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Fractional Leadership | An Effective Solution for Growing Businesses

What is Fractional Executive Support? 

Yes, it is related to the fractions you studied all those years ago, but this time the math is far simpler.  

Over the past 18 months we have gotten to know incredible companies and the teams that run them. Some are early stage, while others, at the $10 million mark and beyond. Such companies have achieved their success by running lean organizations with founders playing multiple rolls - CEO, COO, HR director, help desk… you name it. With a handful of employees and a small number of critical customers, the multi-tasking CEO is possible and often requisite. However, there comes a point where the complexity of operations or the amount of time consumed by everyday issues, requires focus and attention at an executive level. The challenge lies in the tension of needing more senior level executives but not yet feeling the cost of a full-time employee is fully justified. 

We see it every day. And it is having a significant impact on our clients’ ability to grow. Leaders can’t devote the time they need to strategic work, because they are spending too much time on work that should be done by others… 

As former executives at large corporations, we have learned to appreciate the value of operational excellence and people management. Having a strong team supporting the vision of a CEO is critical to an organization’s success. We acquired this experience at a range of companies, from Microsoft to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to boutique consulting firms and successful startups. We know, keeping employees engaged, fairly compensated, always learning and minimally frustrated by the mechanics of their job is no easy task. 

Knowing what you know best is important. Our experience allows us to create fractional support services for our clients in the areas of operations and strategic planning. We also believe in providing small businesses with access to executive talent that is hard to come by, and in the area of Human Resources, expertise is critical and in short supply. For clients in need of this type of support, we bring in executives that we have worked with throughout our careers and are now enjoying the flexibility to engage as needed. 

Creating an approach where we can spend more time with our clients is enjoyable and effective. Rather than thinking about projects – we get to think more about process.  

Our goal is to support companies, build internal structures to make operations and people management flow smoothly. This approach can create a bridge from now until the companies are large enough to support executives on a full-time basis. Success for us is to see companies outgrow our services!  

Reach out to us at if you would like to learn more about our approach to fractional executive support and determine if it is the right fit for you. 

Additional readings: 

Our favorite, simplest description of when you need a COO – “if the CEO no longer can concentrate on building the company because she is busy running it” comes from an October 2018 by Kimberlee Leonard. 

A very succinct Q&A describing a fractional executive can be found in this Forbes article. It states that fractional executives are “most often the best fit for mid-market organizations that don't need or can't afford a permanent, full-time leader but would benefit from the knowledge and strategic leadership that a short-term, experienced, and accomplished executive” brings to the table. 

“Start-ups have been ahead of the curve for years; strapped for cash but dreaming of top talent, plenty of start-ups have brought” in part time executive support. This five-year-old article includes some obvious pitfalls to avoid.