Role of an SME CEO


As CEOs of our SME setups we often (or rather always) find a large gap between what we (as CEOs) should invest our time on and what we ultimately end up doing. Through this small write-up, I am sharing my views on where should a CEO of an SME spend his time on and how can he ensure this balanced distribution.


A) Four Levels of Management:

Broadly, the 4 levels of management are as follows such that they form a pyramid (triangle) with Governance layer at the top and 'Operations' at the bottom.

1) Governance
2) Management
3) Administration &
4) Operations


In single-person organizations, the owner/proprietor alone has to address all these 4 layers such that most of his time is spent on 'Operations' and the time required to be spent reduces over layers above. However, practically, many such entrepreneurs may commit a mistake of getting too much caught up in Operations & Administration with no time left for higher layers leaving these unaddressed most of the time. This results in such entrepreneurs always being in 'Execution Trap' with no time left for strategic & tactical considerations. The result of this imbalance over a period of time is obvious.


For entrepreneurs who have teams, responsibility of different leaders in the hierarchy span across one or more layers. Here, the entrepreneur must ensure that he spends most of his time on Governance & Management and leave the layers below to his 2nd & 3rd line managers. Here, a mistake that an entrepreneur often commits inadvertently is to 'creep' into his next line's scope of duties and spend a lot of time on lower layers thus creating overlapping responsibilities. At even more basic level, most entrepreneurs heading decent sized teams do not create strong 2nd & 3nd line managers thus ending up handling all the layers above Operations and additionally carrying a lot of opertional load too.


B) CEO's Focus Areas:

To ensure a balanced distribution, a CEO should focus only on the following w/o getting caught in transactional activities:


- Systems & Processes (Setting up & maintaining)
- Oversight (through suitably designed dashboards)
- Intervention (where team may require guidance and support and/or where things seem to be headed in the wrong direction)
- Control (through effectively designed control systems)


Kindly share your views too!!


Warm Regards,
Vikrant Vartak

MD – The Senate Business Center
Founder - Mavens

Indirect Marketing


We all have been witnessing over the last few years that business organizations (small or big) are becoming highly aggressive in sales, marketing & promotion activities. All media, including FB & WhatsApp, is being used ‘to the hilt' so much so that receivers (& not all of them are your prospects too!) are getting annoyed and tired of you pushing them ‘hard’ for sales and with information which may not mean much to them (e.g. your achievements, laurels etc etc)! Despite all this undesired ‘pushing’, the effort doesn’t bear fruit as the receivers (including your target customers) are getting increasingly immune to all this extensive (& intrusive) ‘noise’ (because you are not the only on doing so). It may even result into a negative image being created.


In such a scenario, ‘Indirect Marketing’ would help you pierce this noise/clutter. For the sake of clarity, indirect marketing is any form of marketing that doesn’t try to sell something directly to consumers, but rather allows businesses to build relationships with them. Easy examples of this can include social media, blogging, or newsletters. However, stronger examples would be (1) some construction house running a free ambulance service, (2) some business organization carrying out an event (say a polyclinic conducting a free eye check-up camp) which adds value or contributes in some ways to society at large (or the target market specifically too). At The Senate Business Center, we carry out a lot of Entrepreneurship Development activities free-of-charge like Talk Shows, Study Tours, Knowledge Sessions (known as 'Essentials for Entrepreneurs series), educational movies, Networking Sessions etc.


A good indirect marketing effort will get you noticed and induce people to know more about you w/o you having to ‘push’ your way through. The fact that you are adding value to them will help create some relationship or at least some goodwill for you.


Well known social media evangelist Mahesh Murthy says "Your marketing IQ is inversely proportional to your marketing budget!" I am sure smart entrepreneurs like us can think and discover many ways to ‘indirectly market’ our organization/product/service :-)!


Warm Regards,
Vikrant Vartak
MD – The Senate Business Center
Founder - Mavens