You’ve probably heard me talk about becoming an “Integrator” for some incredible businesses over the last few months. It’s been such an exciting pivot in my business – to be able to use my knowledge of daily systems, goal setting, and my personality to help other entrepreneurs chase and reach their goals. Today, I thought it might be helpful to talk about what exactly an Integrator is and why you need one!
What IS an “Integrator”?
To really understand WHAT an integrator is, we have to talk about where these terms came from. One of my favorite books for small businesses, Rocket Fuel, introduced the terms: visionary and integrator. Visionaries are exactly what they sound like! They’re typically your CEOs, the people who founded the business and have the vision for their business and team. An “Integrator” is the person who is managing the operations of the business and figuring out how to accomplish all of those big plans and goals. Think of it this way: visionaries build the car and integrators keep it running.
Visionaries & Integrators are vital for businesses that have 35+ employees … but just because you might not have that many doesn’t mean you can glean insight from this dynamic combo!!!
There’s actually a FREE quiz you can take online (take it here!) and your results might surprise you!!
I scored 56 for visionary and 92 for integrator. So, I think I’m right where I need to be! I joke that I’ve been an integrator without a visionary for much of my small biz journey! Do I have vision? Yes. Do I want to be passionate about the vision of the brand? YES! But I LOVE the moving pieces… what it takes to GET to the vision… so much more than vision-casting itself! I want to be in the weeds making a game-plan *based* on the vision, and watching the team bring it to life!!
Think of it this way…
Another way to think of the visionary/integrator duo would be the CEO and the General Manager. The Integrator would be the title “General Manager” and the Visionary is the CEO.
The General Manager is in the weeds every day with the employees – problem solving, understanding company culture and making sure the business operates well. The GM has a pulse on the day-to-day and is able to judge capacity — can the team tackle a new project? is a new hire necessary? are all the team to-do’s pointing in the same direction (is marketing working together with operations, etc.)?
On the other hand, the CEO is focusing on BIG PICTURE stuff. Constantly asking: What’s next? What’s new? The CEO should be staying innovative and focusing on big picture problems within the industry as a whole and making key networking partnerships + relationships. The CEO is usually the FACE of the brand and therefore focusing heavily on things ONLY the CEO can do.
I mentioned before that a V/I combo is necessary for a biz with 35+ employees… but what about SMALL businesses? What about yours?
There will come a point in the life of the company where YOU (the CEO) cannot be BOTH the “big picture” girl AND the “in the weeds” girl. A Visionary / Integrator duo is so powerful because BOTH people are vital for biz structure — you NEED to have a vision AND make the vision happen … but ONE person doing BOTH is exhausting. (Can I get an amen?!)
Maybe you have LESS than 35 employees and you’re already feeling the pull of wearing all the hats … if that’s you, keep reading for a little more insight on WHEN to know if you should hire an integrator and WHAT to do if you’re not quite there yet…
How do you know if you need an Integrator?
Honestly, the first thing I’d recommend is to take the quiz (here!) and determine if you’re a Visionary or Integrator. Like me, you might even be surprised with the results.
Next, read Rocket Fuel (grab it on Amazon here!) and assess if having an Integrator on your team resonates you. You have to be ready in more ways than one to bring someone on your team. It’s not JUST about financially being about to expand your team… but also the aspect of control. Are you ready to let someone else lead, manage, and integrate your team?
The next question is whether or not you have several team members already. If you do, are you operating within your own areas and looking for someone to bring them together? Are all of you operating in “silos” and you’re ready for ONE person to bring them all together – to fluidly INTEGRATE the major functions of the business? If that’s the case then YES you might be ready to bring on an integrator – whether that’s several hours per week or a larger position. Remember, an Integrator doesn’t have to be full-time. I personally serve as a fractional integrator for several brands. (Fractional being part-time for both; a “fraction” of my time is with them). You may just need someone to help out a fraction of the time and that’s an option, too!
If the above doesn’t sound like you because you’re a solopreneur who’s in a season where you’re wearing ALLLLL the hats (Visionary AND Integrator especially), I’ve got some help for you! You might not be ready to bring on a fractional or full time integrator, and that’s okay!
Focus on getting a weekly schedule in place that will allow you to wear both hats and wear them well. I LOVE using Trello to help me organize my week, and you can learn all about that HERE! By planning + prepping your week you’ll be able to manage your TIME and therefore manage the ROLES you are planning (Visionary + Integrator) well!!
You should also be planning quarterly for your business so you know what goals you’re going after – and making plans to make that possible. Seriously, I found that planning my business in 90 day increments was A GAME CHANGER! This allows you to BE the visionary over the 90 day period and also INTEGRATE a game-plan to GET THINGS DONE during that timeframe!!
Still need a little guidance on the integrator + visionary combo in your biz? I offer integrator consulting! I step in to help you get systems, operations and an overall company structure in place to allow you to either (a) help you effectively continue to be visionary & integrator until you’re ready to hire or (b) set you up TO hire!! Additionally, I also offer fractional integrator services to visionaries who ARE ready to bring on an integrator! Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to chat more about this! I’d love learn more about the ins & outs of your business structure & see if I can help! 🙂
Here’s a few more integrator resources:
- My interview with Davey and Krista on the Brands that Book podcast
- Amy Porterfield’s Podcast interview with her integrator
- Rocket Fuel book (a must read!!!)
What else do you want to know about integrators or the V/I duo? Comment below! I’ve got more education in the pipeline about this and would love to be sure I answer your questions!
I’ve got 2 FREE Trello boards for you!! Grab them below!