The Complete Guide to Hiring a Fractional Executive

Small and mid-sized businesses, that begin as start-ups, encounter the same needs as bigger corporate-level companies. As these smaller companies grow, the need for expertise and access to C-suite-level executives also increases to meet the growth challenges. In the past, high level executives served only the high earning corporate level companies because of the cost involved in hiring them full time. The cost of hiring a C-suite executive no longer needs to be unattainable or permanent when a need for such expertise arises.

The growing world of fractional executives opens the door to moving such companies up the ladder so that they reach their full potential for success, without the overall expenses that come with an executive of that caliber. Business growth mindset trends allow small business owners access to take advantage of such expertise. Fractional executives lead and consult these businesses into dynamic growth at an affordable cost. To navigate the world of fractional executive portfolios, several key factors must be considered to hire the best executive.

Flexibility and Availability

A strategic move like hiring a freelance fractional executive can be the key to success for companies at crucial times in the life of the business. One factor to consider when hiring people like COO, CFO, or CEO level executives on contract, is their flexibility and availability to the company’s needs. Many times, these executives are only needed for major projects or to drive change in a company.

Making sure that the executive hired can work with the needs of the company in the timeline allotted is key.

Their availability and flexibility to work at the pace of the company are paramount to the most impactful return on investment. Many times the executives are remote workers. Their availability to be present virtually during hours needed is important to consider in the hiring process. Because these executives are hired temporarily, their focus is on making sure their needs are met with the resources available to them.

Flexibility and the aptitude to function in a fast-paced and at times, an ambiguous environment is a must. They come with the understanding that their availability is very much on an as-needed basis, with results at the forefront of their engaged time.

Communication and Persuasive Skills

Open communication and strong persuasive skills with all stakeholders of a company is key to the success of an executive whether they are permanent hires or fractional executives hired temporarily. The success of the company depends on an executive with professional communication skills with clear and effective written and verbal communication.

Oftentimes, fractional executives work remotely, so knowing when to ask the right questions and provide relevant expertise to meet the company’s needs can make all the difference. Their strong presentation and persuasive skills can help to communicate changes and needs when there is resistance. These individuals are not hired to work in the background, so a powerful presence is mandatory.

For example, when hiring a CMO, it’s important to make sure the executive knows and understands the company’s product and audience so that messaging is transparent, impactful and compelling to bring the results desired for the company. Their understanding of the company’s product and audience can help to drive the most effective strategies for change and results.

Ensure Cultural Assimilation

Each company comes with its values and mission that builds the culture of the company. A fractional executive must understand and assimilate into the uniqueness of the culture and the people who work for it. This understanding is paramount for the success of the company and the goals that they are hired to meet. A fractional C-suite executive may have the expertise and knowledge that is needed, but if they don’t share the same values or work ethic and style of the company, it becomes extremely difficult to work with key stakeholders to meet goals.

Working in a global community would also require an understanding and recognition of the diversity of a company. Inclusivity should be a cornerstone of their leadership portfolio. Reviewing their portfolio of experience and philosophy with other small to mid-sized companies is a smart way to determine if they can assimilate into the culture of a smaller company. Checking references from those previous experiences listed on their portfolio may help eliminate regret and wasting limited funds when hiring someone who isn’t a good cultural fit.

Establish Needs vs. Skills

Not all executives come in a one size fits all model. A CTO successful in a technology start-up may not have the experience to be successful in a finance company. Find an executive that has experience and expertise in the type of industry, product, and deliverable based on that company’s needs. A C-suite executive hired for specific project goals should come with an ample record of success in meeting goals that are relevant for that company in the same or similar market.

Highly effective executives with robust, full-time executive experience know what it takes to lead a company toward change and growth. They have the knowledge and finesse to navigate the expected and unexpected aspects of a project or goal. Their problem-solving skills are grounded in real-world expertise, so they are better suited to lead from beginning to end.

An executive must have foresight in analyzing and assessing needs above and beyond the immediate concerns for the company. Their expertise and advice on the assessment can help companies adjust as advised. Small to mid-sized companies looking for growth may find the experience and knowledge that a fractional executive brings sets the stage for solid future successes.

