How to Become a Fractional Executive: Tips for Transitioning Into a New Career Role

Making a career change can be daunting, but it can also be very rewarding. If you are looking to switch to becoming a fractional executive, there are specific steps you need to take to make the transition as smooth as possible. Based on my interview with John Arms, the co-founder of Voyager U, a learning platform for executives who want to chart their career paths, I’ve weaved together the tips below for moving into this new career role. Follow these tips, and you will be on your way to success!

What is a Fractional Executive?

A fractional executive is a business professional who provides expertise on a part-time or project basis. This type of arrangement is often used by small businesses or startups that can’t afford to hire a full-time executive but still need access to high-level talent. Startups may benefit from hiring a fractional executive since they can now access the talent they couldn’t previously afford. A fractional executive is just the right leadership level to lead the firm through this critical early phase.

A Fractional executive, unlike a consultant, does more than just offer suggestions. They stay around to ensure that their plans are implemented and that their clients’ businesses develop over time.

Fractional executives fulfill essential C-suite management responsibilities, including Chief Product Officer (CPO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), and more.

Individuals come loaded with prior experience and have typically held one of these jobs in a full-time position during their careers.

Is the Fractional Executive Role for You?

The Fractional Executive role is perfect for those who desire to lead and are looking for an opportunity to take on more responsibility without a full-time commitment. If you’re feeling unfulfilled in your current position or are interested in exploring a new career path, becoming a Fractional Executive may be the right move for you.

Not everyone is suited for fractional work. If you want the stability of a consistent team and job for an extended time, a full-time position may be preferable. However, fractional employment comes with its own set of advantages. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if this is the right fit.

  • Do you wish to have more control over your time and scope of work?
  • Do you want to work with a variety of teams and organizations?
  • Do you like the idea of being paid for performance rather than time spent working?
  • Do you want to work with early-stage companies and entrepreneurs?
  • Do you like having a variety of projects going at once? Do you enjoy working on several ideas at the same time?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, fractional executive work might be a good fit for you. As a fractional executive, you’ll have the opportunity to control your work schedule, take on more responsibility, and be paid for your results. If you’re interested in transitioning to this type of work, here are a few tips to get started.

3 Components of How to Get Started as a Fractional Executive

As a fractional executive, your success is pegged on the clients you bring in and the projects you work on. How do you get started? How do you find clients that are the right match for your skills and services? How do you identify potential projects? Below are three tips to get started as a fractional executive:

Pipeline Discipline

John Arms noted in the podcast interview, “every business that succeeds has a pipeline and operates a pipeline and has some discipline about it.

Great fractional executives are disciplined about their sales pipeline. They know how many deals they need to close every month, and they work backward from there to ensure a consistent stream of new business. If you want to transition into a fractional executive role, start by being laser-focused on your sales pipeline. How many deals do you need to close monthly to hit your targets? How can you ensure a steady stream of new business? By being disciplined about your sales pipeline, you’ll set yourself up for success in this new career role.

Micro Networking

One of the best ways to transition into a fractional executive role is through micro networking. This involves connecting with people in similar roles or who have made a similar career transition. You can make these connections through online platforms like LinkedIn or by attending industry events. In fact, according to John Arms, “leads come from smaller communities and more intimate conversations.

Micro networking allows you to build relationships with people who can provide advice, insights, and connections that can help you make the transition into a fractional executive role. It’s also a great way to learn about open positions or companies that may be hiring fractional executives.

So, if you’re interested in becoming a fractional executive, start by connecting with people already in similar roles. Attend industry events, join LinkedIn groups, and participate in online forums. By building relationships with like-minded individuals, you’ll be one step closer to transitioning into this exciting career role.

Referability

Referability is critical for fractional executives. After all, the whole point of having a fractional executive is to have someone who can come into a company and quickly make an impact. How do you become referable? Start by becoming an expert in your field and develop a strong network of contacts. But being referable goes beyond just your technical skills and ability to network it’s about your superpower.

Your superpower is what makes you unique and special. It’s the thing that sets you apart from everyone else. When thinking about your superpower, ask yourself what it is that you do better than anyone else. John gives an example of himself that he is a CMO with a superpower of being a storyteller, which is highly referable. If a customer comes up to your network and says, “Our brand is terrible, we are all over the board, it’s a mess, ” someone will say, ” I know just the person.”

When you become referable, people will want to work with you because they know that you will be able to deliver results. And that’s how you become a fractional executive. You start by becoming an expert in your field and developing a solid micro-network of contacts, but you also need to have a superpower that sets you apart from everyone else.

Get Started

So, if you’re looking to make a career change and want to become a fractional executive, start by doing your research. Find out what companies are hiring for your skills and reach out to them directly. Use your network of friends, family, and colleagues to find leads on potential jobs or connect with people who may be able to help you in your job search. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Plenty of resources are available to help you transition into a new career role, so take advantage of them.

 

Ben Wolf Author
Ben Wolf, founder and CEO of Fractional Leadership, has been on both sides of the Fractional Leader search process.
As a leader in companies where he served as Fractional Integrator (outsourced COO), he has searched for and found multiple Fractional Leaders for clients. And as a Fractional Integrator, he has gone through many cycles looking for new clients at the successful conclusion of each engagement.
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