The Small Business Leadership Dilemma

February 05, 2019


A common challenge for small businesses is finding the right leadership resources for key roles. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You need accomplished leaders and/or a specific expertise but can’t afford it right now.

  • You need to upgrade or improve company leadership in a key area.

  • You need immediate expertise and can’t wait for the typical long recruiting and placement cycle. Your business needs help right now, not 6 months from now.

One of the business functions most commonly impacted by this dilemma is technology. Technological capability can be a great strength and advantage for companies, but it can also be very costly and damaging if it’s not properly executed. Poor technology decisions can leave a business leader struggling to play catch-up and paying for very costly missteps.

Fortunately, there are firms that offer a great option to address these challenges, in the form of virtual or fractional leadership that contract on an as-needed basis.

In this article, we’ll focus on the solutions available to solve constraints for your technology leadership, but it’s important to note that similar solutions are also available for marketing, sales, human resources, and other core business operations areas.

Let’s review some common scenarios business leaders may face, and outline how working with a fractional or virtual leadership firm can help:


Often small businesses start out just hiring someone to support their PCs, network, phones, and basic technology operations. As the business grows, a higher level of expertise and strategic thinking is needed. Your business needs resources and expertise, but you can’t afford to pay the cost of a high-quality full-time Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Fortunately, there are firms that can provide a fractional/virtual Chief Information Officer that has the right expertise at a fraction of the price of a full-time employee. Whether you need them onsite 2 hours a week or 40 hours a week, these firms can tailor their services to fit your specific needs and budget. You get the expertise you need, when you need it, and at a cost that fits current business. This approach can save a business more than $100,000 per year over hiring a full-time employee.

Better fit

Imagine that your business needs expertise for a very critical decision, a specific initiative, or a peak demand period, and/or to help you ensure your technology organization and technology investments are appropriate for your goals. However, whatever expertise you pay for, it must be affordable and a great fit for your specific needs. Fractional/contracted leadership is a perfect solution for these situations. You get to work with someone who has the specific expertise and experience you need for your challenge, but instead of paying a full salary, you only pay for advice as needed.  

Don’t settle for less

Too often, companies settle for a department leader that lacks the correct experience and/or expertise just because they feel that they can’t afford a better fit. Whether you are recruiting for a new leader, or evaluating a current leader in your organization, don’t settle for less. Remember the old business saying, “The resources that brought you to this point probably aren’t the right ones to take you to the next level.”  While you greatly appreciate the efforts of the personnel that helped you get the business started, you need to improve the caliber of leadership in order to be successful.

If you find yourself in this scenario, it may be time to consider engaging a technology leadership expert or firm that can provide the best talent for your company’s specific needs, while also staying within your budget. Don’t just settle. Instead have the right, proven, accomplished expert on your team. It will make a big difference.  

Need immediate expertise and can’t wait

Business leaders may find themselves in need of advice, but they can’t wait the 6+ months necessary for a full recruiting and placement cycle. In the fast pace of today’s market, that six-month period represents the potential for a lot of missed opportunities or missteps. Fortunately, there are firms that provide world-class expertise to address your needs immediately. Instead of waiting through the grueling 6+ month process of a traditional recruiting process, you can make meaningful and informed decisions quickly.  

David vs. Goliath

You need high-quality expertise to compete with your larger competitors. They may have larger budgets, but when you apply this innovative leadership approach, you can take advantage of world-class leadership talent with a far more affordable and agile approach. The best talent at a significantly lower cost: that’s how David conquers Goliath.

Savvy business leaders are now tapping into this new approach and using it to their advantage, as it quickly allows them to access proven experts that are tailored to their specific business needs and budget. Evaluate your improvement opportunities and determine whether your business may benefit from this better approach.  

Topics: Technology

Mark Johnson

President of Xtrii, and Global Technology Advisor

Mark Johnson is a global technology advisor with more than 30 years of successful business results. His experience includes roles as a global Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and innovative, business leader for organizations ranging from $15 Billion+ and 100,000+ employees, to small, fast-paced, rapid-growth companies. Mark currently serves as President of Xtrii (, an executive-level, technology consulting firm that works with C-level executives to provide proven technology leaders that help them address their most pressing technology challenges and risks. He has worked with companies to achieve extraordinary success that is globally recognized for technology excellence, such as the 4-time repeat winner of the national award for the best Information Technology organization, the national “Innovator of the Year” award, and Microsoft’s “Global Technology Innovation” award. Mark has been featured in Bloomberg Business Week, Computerworld Magazine, CIO Magazine, and many other national publications. He is a frequent keynote speaker and technology advisor on how companies can best leverage technology for optimal business outcomes.
Read more articles from Mark Johnson

Guide to Business Borrowing

Learn what banks are looking for when they prepare to make loans. Our guide covers what business owners need to know when they prepare to borrow.


Download eBook