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What's it like being a fractional employee?

A friend recommended recently that becoming a fractional employee may be a good fit for me.

If you do or have done that, what's the experience been like? What advice would you give for someone trying it out?

I work in design, and it seems that a lot of fractional work right now may be more focused on C-level at startups. Maybe I'm misreading that, though?

I don't find a ton of resources when I search LinkedIn or elsewhere to learn about the career lifestyle.

iynna's profile thumbnail
At its core, a fractional employee is someone who would work PT but for several different employers/company. It is different from say a part time employee / contractor because it still carries out the day to day (not just a project). I've seen this for CTO and CFO but perhaps this exists too for designers? Think of it as representing a number of firms on their different missions. It's a sweet model because you're not tied to one particular employer and you're always working, I imagine it requires A+ time management skills.
dz's profile thumbnail
I'm a fractional CTO and I love it. I have also worked as a freelance designer and a consultant, so I'm happy to diff these experiences for you. What are the main reasons you want to move away from traditional employment?
amandajude's profile thumbnail
I'd love to hear more, too!
dz's profile thumbnail
iynna's profile thumbnail
HAHA I came here to tag your post - so thank you @dz !!
margaretcezar341's profile thumbnail
I'm interested to learn more. Following
jenniferyates's profile thumbnail
Following. I'm interested in being a fractional business ops leader.
KathyS99's profile thumbnail
I’ve been a fractional CFO for 3 years now and before that I worked in finance for Fortune 500s. It’s an interesting business model because you’re not an employee but you’re not a consultant either. What you do and how you do it will differ from the type of businesses that you work with. Startups are different from established businesses. And established businesses are different based on where they are in their journey/what they struggle with. As you start to work with businesses, you learn what type of stuff you like to do and what type of businesses you like working with the most. My sweet spot are businesses between a $1M-$10M in revenue that are growing and need to develop their finance structure since having a bookkeeper and accountant is not enough anymore. They need more structure and a lot more planning, meaning they have to start making decisions based on data. And that requires a different way of working and putting in financial processes that have been non-existent before. I also have my own business and I’m not working for any of the “fractional matching companies” - places that take a (high) % of your fee to match you with businesses. There is a benefit to those if you’re just starting out, but I would highly suggest to work on your own marketing and business dev items as soon as possible. Having said that, here are some of my experiences: - True fractional work can only be done with a few clients (less than 10). Unless you hire (and train) more people - which is harder to do at this level - you’re going to be limited in amount of work you can handle. Which means that you need to price accordingly and be picky on who you take on as a client. - Fractional work can last for years (one of my clients has been with me for more than 2 years now). You are stepping in to fill a leadership role until they can either afford to hire for it full-time or you both decide that they are better served with another provider. - Never ever - ever - price your service hourly or daily (a lot of fractional agencies do that). It will only lead to resentment on your and client’s side. You should feel excited to help the client and the client should never hesitate to get in touch with you. It’s extremely hard to do that when you’re both watching the clock and imagining dollar signs passing by. Also, it cheapens your expertise. If you’re doing fractional work, you’re being paid for your brain power, experience, and value you provide - not the amount of time it takes you to do something. It’s me impact that matters, not the clock. - Boundaries are important and put them in the contract. Set healthy working expectations from day 1 (whatever those look like for you). Mine are that I’m available at my working hours only, that they can expect to hear back from me within 2 business days, and I need a minimum of 2 business days notice to attend a meeting. This sets the expectation of there needs to be planning in advance and not being so reactive (which is also what I’m there to provide and teach them). Emergencies happen here and there though, so do leave some space for that too. - Just because you might be the only one that is client facing, it does not mean that you have to do everything yourself. I have 3 full time people supporting the back office operations and use contractors when needed. - You’re running a business. Which means that you have to do business development. Don’t forget about marketing even when things are full. It’s very easy to get into the “feast or famine” cycle in this. Hiring people to help when and where appropriate makes this a lot easier. - Leave time and space for regular networking. You become even more valuable to clients when you have a rolodex of trusted group of people who can help with various other aspects of the business. A good fractional person is also a matchmaker. Hope this helps!🙂
Thanks for writing! This is very enlightening.