We can’t get through the nightly news without hearing about the latest layoffs and inflation’s effect on the economy. We can expect to hear more of this as we enter 2023. Businesses of all sizes continue to find ways to reduce expenses, and the concept of utilizing fractional executives is catching on. Let’s face it, the cost required to find, hire and assimilate C-Suite talent is beyond the reach of most businesses. Cost pressure does not eliminate the business need for these executives to bring to the table. The many advantages have become apparent, including depth and breadth of executive expertise, an objective perspective, and a measurable, faster return on investment.
What is a fractional executive?
A fractional executive takes on an executive role at a company for a “fraction” of their time, working more like a consultant and eliminating the need for lengthy interviews, long-term commitments, and high-end salaries. Fractional executives come seasoned with prior experience as full-time executives within their career spans.
How do fractional executives work with companies?
Contract fractional executives for part-time or full-time work, virtually or in-person, for a short time or for as long as owners need to meet their objectives. Fractional executives bring expanded leadership capacity and develop company employees through a transition or the next stage of company growth. There are typically three business models for fractional executives:
- Full-time at the start of the engagement to set direction, processes, policies, and procedures, followed by a scaled-down role as the business and staff mature into their daily routines. In the scaled-down phase, the fractional executive takes on more of an advisory/mentor role.
- A small business or startup typically cannot afford a seasoned executive. They may plan to have a fractional executive on a long-term contract (12-18 months) due to the high cost of an in-house, salaried, C-suite executive. The owner/operator can focus on growth with the confidence that an experienced partner is in place to consult.
- In some instances, a full-time person is not necessary. A company can get what they need with one or more fractional executives to sit in on regular management meetings, ensure the staff is adequately trained, and handle any high-level projects. In this situation, the fractional executive may allocate 10-15 hours weekly to the engagement.
Types of fractional executives
Fractional executives come in all shapes and sizes and plug holes where a full-time resource is not needed. Fractional executives typically have 15 to 25 years of practical C-suite experience and exposure across multiple industries. Most have previously been CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, CTOs, and CIOs and can lend their expertise to your business.
Benefits of hiring a fractional executive
There are some areas where fractional executives can help your business. After all, they may be more experienced in the business world than many other people on your team. Because of that, they can add unique and knowledgeable input to these areas.
Leadership, Coaching & Mentorship
Being a great leader doesn’t come naturally to many; many business owners may need help. Owners can count on fractional executives with prior experience that can supplement and advise the current state of their business. As business owners bring on necessary traditional employees, they may need some form of coaching or mentorship while coming on board. The owner may not have the functional expertise to handle the task.
One of the biggest things that elude many small business owners is when to scale up their business and how fast they should do so. However, since many fractional integrators have already been where your business is, they would be more capable of knowing when you should scale. Not only do they know when you should or shouldn’t begin scaling your business, but they’ll also have a more precise input on how fast your business should scale. After all, business isn’t a one size fits all scenario. A fractional integrator will bring experience to help you make the right decision and increase the efficiency of your business.
There are multiple reasons to hire a fractional executive, but the most obvious is cost savings. C-suite executive salaries average $250,000 annually plus 31% to 47% in benefits, equipment, office space, bonuses, and PTO employer taxes. This expense is not feasible for many small- to mid-sized businesses, and that high cost might not make sense for some positions at larger companies either.
When solving problems many business owners can hit a wall when finding solutions. After all, you can only come up with many ideas to help your business grow. Not only can fractional executives offer a fresh perspective, but their opinion can be better informed than a business owner. After all, they’ve already been in your position and have a similar perspective.
Your company will need to consider whether adding a fractional executive is the right move. For small and mid-sized companies and, most notably, startups, bringing on someone temporarily to lend an outside perspective and support executive tasks that may not be a strength of anyone within the organization can be a very efficient way to build your growing business.