Can an “Intrapreneurial” Approach Lead to Success?

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Everyone knows about Entrepreneurship! But it’s “Intrapreneurship” that can take your small business to the pinnacle.

In fact, Google’s “20% time” rule reflects this type of spirit. As Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin put it in 2004:

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”

Coined by American entrepreneurs Gifford Pinchot III and Elizabeth S. Pinchot in the late 1970s, the term Intrapreneurship refers to a system that allows an employee to behave like an entrepreneur within a company or an organization.

It can provide a “disruptive” environment and technologies for enhancing and reengineering your organization’s internal processes. The goal is to identify new and parallel products and services and become a leader in your industry. It takes Agile and LEAN continuous improvement to another level!

It is based on the “submarine disruption” theory because it starts at the bottom, not with leadership. Success does rely on senior management and ownership to empower individuals and teams to seek and make change even at the risk of possible internal discontent.

Steve Jobs described it as “a group of people going back to the garage, but in a large company.”

Not everyone is meant to be or wants to be an entrepreneur. Most employees will not be interested in taking the personal or financial risks associated with starting their own business. They are perfectly happy with their careers and a regular paycheck.

But they might be very interested and committed to making meaningful change in the community and the organization.

Intrapreneur Characteristics

Intrapreneurs have high leadership skills and think outside the box. They take risks and drive changes to enhance goods and services to the customer. They are not satisfied with the status quo and always look to make meaningful changes.

Often, a significant obstacle is that the disruptive results and new opportunities and income streams are sometimes not well accepted by ownership and other internal departments that may prefer to back the outcome for the firm.

Intrapreneurs have the same entrepreneurial spirit as visionaries and small business owners but exhibit their skills within the organization and usually do not have the financial risks. They are not afraid to make waves and are often seen as “troublemakers!” But they can assist leadership in making significant advantageous disruptive “change.”

The 3 Types of Intrapreneurs

There are three types of intrapreneurs. Creators, Doers and Implementers, and there will assuredly be others.

Creators are, hopefully, all around you. They always look to make things more efficient. Cherish them. They will make your business successful.

Doers look to work with Creators and implement meaningful change. They understand the change and get it done.

Implementers understand the high-level goals. They are often pressure and goal-driven and strive to make the company “great,” as do all of your Intrapreneurs.

Build and reinforce a culture of creativity, disruptive innovation and brainstorming! You hired them for a reason. Support them! It will only benefit you and your mission!

Intrapreneurs are right under your nose and should be supported and rewarded for making your firm the best it can be. If you are lucky, you will lose your good Intrapreneurs to the world of Entrepreneurship, where they belong!!! You cannot stifle them. But utilize them while you can.

Give me a call — I would love to discuss your Intrapreneurs with you!

About the Author

Currently a Fractional Leader assisting SMEs with growth and operational excellence, William (Bill) is an entrepreneurial, results-driven “C” leader with over 30 years of success leading all areas of “the business,” including Accounting & Finance, Sales & Marketing, IT, Operations and Supply Chain Management in various industries. You can contact Bill via LinkedIn or at 484-390-1105.

Why Fractional Leadership Works

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Now that we’ve introduced each of the Fractional Leader (FL) roles with a high-level overview, what does it mean for your business to have an experienced leader swoop in when you’re stuck and guide you to your destination? A strong leader who has “been there and done that” knows what to do and how to inspire your troops to charge.

The biggest reason Fractional Leadership works is you’re bringing someone on your side who’s already gotten past the point where you’re stuck — and they’ve usually done so multiple times. They shortcut you around bottlenecks and obstacles so you can break through and go way beyond where you could on your own.

Sometimes the best way to illustrate something is to go to those who have been there done that, so I spoke with many small business owners about Fractional Leadership. Here are but a few brief examples that I discuss in length in my book.

Wil Schroter, founder and CEO of Startups.com, the world’s largest startup launch platform and cohost of the Startup Therapy Podcast, explains that in the startup world, Fractional Leadership “is just called hiring.”

There’s no way I could possibly afford the kind of Chief Operating Officer or Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) I need. I bring them on in exchange for maybe a quarter point of equity because early equity is the only kind of currency I have at that point. And the truth is that I don’t need that CMO to run my pay-per-click anyway. I can find someone on fiverr to do the grunt work. What I need is for her to tell me what’s around every corner, which company I need a partnership with, and “By the way, here are the contacts you need to talk to.” She’ll send an email that will take 15 minutes of her time and save me a year of my time. That guidance and those relationships are worth their weight in gold.

Kwame Christian, Esq., Director of the American Negotiation Institute and author of Finding Confidence in Conflict, told me that he uses a Fractional Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in his company because it allows him to bring extensive experience and an objective perspective into his business but without the full-time cost:

My Fractional CFO manages the entire financial side of our business. He has that high-level expertise, but we don’t need to pay for full-time.

