When you’re at the point where you’ve maxed out on growth and you know you need to hire someone… but you’re not quite sure who or what that role should be, an integrator is probably the way to go.
An integrator is your #2, someone who compliments your skill set. An Integrator is there not to take orders, but to anticipate what you need and help you grow.
Integrators can have a huge impact on your business by taking tasks and projects off your plate, so you can focus on growing your business or delivering better service to your clients.
Here are the top 5 ways that an integrator can positively impact your business -- and why that’s the right role to hire.
#5 -- Money, Money, Money
When you’re going it alone, you’re almost guaranteed to hit the scale ceiling. At some point, you’ll hit a point where you won’t be able to do everything you need to do alone. To keep growing, you’ll need to bring someone else in to share the load.
BUT… you don’t want to bring in a VA or bookkeeper or lower-level employee because you’ll go from spending your time doing to spending your time managing/training/teaching them how to do the things. If you go that path, you’re just moving the overwhelm from one area to another and you’re not actually gaining any freedom or time.
At this stage, an integrator will get you the biggest bang for your buck. A good integrator is an experienced project manager, someone who’s seen the good, the bad and the ugly and dealt successfully with it. Integrators are natural problem solvers, who are always working to streamline and turn decisions into processes. They’re self-directed, so they will do what needs to be done without you having to manage them or be on top of them all the time.
With an integrator, you get the benefit of someone who is experienced at running successful, streamlined businesses, who just knows what needs to happen (maybe better than you do) and can get the job done and actually take things off your plate.
The best integrators will help you fill in your weaknesses and can advise you for your business. Where a VA or bookkeeper will just send your invoices, your integrator may advise you on automated bookkeeping systems and higher-level financial/cash flow strategies or suggest different processes and software to make the entire company more efficient -- and ultimately more scaleable. That doesn’t just save you money and make you more profitable, it makes you more money in the long term.
According to a study conducted by Xero of small business owners, small businesses who work with an advisor are 23% more profitable than businesses that don’t. The right integrator, with the right background and experience, can serve as that trusted advisor, and ultimately drive more profitable growth.
#4 -- Process & System Improvements
If you’ve grown your business to the point where you’re considering an integrator, chances are you’ve got some processes that are part of how you do business.
When I’m talking here about ‘process’, I’m talking less about specific checklists or documentation, and more about process as a general framework for how things happen. So, you do have a process -- it might be shitty and ill-defined, but you’ve got something.
Before working with an integrator, your “process” for onboarding a new client might look like this:
- Send proposal for signature, then forget to confirm it actually got signed
- Send out ACH form for payment, then chase the client to get it completed
- Braindump what you think needs to get done in Asana
- Send welcome email -- unless you forget
- Coordinate kickoff call -- and hope you remember to get the right team members on the invite
- Worry about what you forgot to do
An integrator can come in and clean all that up. They can help you define what your process should look like -- incorporating best practices or ideas that they’ve seen other businesses succeed with. And then they can help turn that ideal workflow into an actual system -- something that makes sure all those moving parts and pieces actually happen.
When you work with an integrator, that process will look more like this:
- Send proposal for signature and payment collection before work starts
- Send information to the accounting system, automatically (including future payments)
- Automatically set up the project (including milestones, tasks, to-dos) in your project management system
- Assign team members to the right pieces of the project, confirm their availability
- Automatically send a welcome email and client welcome gift with a link to coordinate the kickoff call (when everyone can be involved)
- Automatically set up folders on Google Drive, with the right template docs already there
Creating and documenting rock-solid processes (and making sure they're followed) is one of the biggest benefits of hiring an integrator.
#3 -- Sounding Board/Trusted Advisor
Companies that work with an advisor or mentor survive at more than twice the rate that companies that don’t. The right integrator, with the right background and experience, can be that advisor.
Your Integrator is someone who is intimately familiar with the nitty-gritty details of your business -- but who brings the benefit of having worked with businesses just like you before. They’ve seen it all, seen what works and what doesn’t, and are perfectly equipped to bring some different perspectives to the table. They may even give you some ideas you might not have considered otherwise.
This is particularly true if you’re working with an outsourced or fractional integrator. They have experience with operating multiple businesses and in multiple industries and may have seen similar challenges in other businesses.
The advice they can give you will be tailored to your business and the challenges they know you’re facing because they’re in the thick of it with you.
If you’re trying to figure out how to scale, they can give you advice based off what they’ve seen in the stats about your business or even proactively approach you with ideas about how to scale or where holes in the process might be.
#2 -- Stay in your Zone of Genius
I’ve talked about this before, but the impact of this really can’t be overstated. When everyone is operating from their own Zone of Genius, the team can create exponential results.
Since the Integrator’s Zone of Genius is operations, they make you feel better and help you drive better results for your clients because you’re not trying to do your work and run operations at the same time.
Imagine going to work (aka walking 6 feet to your home office) and not having to send that client invoice. Imagine not having to slog through emails or tie up all kinds of loose ends before you get to the best part of your day -- doing the thing you love to do? Imagine just walking in, opening up your laptop, and getting to work.
You focus on what you do best with confidence while knowing that you’ve got someone else out there focusing on doing what they do best -- making sure your business is running like a Swiss watch.
With an Integrator running your business, you can work with more clients, better clients and deliver better customer service and better results because you have best-in-class systems and processes, designed to deliver exactly what your clients need.
#1 -- Growth
When it comes to reasons to hire an integrator, this is really where you’ll see the biggest impact. As I said above, eventually you’ll max out and stagnate. Growth will flat-line or you’ll just get to the point where you can’t really concentrate on doing your best work because your head is just a running to-do list of stuff you can’t forget to do.
When that happens, the best hire you can make is an integrator. Coming in from the outside, they’ll have a fresh perspective and be able to quickly zero in on bottlenecks or holes in your processes. They’ll be able to recommend technology or simple fixes that can revolutionize your operations.
Integrators, by virtue of having experience you don’t, can help you plan for pitfalls, set realistic goals and adjust your course so you can scale without killing yourself and make smart decisions about who to hire, whether or not you need to hire or how to use your existing resources better.
Businesses who plan grow 30% faster than those that operate blindly. An integrator can be a key player in driving that growth, by ensuring that there is a plan and a strategy -- and then making that plan become a reality.