June 29, 2023

What is a Fractional Executive and How Can One Benefit Your Business?

What is a Fractional Executive and How Can One Benefit Your Business?

Fractional executives are becoming increasingly popular for businesses of all sizes. This unique employment situation provides a professional executive who works on a part-time or as-needed basis for a company. They are typically hired to fill a specific C-level role and bring their expertise to the table without committing to a full-time position. Fractional executives are also sometimes referred to as part-time executives, consultants, or interim executives.

There are many different types of fractional executives, each with their own unique set of skills and experiences. For example, fractional CMOs specialize in marketing and advertising while fractional CFOs focus on finance or operations. Other types of fractional executives include the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), and even the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Regardless of their area of expertise, fractional executives are typically highly experienced professionals who have spent years working in a variety of different roles and industries. This makes them an ideal choice for companies that need help with a specific project or area of their business but don't want to commit to hiring a full-time executive. Startups are generally good candidates for fractional executives given the fluid nature of the process of starting a company.

Fractional Executives vs. Full-Time Executives

To fully understand fractional executives, let's contrast them with full-time executives. Clearly, one of the main differences between fractional and full-time executives is the time commitment. Fractional executives can be hired for a limited time, and their hourly rate is often higher than that of a full-time executive.

Another difference is the level of involvement in the day-to-day operations of the company. Full-time executives are responsible for managing the organization's operations, finances, and employees on a daily basis. Fractional executives, on the other hand, are not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. However, they can also provide HR resources and support for owners who may not have the time or expertise to manage their employees.

The Role of a Fractional Executive in Startups

As discussed, fractional executives are becoming increasingly popular in the startup world. They have the unique ability to provide leadership and management services to help businesses in their infancy scale and increase revenue. By bringing in an experienced executive with a specific skill set, startups gain confidence in their ability to navigate the challenges of growth and expansion.

For example, a fractional executive can bring a wealth of experience and credibility to a startup's leadership team. This can be particularly important for startups seeking investors; a fractional executive with a track record of success can help instill confidence in potential lenders.

In addition to providing specialized expertise, fractional executives can also offer mentorship and guidance to other members of the leadership team. This can be particularly valuable for startups that may not have a dedicated sales manager or marketing leader, as a fractional executive with experience in these areas can help fill the gap and provide valuable insights and guidance.

The Benefits of Hiring a Fractional Executive

Now that we've established exactly what a fractional executive is, let's take a further look at why a business would want to hire one. Here are some of the key advantages of hiring a fractional executive:

Access to Expertise and Experience

Since fractional executives have held high-level positions in various organizations, they bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and expertise with them. They have developed a perspective that considers their collective experience, and this can only help your business make better decisions to achieve its business goals.


Hiring a full-time employee can be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses with limited budgets. Fractional executives offer a cost-effective alternative to hiring a full-time executive. They work on a part-time basis, which means you only pay for the time and services you need. This arrangement also eliminates the obligation to provide benefits for your part-time employee, such as medical/dental insurance and a retirement plan.

Flexibility and Scalability

Fractional executives offer flexibility and scalability to your organization. You can hire them for a specific project or task, or for a longer-term engagement. They can also work with your existing team to provide coaching and alignment, both of which can help improve your team's performance.

Access to Talent

Most fractional executives have a vast network of talented professionals in their field. They can leverage their network to help you find the right talent for your organization, which can help you achieve your business goals.

Results-Oriented Skills

Given their employment history leading organizations, fractional executives are results-oriented and focused on delivering measurable results. They work closely with your team to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and develop strategies to achieve them. This can help bolster your organization's performance and deliverables.

Insight and Decision-Making

Fractional executives offer valuable insight and decision-making skills to your organization. They can help you identify opportunities and risks, and develop strategies to address them. This can help you gain a competitive advantage and increase profits.

Flexible Work Arrangements

It might go without saying, but fractional executives offer flexible work arrangements. As discussed earlier, this can help you save time and money. They can work remotely or on-site, depending on your needs, helping you reduce overhead costs and increasing efficiency.

The Popularity of Fractional Executives

The fractional executive trend has been observed especially among business owners and CFOs who are looking for cost-effective ways to manage their companies.

Social media has also played a role in the popularity of fractional executives. As more and more businesses turn to social media to promote their products and services, they need executives who are knowledgeable about the latest social media trends and strategies. Fractional executives can provide this expertise on a part-time basis, helping businesses to stay competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Additionally, as outsiders, fractional executives can offer unbiased opinions and insights that may not be available from within the company. This can be especially valuable for companies that are struggling to grow or adapt to changing market conditions.

Fractional Executives in Different Business Sizes

Fractional executives are not just for startups. They can also be a great asset for large- and medium-sized businesses or organizations that have already established their presence in their particular industry.

Small Businesses

Small businesses often have limited resources and may not have the budget to hire a full-time executive. A fractional executive can provide the necessary expertise and guidance to help the business grow without the added expenses of a full-time executive.

Medium-Sized Businesses

Medium-sized businesses may have a larger budget than small businesses, but they may not have the need for a full-time executive. A fractional executive can provide the necessary leadership and management skills on a part-time basis, while still allowing the business to maintain its current structure.

Large Corporations

Large corporations often have multiple departments and may need a fractional executive to oversee a specific project or department. A fractional executive can provide the necessary expertise and leadership to ensure the project is successful, without the added expenses of a full-time executive.

Working Arrangements with Fractional Executives

Fractional executives often work more like a consultants rather than full-time employees. Working arrangements with fractional executives can take many forms: part-time, full-time, hourly, project-based, or retainer-based, for example. These arrangements can be flexible and scalable, allowing companies to adjust their level of engagement as needed.

Another aspect of working with fractional executives is that they have the ability to transition smoothly between roles. Fractional executives can step in to fill an interim role, providing continuity and stability while a permanent replacement is sought. They can also work remotely, providing flexible work arrangements that can help companies meet their goals while accommodating the needs of their employees.

When it comes to choosing the right fractional executive, there are a few key factors to consider. First and foremost, you want to find someone with the experience necessary to make a real impact on your business. Look for someone who has a track record of success in leadership roles, such as a chairperson, senior vice president, or vice president. It's also important to find a fractional executive who has specialized expertise in the areas that matter most to the role they are being hired to fill.

You'll also want to find a fractional executive who can bring fresh insight and perspective to your business. Look for someone who is skilled at identifying and addressing challenges, and who can provide mentorship and guidance to your leadership teams. Strategic thinking is an important skill to consider here, especially one benefit of a fractional executive is their perspective from previous roles and industries.

Credibility is an important factor to consider. Look for someone who has a strong reputation in their industry and who can provide references or case studies that demonstrate their ability to deliver results. You wouldn't want to hire anyone who couldn't back up their skills with their reputation and sense of integrity.


The fractional executive trend is here to stay. This unique working arrangement provides benefits to all parties and is crucial to the success of startups, established businesses, and organizations of all sizes. Scalable Rev has the experience of coming alongside teams who are looking to implement the fractional executive function and can locate the right one for any corporation. What are you waiting for?

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