His benefit is also objectivity. I think it’s easier to be more objective about the company when you have a little bit of separation. My background is in psychology, and I do some implicit bias training from time-to-time because bias is just a natural state of the human mind. I have preconceived notions about my own business. So I tell him, “Listen, I’m biased. This is the way I’m seeing it, but I’m probably missing something. What am I missing?” He can see things a lot more objectively. It’s been really helpful to have that outside influence.

The bottom line for most considering a FL is that they need a leader in the fractional role. For people who are used to having to figure everything out for themselves, hiring a Fractional Leader can almost feel like cheating. They worry they’re doing something wrong by bypassing the obstacles and skipping straight to effective (though often not easy) solutions. Although this feeling is natural, it causes them unnecessary pain and makes their progress toward their own dreams much longer and harder than it has to be.

Leader, Not Worker Bee

Tactical, frontline-type work is a distraction from a Fractional Leader’s main value proposition. Fractional Chief Sales Officers (FCSOs), for example, generally do not make their own sales. Fractional COOs do not personally lead highly technical system rollouts. And FCFOs do not personally do your bookkeeping, A/P, and payroll. Instead, FLs set up systems and processes that cause the people in your organization to do their jobs far more effectively than before. They then train and oversee those teams. This ultimately gets you far more results than one person, even one who is very skilled, can accomplish on their own. The power of FLs is their experience and ability to focus your organization’s resources on your priorities.

You probably built your business by being a “doer” who gets as much accomplished as is humanly possible. Your leadership team always did the same. The problem is, as the saying goes, “What got you here isn’t going to get you there.” Even though the “all hands on deck,” “get ’er done” culture got you past the critically dangerous startup phase, you’ve now reached the stage in your business where that does not work anymore. Isn’t that why you’re frustrated and reading about Fractional Leadership in the first place?

Get Focused on the Right Things

Whether you use an FCSO to focus your sales process and message on what resonates with your target market, an FCFO to make the right decisions based on financial experience, analysis, and data, or a Fractional Chief Technology Officer (FCTO) to build and iterate the right product, focus is key. Because FLs have seen what works and know how to drive implementation, people use them to focus their limited resources on the right things for maximum impact and scalability.


The information herein is a partial excerpt from my book, Fractional Leadership, which  is a consolidation of my personal experience as a Fractional Leader (FL), retaining other FLs in businesses I managed or manage, interviews with FLs on my podcast, Win-Win—An Entrepreneurial Community, and my network and relationships with other FLs.

My experience in operations and being a Fractional Leader in companies running on EOS certainly contribute to my knowledge of operations. I am not, however, a subject matter expert in marketing, sales, finance, or technology. I’ve written these topics with reliance on business owners and FLs in those fields — from a 30,000-foot perspective.

Check out my blogs discussing the five main types of FLs: Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (FCMO), Fractional Chief Sales Officer (FCSO), Fractional Chief Operating Officer (FCOO),  Fractional Chief Technology Officer (FCTO) and Fractional Chief Financial Officer (FCFO).

The First 90 Days With a Fractional Integrator

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Picture this: Business is humming. Future goals are clear. The team is working together. Ninety days ago, this wasn’t the case. Ninety days ago, the business was floundering. The Visionary was beyond frustrated, and the team wasn’t achieving traction.

Enter the Fractional Integrator (FI). The Fractional Integrator (a Fractional Leader experienced in EOS®, focusing on operations) might be engaged short-term, supporting an existing Integrator or a newly hired full-time Integrator as they transition into their second-in-command role. Other times, the Fractional Integrator is a long-term partner to leaders seeking an experienced operations executive as the business elevates to the next level.

Getting Into Alignment With Your Fractional Integrator

Vetting of a Fractional Integrator includes discussions about expectations, desired outcomes, vision alignment, and open and honest communication around the business’s current challenges. Once a match is made, the Fractional Integrator gets to work laying the foundation and building a cohesive team structure.

A Fractional Integrator brings a wealth of knowledge and the discipline and drive to lead, manage, and hold the team accountable, including the Visionary! If assistance in rolling out and supporting the EOS® structure and related tools and processes is needed, the Fractional Integrator can provide that support to ensure team-wide system adaptation.

The First 90 Days

The first 90 days include crystallizing the EOS® Vision Traction/Organizer (V/TO), developing a plan and dialing in the operating system company-wide. The Fractional Integrator is on board to help the wheels turn faster and more effectively, with the full effort of all team members. If team members whose skills would best be used elsewhere are identified, the Fractional Integrator supports the leadership team and Human Resources with smooth transitions and aligning the right people for the right seats.