Leadership Skills

Find a leader who empowers the team towards meeting the goals set forward. Leadership skills with a solid foundation in establishing a growth mindset, preparing other leaders, and driving results will set up small businesses to function well, even without someone in that specific role. Their goal to meet the needs of a company in a short period should be their only focus. Their result driven mindset should come with not only bringing results, but also measuring the success.

Short-term, thoroughly vetted, executives with clearly defined goals don’t have to worry about building long-term trust and relationships within the company. Fractional executives’ higher-level leadership skills can immediately address issues and problem areas objectively since their need is for results within a time limit. The trust that comes with those results is a bonus. Leaders who have strong problem-solving skills to address concerns with creativity and directness lead companies to success and growth.

Fractional executives with strong negotiation and analytical skills can help with strategic goals for a company and consult with other leaders to build on growth beyond their immediate needs. This ability comes from their experiential foresight evident in their portfolio and leadership skills.

Integrity Time-management and Strong Interpersonal Skills

Leaders and experienced executives must come with extensive records of integrity and a solid work ethic. Their integrity and transparency in all aspects of interaction with stakeholders forges strong work relationships. A leader’s ability to drive change, while addressing their own errors along the way speaks to an executives integrity and reliability.

Integrity also includes their respect for the company’s policies when interacting with confidential information. A deep desire to not just meet but exceed expectations speaks volumes about the work ethic of a C-suite executive.

An impactful leader and executive understands the timeline and manages his time to be the most productive. A quicker turn-around requirement would in-turn require that they show proof of management with all the expectations in place. Strong interpersonal skills allow a strong C-suite leader to work with a variety of personalities and effectively build relationships needed to meet the desired results. That strength is paired with healthy emotional intelligence to overcome any obstacles in communication along the way.

They must address all stakeholders and have the interpersonal skills to reach them at all levels. When reviewing a prospective candidate’s portfolio, these few qualities must be one of the most desired in a C-suite executive.

Desired Goal

One of the most important parts of hiring the right fractional executive for a small to mid-sized business is narrowing the goal the company desires to achieve. Knowing the purpose and length of a company’s need for hiring an executive can help alleviate any unnecessary costs and time. Fractional executives can serve various roles, but they must have clear guidance on the type of expertise needed to result in high ROI for the company.

There are executives who can provide strategies on growth, sales and marketing, finance, and operations. Finding which executive(s) is the right for a company’s specific goals is essential. These executives may serve in an advisory role or provide clear authoritative direction for a company. Stakeholders and small business owners must identify specific needs before the hiring process.

A company might need to hire a CMO to serve a specific function, like building a pipeline of marketing strategies that are built on successful client acquisition outcomes. It may also involve training the current marketing team to reach those outcomes consistently and how to tweak strategies when needed. This goal is specific and attainable in the short term when a CMO’s services are needed. Establishing a clear timeline from the beginning to the end of this goal will help companies reach those desired results without exceeding the budget allocated for a fractional executive hire.

Budget in Mind

Establishing a realistic budget for paying fractional executives is a necessary step toward meeting the needs of a company. This budget falls directly in line with the purpose the executive serves. Although the cost of hiring a fractional executive is significantly less than a full-time executive that requires executive-level salaries and benefits, high-quality contract-based executives do come with a price tag. It may not make sense to hire fractional executives for all aspects of a small or mid-sized company, but allocating several thousand dollars per month for the expertise and service that provides the most impactful change or growth for a company is a wise decision. This budget should be set up to yield the results a company needs.

The world of business has changed and small businesses must adapt to evolving their business needs to generate the highest ROI strategically. Hiring experts to help small businesses reach their full potential is a strategic step. Companies that focus on seeking the most highly qualified executives and consultants, with a deep understanding of the pain points of small business owners are priceless when it comes to making such decisions. These companies have the pulse on the most up-to-date trends and needs of businesses.

Let professional companies who house C-suite executives with deeply vetted portfolios and a collaborative mindset open the doors for growth and opportunity. Small to mid-sized companies no longer need to feel removed from seeing the successes that are seen across their larger counterparts who house full time executives with salaries and benefits that are unattainable for small businesses. Fractional C-suite executives close that gap with their expertise at a fraction of cost to the company.

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