SureSwift Capital Evolves Operations with Exceptional Operator Framework [2023]

The Exceptional Operator Framework is SureSwift's secret to running a lean, high performing organization.

SureSwift Capital is composed of an experienced leadership team and semi-autonomous, global Portfolio Businesses that include dedicated product leaders, go-to-market specialists, developers, marketers and customer success professionals. We are consistently focused on innovation and efficient growth, building and maintaining our portfolio, and recently we’ve evolved our operational strategy to better support our businesses.

Using what we’ve learned over the last seven years of business, past teams, 40+ acquisitions, our current 120+ remote team members, and the advice of numerous expert consultants, we’ve established a set of standards known as the Exceptional Operator Framework (EOF), so that we can more effectively manage the unique challenges that our Portfolio Businesses face.

Director of Operations, Jac Stark plays a key role in leading the development and execution of the Exceptional Operator Framework and its four pillars: Strategic Alignment, Best Practices, Performance Metrics & Accountability, and Continuous Improvement & Learning. Stark details the new SureSwift infrastructure and shares how it is already upgrading business processes across the entire company.

Can you tell us about your SureSwift Capital journey?

I came to SSC just over four years ago as a Community Manager for a media site we owned. SureSwift was still relatively young then, and I’ve loved watching it evolve and continually improve into the company it is today. Now, I work to ensure that our business leaders are supported and have what they need to excel at their businesses and reach their targets.

What is the structure of the Excellent Operators Framework?

The EOF is our secret sauce for running a lean, high-performing SureSwift going forward. Essentially, it’s how we function as a business, outlined through the collection of playbooks, programs, and policies that make up the culture at SureSwift Capital.

There are four core components: Strategic Alignment, Best Practices, Performance Metrics & Accountability, and Continuous Improvement & Learning. Together, they serve as reference guidelines to help our corporate team and Portfolio Businesses align, and maintain consistency in strategy and operations. They also accentuate the advantages of the semi-autonomous portfolio business model of today’s SureSwift Capital.

SureSwift Capital collects best practices and expert knowledge using the Exceptional Operator Framework

What sparked the creation of the Excellent Operators Framework? Can you pinpoint the origins of the idea and the evident need that led to its inception?

Our COO, John Austin, came up with the vision to pull together our learnings and best practices from years of experience and many acquisitions into a functional manual for operating profitable businesses. Discovering a shared need for cross-pollination among Portfolio Businesses, we recognized the constant learning within each entity. This led to the birth of the EOF—an initiative to establish a systematic process for disseminating these valuable insights organization-wide.

With our recent shift to a semi-independent portfolio business model, we needed an advanced approach to business operations with a greater focus on technical and operational excellence. So, we analyzed what we already had that was working and what we needed to update to become truly exceptional operators for our investors, teams, and customers.

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What sets this apart from the ordinary landscape of executive-level frameworks?

The EOF promotes clear, efficient, and successful decision-making while ensuring the right people are in the room. By aligning everyone with a common purpose and direction, we’re able to maximize the effectiveness of our whole operation.

Of course, most companies aren’t strangers to business frameworks, but our goal has been to design a system that provides unique solutions for an innovative business model. The result is unparalleled shareholder value and profitable growth. It’s different, because SureSwift Capital is different.

Unlike traditional VC firms who are looking to buy and rapidly accelerate growth or “flip” a business, we look at all of our acquisitions with a long-term lens. This means that we need structures in place to drive sustainable growth from day one, beginning with the types of businesses we acquire.

We aren’t on the hunt for unicorns or businesses in need of an overhaul. Our ideal acquisition candidate is already strong and growing, with a team of knowledgeable people that we can bring on with the product. This means we have a portfolio full of businesses that each have different teams and backgrounds at the time they join the SureSwift portfolio, necessitating  a unique approach to operations.

While many existing operational plans exist for emerging startups, mid-size SaaS companies, and large conglomerates, SureSwift doesn’t fit into any of those molds. We’ve designed the EOF to balance consistency with flexibility, allowing business leaders to do what they do best while ensuring accountability and visibility for results. The result is a unique framework that combines the best aspects of small, agile teams with the broad knowledge and support of a large organization.

With a global team, SureSwift uses the Exceptional Operator Framework to share knowledge and best practices.

SSC has put several strategic initiatives into play, including this playbook strategy. Can you explain you use playbooks to help our numerous acquired businesses flourish?