During the initial 30 days, the business benefits from an experienced, third-party, unbiased viewpoint to grow and transform the business. The Fractional Integrator is laser-focused on bringing consistency, structure, process, and improved communication to the team. A regular meeting cadence and streamlined internal messaging are honed, and the structuring of an accountability chart that best serves the business’s goals is completed.

Days 30 to 90 are then used to support the team through modeling, mentoring, and leadership, ensuring everyone is rowing together in the same direction. Effective meetings, regular check-ins, and accountability are the goals during this time. Process development is introduced, and core processes are reviewed and aligned. The Fractional Integrator continually brings the Visionary and team members back to the focus areas of the V/TO as the guiding principles for all business actions and decisions.

What Happens Next: Living Your Ideal Life

Many clients continue working in tandem with a Fractional Integrator well beyond the 90-day mark. However, if budget or the hiring of a full-time Integrator dictates the conclusion of the working relationship with a Fractional Integrator, ensure that in those 90 days they have met all expectations and objectives.

For businesses with a full-time Integrator, the Fractional Integrators’ goal is to support, mentor, guide and model for the in-house Integrator. A typical Integrator mentoring program consists of a targeted set of milestones providing the Integrator with the skills, understanding, and tools to actively engage and succeed in the second-in-command role.

Ultimately, the success of a Fractional Integrator’s work is measured by a team who has acquired new skills, is open, brutally yet kindly honest, and manages their time and energy with a focus on the highest and best priorities. The successful team leads, manages, and holds their colleagues accountable. An abundance mindset is practiced, and the vision for the business is crystal clear and followed by all. The business’ future is bright and predictable, providing the Visionary and the team the freedom and confidence to live their ideal lives.

The referenced term “Integrator” comes from the book Traction, by Gino Wickman, based on the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®).

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.

How to Win Complex B2B Sales

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You might be of the belief that winning complex B2B sales is impossible for the average salesperson and that it’s all about having a great product and a stellar sales team. But you’d be wrong. It’s all about your process and the unique way you approach selling.

See, there’s this little-known thing called the Winning Complex Sales (WCS) process. Hardly anybody is talking about it. But when you learn it and use it, you’ll see a huge difference in your sales cycle and how quickly you can go from deals worth thousands to those worth millions in a short period of time.

I’m about to reveal the exact formula and step-by-step system for winning more complex B2B sales in less time.

Win More Complex B2B Sales in Less Time

While a multi-million-dollar contract can keep a firm flush with revenue for years, most salespeople lack the skill to pursue large prospective deals. They tend to think transactionally, so they need to be coached on the preparation, strategy and tactics — and this is best accomplished with a WCS process.

Step 1: Prep, which means:

  1. Map out the org chart of the target company.
  2. Understand your product inside and out.
  3. Know how to articulate your value proposition and explain why the customer needs your product.
  4. Select the top prospects that offer the biggest potential return on time and money spent.
  5. Research each target firm (annual statements, news articles, social posts, etc.) to uncover their mission, areas of growth, and challenges.
  6. Identify the players in each firm who contribute to the buying decision and how their buying process works. This is where the map in step a comes into play. You might need a “coach” or insider, as described further below, to help figure this out.

Now, that all seems like a lot of work before you even contact the prospect, and that’s the point! You want to focus on the best deals and do your homework rather than wing it on a bunch of long shots.

In truth, the WCS prep work process saves a lot of time in the long run. Few sales organizations do it thoroughly, despite it being one of two steps that lead to success in winning complex sales.

What’s the second step?

Step 2: Connect and engage properly.

Many salespeople are “professional visitors.” Not diggers, hustlers, closers. They stop by with donuts or whatever every once in a while. A sales team using the WCS framework does more focused work.

Once the target’s org board is mapped out, each important player is labeled per their role:

ENDORSER: The big kahuna decision-maker who MUST sign off on the deal. Usually, an exec but sometimes a team.

DECIDER: Most often, this is someone who directly manages the area where your product will be deployed. They buy to solve the problem for their area of responsibility and make the final call before presenting to the ENDORSER.

ASSESSOR: Someone with whom the buyer “checks in” to get their opinion on your proposal. This can be a finance person, someone with deep technical knowledge, or a lower-level manager.

USER: These employees benefit directly from your product. They are sometimes ASSESSORS since they will use the solution in their day-to-day work and provide valuable feedback on what is truly needed.

COACH: This role can be internal or external (such as a Fractional Leader), and can be considered your biggest supporter. They give you the inside scoop on who the decision-makers are, current needs and problems and might even grease the tracks for you to get the first meeting. The coach must be nurtured to help you dive deep into the other roles and understand the demographics and psychographics of the business.

The team then gets busy engaging with the key players in a focused way. The methodology is to hone in on the issues the prospect company cares about as uncovered in prep and with the coach’s help.

