What is a Fractional COO? And Do You Need One for Your Business?

If you’re like most business owners, you’re probably wearing a lot of hats. You’re responsible for marketing, sales, operations, and maybe even finance. It can be tough to manage it all yourself, especially when trying to grow your business. That’s where a fractional COO can help. I interviewed Rachel Beider, CEO of Press Modern Massage, a consultant, and an author of Press Here: Massage for Beginners, to learn more about how a fractional COO can help business owners and whether or not you need one for your business.

What is a Fractional COO?

A Fractional COO is a Chief Operating Officer that works for your company on a part-time or interim basis. They’re there to offer you guidance, expertise, and executive-level leadership to assist you in avoiding roadblocks in your business model and ensure that you’re on the right strategic and operational path for maximum development.

Fractional COOs provide various services at a fraction of the cost of a full-time COO, making them an appealing success tool for small and medium-sized businesses and organizations just getting started without the cash for a full-time COO.

The Fractional COO model is becoming increasingly popular as businesses look for ways to do more with less.

What does a Fractional COO do?

The fractional COO’s duties vary based on the company’s demands, the CEO’s skillset, and the fractional COO’s skill set. There are a lot of tasks that a fractional COO can handle in numerous areas. The sole responsibility of a fractional COO is to run the firm better than it did when they joined it and to handle all operational issues to relieve you of duties and allow you to concentrate on your long-term business goals.

In general, though, these are some of the focus areas most COOs come to handle;

  • Strategic Planning: Assists the CEO in long-term strategic planning by focusing on the company’s mission, vision, values, and goals. Long-term and short-term planning are two different things. They also have the knowledge and connections to see their initiatives through.
  • Operational development and management: This might be anything from enhancing and reshaping the company’s operational core to identifying opportunities and risks. Creating long-term viable systems and processes, such as standard operating procedures, organizational restructuring of back end and front end systems, policy and procedure creation, and introducing new technology when necessary are all a part of operational development.
  • Organizational development and management: Assists in developing and leading a sustainable culture and environment that enables the company’s growth. Consider hiring, communication, team management, and leadership areas to address.
  • Project management and planning: Overseeing company projects that have been determined through strategic planning. They ensure that the project is proceeding as planned, that stakeholders are all on the same page, and that the project is progressing as it should. The fractional COO may completely manage or simply oversee projects with project managers depending on the business’s size and the project.
  • KPIs and metric reporting: Reports on and improves key indicators to ensure and evaluate efficiency within the company. Consider sales forecasting, website, and social media traffic, data, client retention, and other vital metrics.

When should a Business Hire a Fractional COO?

Most business owners or CEOs wear many hats. They are responsible for the growth and profitability of the company, managing people and teams, developing new products or services, and ensuring smooth operations. But there comes a time when a business reaches a certain level of success that it becomes difficult for one person to manage everything effectively. This is when a fractional COO can be extremely valuable.

This is precisely why fractional COOs exist – to provide an extra set of experienced hands-on-deck without the full-time commitment or cost. Fractional COOs can be brought in for as little as a few hours a week or month, and they can help with anything from developing growth strategies to streamlining processes to hiring and firing employees.

This is true with Rachel. Her business had grown from having one room to nine rooms and more massage therapists, followed by exponential growth to open another branch in a different location with eight rooms. She was excited to take on new challenges; however, she quickly realized that managing two spaces was more than she could handle. She was handling everything herself, from hiring staff to training staff to managing the books. She quickly realized she needed help and brought on a fractional COO to take on some of the operational tasks, freeing her up to focus on what she does best – expanding the business.

The following are some signs that a small business might require a fractional COO. If you can relate to any of these, it might be time to start looking for a Fractional COO for your business:

You’re spending more time managing than improving

When you’re spending all of your time ensuring everything is running efficiently, you’ll have less time to develop new methods for pushing your company forward. If you’re so busy keeping your company afloat that you don’t have time to think about where it’s going or how you can help it get there, consider hiring a COO. A Fractional COO can take charge of the day-to-day operations of your business, giving you more time to focus on the big picture.

You’re expanding rapidly

If your business is growing quickly, it can be challenging to keep up with the demand. A Fractional COO can help you manage this growth by developing systems and processes that can scale with your business. They can also help you manage your finances and human resources, so you can focus on other aspects of running your business.

You don’t have time to plan for the future

 

When you’re too busy putting out fires, it’s hard to find time to think about where you want your business to be in five years. A Fractional COO can help you develop a long-term plan for your business, so you can focus on the present without sacrificing your future.

Your CEO is overwhelmed

If your CEO is trying to do too many things, it can be difficult for them to focus on the most critical aspects of running your business. A Fractional COO can help take some of the pressure off by handling day-to-day operations, so your CEO can focus on more strategic tasks.

