotify makes that possible. Or you can just listen to Hotline Bling.

With the success of the access economy in the P2P and B2C markets, we are starting to see it become more prevalent in the B2B world as well. WeWork is a great example. With WeWork, you have access to Class A office space, administrative support and a number of other services within a shared “co-working” office environment. Like Spotify, you essentially pay for what you need.

Additionally, the access economy is spilling over into professional services. Specifically, the services of C-level executives on a part-time basis.

Most start-ups and small businesses already have their CEO or founder – often they are one in the same.  But they also need the skill and experience of a COO, CFO, CMO and any number of C-Level executives, just not on a full-time basis. Or, if they do want them on a full-time basis, the company can’t afford the salaries that a quality C-level professional would demand.

So, what options does that leave the small business/startup?

Option 1: The owner wears as many hats as possible—CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.—and does his or her best. Of course, this overextends the owner and limits his/her effectiveness.

Option 2:  Hire a company that offers these C-Level services on a part-time basis.

For the start-up/small business that has part-time needs for C-level executives, this works on a number of levels. First, it delivers the insight, knowledge and experience of a C-level executive at a fraction of the cost. So, if you need a CFO for about 20 hours a month, you’re not paying a six-figure annual salary for them to have little to do the rest of the time.

Where this concept gets really interesting is when it goes beyond simply hiring a part-time C-Level executive to include the executional resources that typically surround the C-Level executive. It is truly powerful for startups and small businesses when the C-level executive comes with the fully trained resources of a team to execute the strategy and all the tasks that go along with it. For example:

·         CFO supplies bookkeepers and/or Controller to work at the startup/small business to pay bills, process payroll and prepare financial statements.

·         CMO is paired with a graphic designer and copywriter to create company collateral marketing pieces.

·         CIO directs his/her own IT staff to review software systems and deliver a hardware solution.

So the end result is the small business/start-up has a complete solution—leadership, management and execution. And this is at a fraction of the price of hiring one or more of these parts on a full-time basis.

For the start-up/small business that requires full-time C-level executives but does not have the budget, this access economy principle offers a budget compromise without compromising quality. The company can engage the part-time C-level and his/her team for as much time as its budget will allow. Some of that time can be spent being a business partner to ownership and coaching up staff, bridging the skills gap to take them where they want to be.

Another advantage of the access economy model as it pertains to services is the flexibility and room for growth. The startup/small business will likely one day have the need to hire full-time C-level executives—or several. By utilizing the part-time model to retain the amount of services you need, you have a bridge from each level to the next as the company grows.

In an environment where company’s needs change constantly, the B2B segment of the access economy model allows you to have the quality, depth and breadth of support your company requires, with the flexibility to address very specific issues, in the most cost effective manner.

Operations: The Bridge to your Company Vision

As somebody who has spent time as a CEO, COO and VP of Operations, as an employee and a consultant, I am often asked: Exactly what do “operations” guys do? While the exact job description often varies, the last line is always the same: I am responsible for creating and managing the organization and process that makes the companies vision become reality, while optimizing the usage of resources.

More than one CEO or owner has asked me, “Isn’t that my job?”.  It’s a great question.

The answer is: probably not.

Almost every CEO/owner I have ever talked to has a primary skill: architect, tech guru, marketer, salesman extraordinaire or, almost never, operations. The reason for a COO in any size company is bridging vision and strategy into execution. This allows the CEO to focus on what they do best along, with the rest of the team.  This is why the list of responsibilities for the COO can vary based on the skill set and focus of the CEO.

Think about great executive teams: Gates/Ballmer, Jobs/Cook, and Zuckerberg/Sandberg.  Vision and execution. Could Jobs do what Cook did? No. Could Zuckerberg do what Sandberg does? Probably not.  Each of these CEO’s was different. Each had a complementary COO who helped them build success, manage change and achieve the vision.

In larger companies, the COO is a key figure in putting the pieces together to develop and grow the organization. While putting those pieces together, the COO must make sure everything runs smoothly, measuring and coordinating with the senior team across disciplines --sales, marketing, finance, etc-- to meet goals, objectives and standards for productivity.   

In a smaller organization, the COO generally works on a part-time basis, adding his or her perspective and experience to maximize the utilization of the two key resources in the company, time and money, maximizing runway and optimizing the value of the money spent. The complementary view of the business meeting those same standards.

Does that make the COO as important as the CEO?  Sometimes, but managing operations is definitely a unique and specific skill set and, more important, a way of looking at the business that adds value to any size business.

Martin Glover Joins Starter-Fluid, LLC

Martin Glover Joins Starter-Fluid, LLC

Aug 12, 2015

I am very excited to announce the addition of Marty Glover (  to Starter-Fluid team.  Marty is a seasoned executive who has helped technology and services businesses deliver results for over 25 years.  Marty will be leading the Starter-Fluid operations practice, focused on:

  • Operations Management
  • Business Planning
  • Sales Team Development
  • Establishment and Management of US Operations
  • Business Optimization
  • General Management

Marty brings a new dimension to the Starter-Fluid service offerings.  We can help your startup or small business with a broad set of services, including our accounting and finance services.  Let us know how we can help you ignite your business.

Please connect to Starter-Fluid here:  Starter-Fluid, LLC