It’s here where a good CRM platform comes into play, as each contact needs to be recorded so the whole team stays informed, and the next steps are appropriately planned. Outreach methods include cold calls, emails, drip letter campaigns, networking, lunches, etc. And if you bring donuts, as I joked about earlier, make sure you engage with one of the key roles each time, as described above.

Communicating to these various roles without the research in Step 1 wastes an enormous amount of time as you have no idea what the buttons are. And most times, you only have ONE SHOT.

To Sum Up: Why a Winning Complex Sales Process Is Critical

To circle back to the beginning of this post — the average salesperson is NOT able to win complex B2B sales without a solid WCS process in place. Mapping and nurturing are the key to FOCUS and INFLUENCE. At Volohaus, we help firms set this all up and execute.

Would your firm benefit from a great WCS? How could it change your company and its revenue if you put one in place this month? If you’d like to discuss this further, please feel free to reach out to us at volohaus.com.

About the Author

Shaun Alger is Practice Manager at revenue growth firm VoloHaus. To learn more about how VoloHaus can help you accelerate your company’s growth, contact Shaun at 760-815-4464 or shaun@volohaus.com.

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.

Fractional Leadership and the Fractional CTO and CIO

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If your greatest need or what’s keeping you up at night relates to the proprietary tech products or systems you built and that you sell to your customers, or if you need your out-of-the-box systems up and running every second for your business to run, you may need a Fractional Chief Technology Officer or Fractional Chief Information Officer.

Let’s paint a picture of what that looks like.

You or a member of your leadership team are doing your best to manage a patchwork of freelancers, an Managed Services Provider (MSP), a VoIP provider, and internal or external developers or resources. Still, you don’t have the time, experience, or resources to do this well. It’s taking a toll on your ability to do what you need in other parts of the business. It’s holding you back.

Alternatively, you built a product using freelancers, and you sell usage of that product to your customers. But you’ve now grown the business big enough that the product and your customers’ needs are outgrowing your ability to serve them effectively. You’re one outage or bug away from disaster.

Another scenario is that you need to do a technology-heavy rehaul or turnaround of your operations, but you’re not sure where to start and certainly don’t have the bandwidth to drive and oversee

Do You Need an FCTO, FCIO or Consultant?

So, which role would best serve your business do you need, a Fractional CIO or CTO, or a consultant? Let’s run down the basics for each position.

The Fractional Chief Technology Officer

If you developed your proprietary technology and have an internal or external development team maintaining it, you may need a full-time CTO or a Fractional CTO. Without the right person focused on your product and the systems on which it operates, your entire business sits on very shaky ground.

You need someone who understands the servers on which those systems run, whether server-based or cloud-based. Your critical risks include data security, server reliability and speed, redundancy if something goes wrong, external and internal tampering, and hacking. You likely need someone with experience to take ownership of your technology.

The Fractional Chief Information Officer

Even if you utilize others’ technology, CRM, or ERP, if you’re over 1,000 people or have very complex, customized, or temperamental systems you desperately rely on every second, you may need an FCIO to allow you to sleep at night. You’ll also free yourself up to focus on running and growing your business once your technology isn’t hogging a huge share of your mental and emotional bandwidth.

Technology and Process Consultants

When do you need a technology or process consultant? In short, these professionals are most helpful when your need is more transactional or short-term. Suppose you need to choose and customize a technology once. In that case, a consultant can help you map out your business processes, research and choose the right technology solution for you to buy, and then hand off oversight of the actual implementation to someone internally.

Many technology and process consultants also offer implementation services. This still falls under the transactional or short-term umbrella. They’ll oversee the selection, execution, data migration, and rollout of the selected technology so that you don’t have to. But after that, their work is done.

Suppose you have significant ongoing needs that require strategic, ongoing leadership to oversee or continue improving and iterating the technologies on which you rely. In that case, you should consider retaining an FCIO or FCTO.

What Does the FCTO or FCIO Engagement Look Like?

The order of operations at the beginning of an FCTO or FCIO engagement depends heavily on why the business brings them in. Things look different if they’re there to implement a herculean technology overhaul or significantly level up and then shepherd ongoing operations. But first, they’ll lay some groundwork:

  • They’ll likely start off getting a lay of the land by getting to know you and the internal or external technology people you already have in place and exploring the systems you already have.
  • They will work with you and your team members to understand your business model and legal or regulatory framework.
  • Finally, they will learn from you about your long-term plans, vision, and goals.

This groundwork is critical for an FCTO or FCIO to ensure that your technology serves you not only in the short term but so that they have the information necessary to create a roadmap for the future to ensure that your systems continue to align with and support the achievement of your goals and don’t become an obstacle or liability later on.