You want to strengthen your company’s leadership

If you want to build a strong leadership team, a Fractional COO can help you identify the most qualified candidates and develop a succession plan. They can also help you implement training and development programs to prepare your leaders for the future. For instance, how Rachel was assisted by her COO in implementing Homebase, a small business tool for managing employee scheduling, time tracking, and communication.

You need someone to execute ideas

If you have a lot of great ideas but don’t have the time or resources to execute them, a Fractional COO can help. They can develop and implement systems and processes to help you get the most out of your ideas.

The Good News

So what’s the good news? Fractional COOs can be an incredible asset to a business. They can provide much-needed structure and support, freeing the CEO to focus on strategic initiatives and long-term growth.

In addition, a Fractional COO can bring a fresh perspective to the table, providing outside insights and ideas that can help take your business to the next level.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations of your business, or if you’re simply looking for ways to take your company to the next level, a Fractional COO may be just what you need.

 

7 Self-Care Necessities for Fractional Leaders

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Strategies around self-care are plentiful. The nature of Fractional Leadership work in juggling clients and necessary administrative duties, means you must make the most of your time in order to provide great value to your clients.

Ways FLs Can Stay True to Core Values

The following actions give you the permission to stay true to your core values and live your ideal life as a Fractional Leader (FL). The idea of implementing all seven of these suggestions may be overwhelming; begin with one or two that resonate with you and build from there.

  1. Create a routine. Great leaders who have come before us have shared their keys to success. From them, we know creating and following a daily routine provides the structure for your best work. Whether it’s setting the time you sit down at your desk each day, or consciously outlining the series of steps you take in the morning to get to your desk, tapping into the power of the routine will help you to be ready for the day, refreshed and focused when you take that first call or step into a meeting. This includes preparing for the next day the night before!
  1. Take Clarity BreaksTM: As a fractional leader, it is more than just your clients pulling you in all directions. Taking the time to mindfully pause, reflect, and ideate is so important. Clarity BreaksTM — a tool in the EOS® Toolbox — should happen somewhere other than your desk and be scheduled at regular intervals so your time is uninterrupted. Use the time to evaluate an issue, think through a challenge, or just brain dump all the ideas filling space in your mind. Use Clarity BreaksTM to provide you with the space to sift through and think about what is important.
  1. Connect with nature. The benefits of being out in nature are scientifically proven. Getting fresh air each day through a walk, a run, or other outdoor activities costs you nothing other than the time and effort. In chilly weather, setting aside time to look out the window and taking note of the moving leaves, the birds at the feeder, blowing grass or sweeping clouds can have measurable benefits.
  1. Find your groove-inducer. Does music inspire you? Is there a favorite beverage you enjoy as a treat? Use the resources you have around you and through consistency and habit-building practices, tap those resources to find what induces your groove – especially during that afternoon slump when sleepiness or distractions creep in.
  1. Know thyself. Would you describe yourself as an extrovert, ambivert or introvert? Knowing where you land on the spectrum can inform decisions around how you spend your refresh and recharge time. Extroverts may, for example, enjoy connecting in person or online with group discussions to generate new ideas. Alternatively, introverts may choose to carve out dedicated writing or solo reflection time. Once you identify your own tendencies and related cup-filling activities, select and practice those providing the most impact.
  1. Know when to say “No”. As entrepreneurs, we often say “yes” to every opportunity as a way to build business.  But burnout is real. By choosing to be good at what you’re all about and taking opportunities (and potential partners, colleagues, and clients) through your core values filter, great value will be found. Trying to be everything to everyone is so hard! With a laser focus on your passion, defined niche, and well-thought-out core values, you will give yourself — and your team — permission to set boundaries and the room to build and live your ideal life.
  1. Define your personal wellness practice. Wellness can take on many forms depending on individual preferences. Incremental experimentation can provide just as much — if not more — value, providing you with the time to figure out what works best for you. I turn to spending time with my dogs and disconnecting for my mental health and making sure I have plenty of water (or other healthy liquids) nearby at all times. You may also choose to try a new workout routine or to seek out a therapist.

Whichever strategies you choose to employ, start with what feels right to you. Use a Clarity BreakTM to periodically check in with yourself and recognize and acknowledge what’s working and what isn’t. Self-care is an ever-changing target impacted by many factors and requires constant adjustment. Seek those tools and activities providing the foundation for you to bring your best self to your clients, your team, your family, and your community. Be well.

About the Author

Jamie Munoz is the founder and visionary of a team of Fractional Integrators at Catalyst Integrators, helping busy visionaries and entrepreneurs maximize their potential by running companies on EOS. Jamie is also a certified John Maxwell Team coach, speaker and trainer. Contact Jamie here.