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What value external support provides to SME’s CEO?

In the dynamic world of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), CEOs often need to wear multiple hats. To navigate this multifaceted role effectively, external help can provide substantial value across various domains.

This blog post is part of the series “SME CEO and external support” which compiles thoughts from Aamu Partners’ Tuomas Paananen and CEO CF’s Tony Wood. Aamu Partners is a company assisting SME CEO’s to reach their goals and grow their shareholder value. CEO CF is a forum where selected leaders collaborate to build trust, share insights, learn from others’ experiences, and develop into respected leaders in society and their organisations.


Leverage outside experience: Even though the external help might not be expert on your company or not even expert of the specific industry in advance, the external help might have extensive experience in other specific subjects or business situations. Business consultants most likely have faced dozens of times business situations that most companies only face once or twice, like internationalisation, seeking funding, or company restructuring. 


“The SME CEO is most likely seasoned professional in his own industry and an expert on how to run the specific company, but they might never have gone through a major investing round or M&A process.“

– Tuomas Paananen

Expanding Through Networks: These experts often have extensive networks that can be leveraged to foster partnerships, secure funding, or identify new customer bases. Access to a wider network can also serve as a recruitment pool for talent, increasing a company’s credibility and attractiveness to potential investors.


“Expanding through networks allows CEOs to tap into a wide range of expertise and experience. Networking with professionals from various industries can provide valuable insights and different perspectives on business challenges and opportunities. You can reach new networks through consultants, but it is really beneficial to be a part of a community that can also provide expertise and experience. Like CEO CF.”

– Tony Wood


CEO Personal Advancement: A coach or mentor specifically for the CEO serves as a dedicated resource to enhance leadership skills, offering personalised advice and challenging the CEO’s assumptions to refresh thinking. This one-on-one relationship allows for a deep dive into personal and organisational development.


“CEOs can buy a coach for a specific need, like mental or physical health, organising workload etc. A peer mentor is usually not for a specific need, but provides more widely support and insights”

– Tony Wood 


Valued Decision-Making Input: As outsiders with no operational responsibilities, these advisors act as a sounding board for ideas, helping in the generation of alternative solutions and sharpening decision-making processes. Their objective viewpoint can challenge the status quo, supporting CEOs in weighing options with a clear, unbiased perspective.


“An objective perspective, specialised expertise, and experience across a diverse array of scenarios are invaluable assets often not readily available in-house. Seeking these qualities through external consultants not only enriches the decision-making process but also proves to be a resource-efficient approach.”

– Tuomas Paananen

Enhancing CEO Performance: The combination of challenging and supporting the CEO, coupled with strategic input, ensures that the CEO is not operating in an echo chamber. Instead, they receive critical feedback that can lead to innovative approaches and strategic pivots, which are necessary for the agile environment of SMEs.


“Our job as consultants is not to tell the CEO what to do, but unleash the full potential of the CEO’s management and leadership skills, and grow the shareholder value with them.”

– Tuomas Paananen

The Takeaway: For an SME, investing in outside help for its CEO is not an expense; it’s a strategic move toward growth, innovation, and resilience. The support enriches the CEO’s capability to lead with vision and influence, driving the company to new heights.



Read more from our blog post series: 


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