Once they have the lay of the land and understand your ultimate destination, your FCIO or FCTO will prioritize the next steps necessary to align your systems with your current and, ultimately, future business.

On an ongoing basis, an FCIO or FCTO is your partner and continual resource in driving, overseeing, adapting, and iterating your technology infrastructure or products so that you can sleep at night and focus on growing the other parts of your business. You can rest assured that someone who knows exactly what they’re doing is taking care of the technology side of things.

Critically, this technology leader is a strategic partner and participates with your leadership team in their regular meetings and discussions. Ongoing operations, issue solving, budget, and plans all touch your tech in some way. You want your FCIO or FCTO to hear and be aligned with the other parts of your organization. The rest of the team needs your technology leader’s input regarding day-to-day operations, financial decision-making, and planning for the future.

What to Ask When Hiring an FCTO or FCIO

Once you’ve decided to move forward and hire a Fractional CIO or Fractional CTO, Consider the following when interviewing potential candidates:

  • Ensure that you and your potential FCIO or FCTO speak the same language, literally. The terms CIO, CTO, Head of Product, Product Manager, and Chief Information and Security Officer (CISO) all mean different things, and not everyone defines them the same way. Confirm that you’re both talking about the same things when using these terms.
  • As always, communicate exactly what you want the engagement to achieve and in what time frame.
  • Ensure that they have relevant, demonstrated experience doing something similar to what you need. This particularly applies if your potential FCIO or FCTO has a daunting technology goal like overseeing a new system rollout and data migration or directing the development of a product for sale to your customers.
  • Ensure they have industry experience if that is important to you. Examples include when your industry has an unusually specialized business model, complicated regulations that affect technology (like hospital systems or Department of Defense security requirements), or standards that would make the learning curve of someone without that industry experience unwieldy.

Virtually every business, and certainly one in growth mode, requires technology, including hardware, networking, security, internet, VoIP, and various Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to run the day-to-day business. If your business is struggling in any of these areas, a Fractional CTO or CIO might be the answer.


This blog is the last in a series that outlines some high-level considerations and offers insight into the five major types of Fractional Leadership: marketing, sales, operations, finance, and technology.

The information is a consolidation of my personal experience as a Fractional Leader (FL), retaining other FLs in businesses I managed or manage, interviews with FLs on my podcast, Win-Win—An Entrepreneurial Community, and my network and relationships with other FLs.

My experience in operations and being a Fractional Leader in companies running on EOS certainly contribute to my knowledge of operations. I am not, however, a subject matter expert in marketing, sales, finance, or technology. I’ve written these topics with reliance on business owners and FLs in those fields — from a 30,000-foot perspective.

Check out my blogs discussing the Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (FCMO), Fractional Chief Sales Officer (FCSO), Fractional Chief Operating Officer (FCOO) and Fractional Chief Financial Officer (FCFO).

Fractional Leadership and the Fractional COO

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As a small business owner, are you at the stage in your company’s growth where you’re experiencing poor cash flow, stagnant business growth, increasing overhead, or low or dipping conversion rates? Perhaps your operations can’t keep pace with your sales revenue or are slow or mistake-ridden. You’ve tried several solutions, but nothing has worked, and you’re not sure what to do about it.

At this stage in your entrepreneurial journey, your company has likely grown big enough that you can no longer afford to continue without senior executive leadership of your operations, and you don’t have the time to fill in. The challenge is that you’re not yet big enough to afford a chief operating officer (COO) with the kind of experience you desperately need on a full-time basis.

Or, in some instances, people are ready to hire (or replace) a COO full-time but know that the selection of the right person is so critical that they don’t want to rush it and are willing to spend the six to 18 months it might take to find the right person. They engage with a fractional chief operating officer (FCOO) on an interim basis because they cannot afford to leave that seat unfilled and lose precious momentum during the search process.

How Does an FCOO Engagement Work?

If you’ve decided that hiring a Fractional COO is the next step for your business, begin with the end in mind. This is the typical mantra of FCOOs. At the beginning of an engagement, they will work with you to learn about your business and determine where you are now and where you want to go.

Once you’ve determined that, they will work with you to map out a plan for getting you from point A to point Z. Depending on the critical issues weighing you down or causing you the most pain, they may tackle people issues, process issues or data issues first.

If successful, your Fractional Leader (FL) will help you grow and scale in a way you could never do on your own. They will ultimately help you interview full-time COO candidates, collaborate with you in the hiring process, and then transition a new COO into the position. Alternatively, using your new structure and processes, you may be able to transition the head of operations role to someone internally. The FCOO can help you train and mentor that person to level them up into the role.

The next step is to decide what type of FCOO is best suited for your business.

What Type of Leader Do You Need?