Yes! SureSwift uses documentation across Portfolio Businesses as a cornerstone of our success strategy. Our Knowledge Base is a rigorous collection of playbooks that includes guidance from our subject-matter experts and learnings from outside professionals. We take our research — from strategic initiatives to execution to optimization — and we use our findings to build the playbook Best Practices and policies. These methods have helped us capture the full measure of our protocols, within sales, product development, or many other functions.

The two main goals with the Excellent Operators Playbooks (EOP) are consistency and efficiency. This helps us to ensure seamless onboarding and training, while also fostering a culture of continuous improvement within the organization. They also set us up for adapting to market shifts more swiftly, scaling operations more easily, and maintaining customer satisfaction to the highest degree. And importantly, they help position us for long-term growth and resilience, even as we encounter an increasingly competitive SaaS ecosystem.

The EOF incorporates ‘Guilds’ Portfolio-wide. What are they and how do they work?

The Guilds at SureSwift were created as an employee resource for our mission of Continuous Improvement & Learning. They’re internal communities for people with similar skills to share knowledge across SureSwift Capital regardless of what Portfolio Business they work on. Meetings are held monthly to meet around a specific topic, and slack channels allow for the free flow of ideas amongst peer groups.

This virtual learning format encourages a commitment to growing their industry skills and knowledge. Teams are encouraged to embrace a mindset that values adaptability and measures success through a deliberate feedback loop. These interactive sessions also create ongoing dialogue across the Portfolio Businesses. So, not only is it a tool for professional development as we learn from each other, but it also helps us innovate within the different functions of SureSwift (business development, engineering, marketing etc.).

What are some of the key ways the EOF will support businesses through acquisition and transition? And what’s planned heading into 2024?

Our library of playbooks will be a primary resource for ensuring smooth acquisition and transition processes. In addition to laying out guidelines for our Portfolio Businesses, it also provides our current teams with a systematic process to learn from the businesses and teams that we acquire. As new businesses are integrated into SureSwift Capital, our framework will provide access to more structured business practices in everything from hiring to developing a growth marketing strategy. They’ll be able to share in the learnings that we’ve spent years mastering and spend more energy on driving the business to the desired outcomes.

Looking into the future of EOF, we’re going to be building out from Q2 2023 and beyond, leveraging existing work and practices. Our overarching goal is to refine our existing business operations system to support the Framework and provide better value.

Tell us how the EOF has enhanced how SureSwift does business?

The biggest impact the EOF has had so far on SureSwift is the way it highlights the shared purpose of our vision, mission, and values. Through our Strategic Alignment, we ensure that our leaders receive the support they need to lead happy teams, and operate profitable and secure businesses. Key aspects of this pillar are the weekly team strategy sessions where quarterly goals are set and reported on as well ongoing communication about the State of the Company.

Closely tied to strategic alignment is  Performance Metrics & Accountability. An example of this in action is our monthly Basecamp sessions. In these meetings, our business and corporate leaders come together to collaborate on business opportunities. These face-to-face discussions, along with daily asynchronous discourse, have built strong connections between SureSwift Capital and the Portfolio Businesses, while allowing our leaders to run their respective businesses autonomously.

This process fosters trust throughout our organization, and pushes us to redesign a collaborative approach, where our entire team is rallying for the success of the vision of SureSwift Capital.

What do you personally find the most beneficial part of the EOF initiative?

As we started building out the EOF, the feeling was similar to when you’re setting out to clean your closet, but then you realize that your whole house needs to be reorganized. So in this process, we took a step back and asked ourselves questions like, “What do we have? What do we need? And how do we optimize that for our team members?” And that led us to discover the most beneficial components of the EOF for ourselves and the organization.

Personally, I find that Strategic Alignment and the emphasis on a cadence of connection are the heart of the framework. Without every team member sharing the vision and mission, the vehicle can’t move forward. For me, it fuels my purpose in my role and allows me to connect with my team in a more meaningful and fulfilling way.

SureSwift Capital stands as a beacon of innovation and operational excellence in the business landscape. Our Exceptional Operator Framework (EOF), meticulously crafted with more than seven years of experience and 40+ acquisitions, sets us apart by providing a unique blend of consistency and flexibility. As we evolve and refine our operations, the EOF serves as the cornerstone of our success, promoting efficiency, strategic alignment, and continuous improvement.

If you’re inspired by our commitment to long-term growth, operational excellence, and the unique approach we bring to the table, we invite you to explore the current opportunities to join the SureSwift team. Visit our careers website to discover how you can contribute to our mission and be a part of a dynamic, forward-thinking organization that values both innovation and individual growth.

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