Critical People

Sep 18, 2015

1477789_10152791298915678_4946862984534976341_nThough most everyone on your team is important, there are 4 major positions that no successful firm can do without.

Managing your business effectively means the business grows, makes a profit, and has good employees at all levels. It really is as much an art as it is a science. If you’re the leader of an enterprise, you have a responsibility to manage it. The buck stops with you: If the business isn’t successful it’s your fault, period. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that, if you want to win the battle of business, you need to have the right people around you. Here are a few of the critical roles that have to be filled with strong people in order for you to succeed. Please don’t get hung up on the titles – each is followed by a description of what this person actually does:
  • CFO/Business Manager. This is one of the most critical people to your business. A strong CFO is much more than an accountant or controller – not just a historian – this person should positively impact all areas of the business. They’ll find ways for your business to make more from less. They’ll help keep you out of trouble by looking ahead. They’ll do all the things that no one else wants to do, has time to do, or is willing to do. They are a source of general business knowledge and can help tackle any problem the firm is facing. Finance, accounting, policy, board meetings, contract review, projections, ownership transition, and much more fall into this person’s domain. He or she should be one of your right-hand men – or women.
  • COO/Director of Operations. I see this person as your successor in-waiting. They run the line organization. That’s where all the money is made – it’s what the firm does for a living. This is one of, if not the, most important people in the firm. They should serve as a role model for all the other “doers” and managers of doers. An effective COO makes sure the business is doing the right things for the right clients and is making a profit in the process. He or she is also a great developer of people and an outstanding communicator who can jump in and solve any project- or client-related problem. If the CFO is your right-hand person, your COO is your left hand.
  • CMO/Director of Marketing. Yet another extremely critical individual to have on your top management team! Your CMO should be working to make your firm a top brand in whatever markets you serve. If they are doing their job, there should be more and better opportunities coming to the firm every single day. They set the stage, keep you in the limelight, and make every single thing you do look good to the clients you want to serve and the public at-large. Proposals, documents, brochures, direct mail, tradeshows, e-marketing campaigns, PR, original research, marketing database, photography, website, and much, much more are all managed and lead by your CMO/director of marketing. A really creative person here, who will also roll their sleeves up and do real work, is invaluable to you.
  • CIO/CTO. This person is so important, but not every CEO realizes just how important. He or she will keep you technologically in tune with the times – critical for your marketing, attracting and retaining top talent, and ability to work efficiently. The truth is, a really good CIO/CTO will give you a real competitive advantage over your competitors. On top of that, IT spending is a significant chunk of your potential profits, and it has to be managed or can easily get out of control. Your systems allow your people to communicate, facilitate working across a multi-office company, help reduce lost work, and increase institutional knowledge. All critical for your success!
There are plenty of other people who are crucial to your success. But these four are among your most critical. Choose them wisely. Nurture them. Counsel them. Seek their counsel. Reward them. They will reward you with a successful company. MARK ZWEIG is founder and CEO Zweig Group. Contact him at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.