In terms of size and scale, I’ve seen two major types of businesses engaging the help of a Fractional Chief Operating Officer — small and midsize businesses. There are Doer Leader and Manager Leader FCOOs custom-made for each.

The Doer Leader

If you’re a small business, you probably have five to 20 employees and one person, or maybe no one besides yourself, on your leadership team. You need help with organizational structure, processes, and better data, but you also need someone to get higher-level stuff done. I call the kind of FCOO you need a Doer Leader.

FCOOs of this type typically come at a lower price point relative to Manager Leaders. Business owners often engage them for one day per week or more. Because, in addition to their leadership role, they’re also doing more tactical operations leadership or getting multiple cross-functional projects done, they may work two or two and a half days per week.

The Manager Leader

If you’re a mid-sized business, you probably have 20 to 250 employees and have a leadership team of two or more people. Your primary need is the leadership of someone who’s already built a business as big or bigger than yours and can put into place the structure, data, management systems, and processes your business needs to get to the next level. I call this kind of person a Manager Leader.

This type of Fractional COO typically has experience with larger organizations and engages with their clients at a higher level to determine the proper structure for an organization, define its goals, establish the right metrics to ensure it achieves those goals, and then drive implementation of those goals at the leadership team level.

These FCOOs typically, though not always, work for about one day per week or less. They frequently come at a higher price point relative to Manager Leader FCOOs for the same time commitment because of the more strategic nature of their leadership and their experience running larger organizations.

What to Ask When Hiring an FCOO

As with any FL, it’s critical that you communicate your desired outcomes and deliverables. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re on the same page with your potential FCOO. Consider the following when interviewing candidates:

  • If industry experience is essential and you believe the learning curve is too great and would take too long, ensure that the FCOO candidate has the industry experience you need.
  • If you need help on a specific kind of activity or transaction, whether that’s an M&A transaction, a due diligence process, a new product rollout, or a new system rollout, make sure you’re satisfied the FCOO candidate has experience with these types of operations.
  • Be clear about whether you need or expect them to physically work in your office, whether the engagement will be fully remote, or some combination.

Although each Fractional COO engagement looks different depending on the industry, your style and values, and the organization’s size, they result in improved team health, standardized better processes, real traction toward goals, and less stress. It also means that as a business owner, you can finally regain the feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment from the businesses you founded.


This blog is part of a series that outlines some high-level considerations and offers insight into the five major types of Fractional Leadership: marketing, sales, operations, finance, and technology.

The information is a consolidation of my personal experience as a Fractional Leader (FL), retaining other FLs in businesses I managed or manage, interviews with FLs on my podcast, Win-Win—An Entrepreneurial Community, and my network and relationships with other FLs.

My experience in operations and being a Fractional Leader in companies running on EOS certainly contribute to my knowledge of operations. I am not, however, a subject matter expert in marketing, sales, finance, or technology. I’ve written these topics with reliance on business owners and FLs in those fields — from a 30,000-foot perspective.

If your company’s marketing or sales efforts aren’t generating the level of performance you need, check out my blogs discussing the Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (FCMO) and Fractional Chief Sales Officer (CSO).

What Is Fractional Leadership and Can It Help Your Business?

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As a small business owner, have you reached the point in your journey where you’ve hit a “ceiling,” or what I call the Entrepreneurial Catch-22, in your business growth? A point where you can’t scale without bringing on an experienced C-level leader, but you also can’t afford someone like that until after your business has scaled.

Most entrepreneurs who survive the startup phase experience some variation of this. Don’t worry — there’s a solution: It’s called Fractional Leadership (FL). Working with a fractional leader can help your business break through that ceiling and escape the Entrepreneurial Catch-22.

Fractional Leadership means engaging with an experienced C-level executive who’s already scaled an organization like yours. By hiring a fractional leader and making them a part of your leadership team, you will fast-track your ability to break through the ceilings holding you back for a fraction of what it costs to hire someone like that full-time.

Why do so many founder-led businesses hit the ceiling again and again after passing through the startup phase? I believe it is usually because the people on the founding leadership team have never run a business that size before. And they certainly haven’t led a company as big as they want theirs to become.

The data backs this up. Contrary to the stereotype of entrepreneurs as experienced, savvy serial business starters, about 90 percent of startups are founded by people who never started a business before. If you’re feeling alone, like there’s something wrong with you because you don’t know how to solve the problems your business is facing now, you’re not. You’re just like 90 percent of the other small and midsize business owners out there.

Fractional Leadership Can Work for Any Small Business

My first FL client was a media company that creates ad placements on popular websites. In doing so, the media company gives their clients more revenue than they could get on their own. They grew 25 percent revenue in the first quarter I worked with them.

