Save Costs by Employing a Virtual COO

Save Costs by Employing a Virtual COO

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Don’t we all wish we could have someone to help us manage our business successfully? The only problem is, people with that specific set of skills don’t come cheap, or do they?

Victoria Grulke, the founder of Firebird Futures, a Virtual Chief Operating Officer, shares with us the ins and outs of being a virtual COO (Chief Operating Officer), how she drives excellence and how employing a virtual COO can save costs for your business and take your business to the next level!

Where does the name “Firebird Futures” come from?
My nickname is “Firebird Warrior”, I have it tattooed in my arm, that’s what I’m known as in my personal life, so the name “Firebird Futures” stems from that. Firebird Futures was born out of the ideas I had which centred around creating brighter futures for people and enabling them to design their better futures.

The Virtual COO part is my main business and I help young entrepreneurs start and build their business the right way from day one. The aim is to get the foundational part of my clients’ businesses done correctly so they can focus on what they do best and fast track their journey to success. I also work with more established businesses as well as businesses that are having to pivot in times like COVID19, to help them design and deliver on a new future.

What does a Virtual COO do?
A COO (Chief Operating Officer) is the person that moves with the business depending on whatever it needs at any given time. If they’re in financial difficulty, maybe they’ll spend more time on finance, improving sales and the development of sales skills. If they’re people-related issues, the focus might turn to human resources to improve work ethic and communication skills in the workplace. COO is a very broad role that works across all areas of the business whether it’s people, finance, tech, project management or operations.

How do you make your virtual business work?
It’s important to be you and to be human because people want to do business with people. Don’t hide behind your brand, get yourself out there and be personable, whether it’s over Zoom calls or emails, just reflect who you are. Don’t be afraid to show how passionate you are and express your excitement.

Be transparent, honest, and deliver on your promises. If you make mistakes, own up to them and work together with your partners to resolve them. Business should be fun, so create those relationships and work together through the tough times, but remember to celebrate the good things as well. Often when working remotely, we forget to celebrate the wins, and the wins are important, no matter how big or small.

How do you do your research and preparation for a virtual meeting?
I do the obvious Facebook or LinkedIn “stalk”, so check out your potential clients, see what they’ve been up to, not just in their current job. Check what their path was like up until where they are today. Check for any common connections you may have with them.

If they’re starting their own thing, research the company that they’re working for or have just left, and compile a list of questions – Create a mental profile of someone you haven’t met yet. I’m very dependant on online resources, so that means social channels, business communities, and checking into my own network to see if anyone else knows the potential client, and perhaps chat to them to learn more.

Do you share your vulnerabilities to create a connection?
It’s about building partnerships, not just having a client/service provider relationship. I’m a business owner and I share my failures with my clients so they don’t have to make those failures themselves. I communicate openly about my journey from leaving corporate to becoming a small business owner and the anxiety around that. I’m constantly sharing my experiences with the people I’m working with.

How could employing a virtual COO be a cost-saving strategy for companies?
In a traditional sense, a COO comes with a large price tag if you were to bring them into your business full time. I believe no matter where you are in your life cycle, you should have access to this level of skill and experience, and it shouldn’t have to cost the world.

Do you share you vulnerabilities to create more of a connection?
It’s about building partnerships, not just having a client/service provider relationship. I’m a business owner and I share my failures with my clients so they don’t have to make those failures themselves. I talk very openly about my journey from leaving corporate to becoming a small business owner and the anxiety around that. I’m constantly sharing my experiences with the people I’m working with.

How could employing a virtual COO be a cost-saving strategy for companies?
In a traditional sense, a COO comes with a large price tag if you were to bring them into your business full time. I believe no matter where you are in your life cycle, you should have access to this level of skill and experience, and it shouldn’t have to cost the world.

Being a virtual COO allows me to run this global business under R2000 a month, so my overheads are much lower and I can offer my services for much less. It’s about embracing online and using the free tools that are available to manage your business whether it’s in the form of business planning, project management, social media, or from a content planning perspective, or automating your marketing efforts.

Do you have any methodologies regarding Marketing, Sales, HR, or Finance?
I would definitely try to put the customer first, I don’t initially try to go in with what I think should be done. I think the most important thing a business owner can do is to listen to your customer, whether you’re building a service or a product, because the customer has the answers to the questions you have and they help design your service or product.

This means you’re creating something that immediately has value that they will want to purchase, so I don’t have a set approach, except than to listen to the customer first and then embrace the tools that are available and are applicable to whatever you’re trying to achieve.

How long do you typically engage with a customer?
It varies, I have customers that are building their businesses from scratch, with whom I’ll chat with daily, and we’ll probably have a relationship for a couple of years, and then I have some customers that I’ll work with on a more short term basis like a couple of months. My business objective really isn’t to get entangled in your business but to empower people to do it themselves so i become obsolete.

How would potential customers engage with you?
Whatever their preferred method of communication is, they’re welcome to pick up the phone and call me or send me an email. Visit my website at www.firebirdfutures.com where you’ll find links to my social media. They can find me on any of the social platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram. We’ll get in touch and I’d usually set up an absolutely free consultation and we’ll brainstorm where they’re at.

Who is the ideal client for Firebird Futures?
Someone who’s got a clear idea of what they’re trying to achieve, they may not know how they’re going to get there but they may have a clear idea that has legs and that they’re fiercely passionate about and are willing to work hard in order to make it succeed, someone who’s open to new ideas and new ways of doing things would be my ideal client.

Done is the new perfect, now is the time to experiment, to fail, to try again. Everybody’s online so be brave, get out there and do it!

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