This was not because I have magical or mystical powers or am an ad tech guru. It was because I’d built a business from smaller than theirs to much bigger before. I knew where the pitfalls were and what challenges they were facing, and I’d already learned what to do through trial and error. I helped them skip past the learning curve.

Because they had me on board, there was no need for them to reinvent the wheel. I helped them gain the focus and discipline they needed to immediately attack some of the low-hanging fruit — the little things that were holding them back. They simply didn’t know how to do it.

Another of my clients was a cybersecurity firm that contracts with federal agencies. Their sales team had been hitting the ceiling for a while, and no matter what they tried, they couldn’t breakthrough. When I suggested they consider a fractional chief security officer (FCSO), the CEO was initially hesitant even though he had already retained me as a Fractional Leader!

I assured him he would get a lot further by trying it out than continuing to bang his head against the wall. So he bit the bullet and interviewed three FCSOs I introduced him to, each with relevant federal contracting experience.

Fast forward three months later. Kristen McGarr of Adroit Insights, the FCSO he chose, had embedded herself with the team on the days she spent there. She cost much less than the salary, bonus, benefits, and taxes they would have paid hiring someone full-time, and as a vendor, she started and ramped up in weeks, not months, as a major executive hire would have.

Kristen hit the ground running, learning how things worked and using her past success and knowledge to restructure the sales process. She knew what was important to track, coached the existing team to dramatically increase their closed sales, and hired and trained new team members to position them to grow. They grew more in the first year after retaining her than they had in the previous four.

Outsourcing Customer Service — Fine. But C-Level Leadership?

People know about outsourcing and utilizing freelancers for less-skilled activities like answering phones, data entry, and virtual assistance. In fact, the global outsourcing market for IT alone was $333.7 billion in 2019. But it sounds crazy to think of outsourcing C-level executive Leadership. Right?

But the truth is that Fractional Leadership isn’t as foreign a concept as it initially appears. There are elements of it in the way we have been using attorneys and accountants for decades, if not centuries. We consult with someone about the most sensitive parts of our business and accept their guidance and leadership in our financial, compliance, and legal decision-making even though they aren’t full-time employees and only bill us by the hour.

If your business is hitting the ceiling and you and your leadership team aren’t sure what to do about it but aren’t scaled big enough to bring the experience and expertise you need in-house, full-time, you aren’t the only one.

In the United States alone, the latest data available (2017) from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy shows 5.3 million businesses with 1-19 employees and nearly 6 million with up to 499 employees, with total small firms making up 99 percent of U.S. businesses.

Let me remind you, the vast majority of those business owners have never done this before either. But the fact that you’re reading this blog right now means you’re ready to explore how your business can break through that ceiling and grow!

Visit fractionalleadership.io or contact us today to learn more about how to take your business to the next level.

Are You Increasing Your Prices Enough?

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We’ve seen a significant uptick in inflationary pressure across the country, with no signs of it abating.  Labor increases are driving all costs up, so now is the time to manage your margins diligently — and to determine if you’re increasing your prices enough.

Gross Margin and Labor Efficiency

Gross profit is revenue less any direct material costs, including subcontracted work.  For a construction company, for example, direct material costs would be sticks and bricks as well as subcontractors.  The remainder is your gross profit.

I’m a subscriber to Greg Crabtree’s Simple Numbers concept, which relies heavily on maximizing labor efficiency.  Most small- and medium-sized businesses do not track or monitor this number, but it is a simple concept.  Direct Labor Efficiency (as opposed to administrative or marketing labor) is your gross profit divided by your total labor costs (including benefits and taxes). For example, if your gross profit for the period is $3MM and your direct labor costs are $1.5MM, your labor efficiency ratio would be 2.0.

A good target for Direct Labor Efficiency is 2.75, but that will vary by industry.  Consider benchmarking your numbers against industry averages to start.

Gross Margin is a related metric that is the percentage of your direct materials and direct labor to revenue. For instance, if your revenue for a period was $4MM and your direct materials plus direct labor is $2.5MM, then your Gross Margin Percentage is 37.5%.  Although gross margin is important to monitor, normally, you don’t have as much control over your vendor pricing as you do with maximizing your labor.  That is why we recommend focusing on maximizing Labor Efficiency.

How to Maximize Labor Efficiency

There are a number of strategies to maximize labor efficiency. However, my experience leans towards involving your operations/production team in solving the problem and incentivizing them based upon the results.  Top-down approaches don’t usually work as well as letting people solve the problem themselves.

Give them a clear understanding of the problem they’re trying to solve.  In these instances, I recommend breaking the problem down to an as granular level as possible.  For instance, don’t simply identify one location that has better labor efficiency than another and say fix it.  Go to the shop floor, find the differences, and solve those problems.

Pricing As a Strategy

More than likely, you have some discretion in increasing your prices immediately.  Analyze your customers by gross margin and unload the bottom 10-20% of them.  Most of the time, you will find that you have large volume customers that aren’t contributing much margin.

Reciprocally, you have the top 10-20% of your customers that will pay you more.  Have conversations with them to determine if there are any revenue opportunities (e.g., items/services that are ancillary but you don’t currently offer). Combining those two actions will have a tremendous impact on your gross profit and bottom line.

Should you need help in executing your financial growth, consider outsourcing a fractional CFO to guide your team through the business growth process. Learn more about fractional leadership here.

About the Author

As CEO of Core Group, a profit-first business and financial services firm, and a Forbes Business Council member, Christian Brim and his team help companies grow their business while saving taxes. To learn more, contact Christian on LinkedIn or visit coregroupus.com.

Jumpstart Your Business Growth With a Fractional COO

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“I dream things that never were, and I say ‘Why not?'” — George Bernard Shaw

As an entrepreneur, you leapt headlong into your venture without all the answers, confident you’d figure out what you need to know along the way. Wearing many hats and spinning lots of plates, you inspired others to join you, and, together, you grew. Now your business has hit an impasse or plateau. You know what got you here isn’t going to get you where you want to go. But you’ve maxed out your capacity and don’t have the in-house knowledge, skills, experience, or perspective to do what’s necessary to take things to the next level.

If this sounds like you, congratulations! You’ve already built a viable small business. What’s more, you may be just one key hire away from jumpstarting your next phase of breakthrough growth.

Why a Fractional Leader?

With the fractional model, you gain access to a higher level of executive leadership whose talent and experience would otherwise be unavailable to you. Fractional leaders aren’t cheap, but they can be affordable to a small business or cash-strapped startup because they work only part-time for each client and typically don’t require benefits or equity.

In essence, you’re “renting” a fractional executive for a period of time to help your business grow to the next level. Once your fractional executive has accomplished that goal for you, they’re usually happy to help you find, hire, and groom their full-time replacement, if necessary. Then they move on to their next growth challenge — generally what excites them most.

You may be wondering: With so much to do, how can a fractional executive possibly transform my business if they’re not working full time? The short answer is it depends on how you use them. If you’re looking for someone to take mundane tasks off your plate, you’re unlikely to achieve the level of growth you’re seeking.

But if you let them focus primarily on growing the business, an experienced fractional exec can get the job done much faster, more effectively, and with far less risk than a first-timer. One way to think of it: hiring a fractional executive is like plugging your business into a higher voltage battery. While you may not need to use all the battery’s power to run your company just yet, the engine that will drive your business’s growth won’t even start without it.

Why Start With a Fractional COO?

Today, you can hire all kinds of fractional executives — CMOs, CFOs, CHROs, etc. Many founders/CEOs build whole teams of fractional executives to grow their businesses. However, if you’re considering your first fractional hire, and you need help growing your business more or less across the board, you may be best off starting with a fractional chief operating officer (COO).

Why? While the function of a COO varies from business to business, the scope of a true COO’s responsibility is the entire organization, not just a single business function. They must take a holistic view of the business and understand how it all works together as a dynamic system — made up of interconnected functions, processes, inputs and outputs — itself part of an even larger system, for example, the marketplace.

In addition, a fractional COO often has deep hands-on experience in most, if not all, aspects of a business — sales, marketing, product development, finance, technology, HR, customer service. They not only understand the system as a whole but also have at least working knowledge of the different subsystems and how they all relate to each other and the whole.

To use a medical analogy, one of the functions of a good COO is to serve as a sort of trusted primary care physician who can evaluate the health of your entire business, make accurate diagnoses, prescribe the right treatments or cures, and refer you to specialists as necessary.

To carry the analogy further, they must also have an excellent bedside manner, knowing how to communicate effectively with all different types of employees, across all functions and contexts, 360 degrees, as well as customers, vendors, partners, investors, and so on.

Executing for Business Growth

However, the “doctor” analogy stops there. A fractional COO isn’t a mere consultant who spends the metaphorical equivalent of 15 minutes examining your business, writes you a prescription, and then beats a hasty retreat. No, a fractional COO works in your business as well as on your business, moving fluidly from analysis, strategy, and planning to execution; driving progress each week; holding people accountable for results; testing, measuring, learning, and — if they’re doing their job — continuously improving performance and growing your top and bottom lines.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”

A great fractional COO will take your vision and run with it, in the process making your long-sought business dream a present-day reality. You can learn more about the benefits of fractional leadership here.

About the Author

Mark Scrimenti is a Fractional COO and Fractional Integrator for businesses running on EOS. He has 15-plus years of leadership experience in e-commerce, digital product development, sales, marketing, and customer experience. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn or visit his website at vividpathconsulting.com if you’re ready to jumpstart your own business’s growth.