Zachary King
August 11, 2023

The Fractional Revolution

The corporate landscape has been dramatically transformed following the pandemic, leading to the rise of the Fractional Executive Revolution and the introduction of the Gig Economy to the C-Suite. This seismic shift has created on-demand leadership options for high-growth companies, reshaped the traditional career path for senior executives and sparked the development of new, flexible leadership models.

As the founder of the Fractional Exec Community, I've had the privilege of engaging with hundreds of Fractional Executives from all over the globe. This has granted me a comprehensive understanding of the shifting corporate landscape and the rise of Fractional Executives. Having personally witnessed the transformative power of fractional leadership and its far-reaching benefits for both individuals and companies, I am convinced of its potential to reshape the future of work in the C-Suite.

My extensive interactions with these innovators have been instrumental in informing this article and our collective efforts to navigate the opportunities and challenges in this exciting new realm.

In this article we aim to unravel:

  • The definition of a Fractional Executive
  • The range of expertise available in fractional roles
  • Common engagement models for fractional executives
  • The benefits and potential risks of hiring Fractional Executives


Several factors are accelerating the Fractional Executive trend. Firstly, the ongoing "Tech Apocalypse" has created an abundance of talent, as numerous tech companies undergo restructuring. Secondly, the shift in funding paradigms towards profitability and sustainability counters the previous growth-at-all-costs mindset; requiring senior expertise to be injected, even when budgets are tight.

Lastly, the pandemic has catalyzed two significant shifts: the acceptance of remote work, which allows executives to operate globally, and the pursuit of a healthier work-life balance by senior executives. Both these trends fuel the rise of flexible work arrangements, driving the Fractional Executive Revolution.

What Is A Fractional Executive?

A Fractional Executive is a seasoned business leader who brings their skills and experience to a company on a part-time basis, typically for a specified period. Unlike consultants, they usually assume both strategic and operational responsibilities. As members of the leadership team, they hold direct accountability for key results. The primary advantage of hiring a Fractional Executive is to gain access to experienced leadership in a cost-effective, focused way.

Fractional Versus Consultant

The challenge of driving growth goes beyond crafting a well-thought-out strategy. Clayton Christensen, the father of disruptive innovation, rightly said, "In the end, strategy is nothing but good intentions unless it is implemented effectively." This statement reflects the reality of many startups that struggle to bridge the gap between strategic planning and its successful execution.

This is where Fractional Executives shine. Unlike consultants who may deliver a strategy presentation and then leave the implementation up to you, Fractional Executives are in it for the long haul. They don’t just parachute in and then disappear. They are committed partners invested in your success.  I’ve seen relationships that continue on for years in a fractional capacity as well as shorter term engagements that include the hiring and training of a replacement, it really depends on what the business needs.

Fractional Executives roll up their sleeves and get into the trenches with your team. They are hands-on and involved in every aspect of execution - from designing the sales process, managing the team, writing persuasive copy, to even taking crucial sales meetings. They bring their wealth of experience and expertise to the table and work closely with your team to ensure that the strategy is successfully implemented, building the capability, resources, systems and processes required to do so.

In short, Fractional Executives help turn strategy into action, transforming good intentions into tangible results. They are the vital bridge between your strategic vision and its effective execution.

Fractional Engagement Models

Companies employ various models to engage Fractional talent, including:

  • Flat Retainer: A fixed fee structure paid weekly or monthly in exchange for a predetermined amount of time (e.g., $7k per month for working one day per week). This usually involves a mix of strategic and operational responsibilities agreed upon by both parties.
  • Hourly Rate: A fixed hourly rate, with the time spent to be negotiated between the parties.
  • Retainer + Surge Hours: A fixed weekly or monthly fee plus an additional hourly rate for any agreed-upon overtime hours.
  • Per Day Rate: This model often features different rates for recurring engagements versus one-off events, workshops, etc.
  • Coaching/Mentoring Packages: A strategic planning workshop accompanied by additional one-on-one weekly calls.
  • Advisory Role: A fixed rate for monthly calls offering strategic and operational guidance.
  • Co-Op: A formal arrangement with a network of fractional operators who share knowledge and advice while having a client lead (e.g.,

Typically, working 0.5-2.5 days per week is a common model in the Fractional Executive landscape.

The Cost Of Hiring A Fractional Executive

Compensation for Fractional Executives varies wildly based on factors like industry, experience, company stage, and location. Fractional Exec Community members have reported rates ranging from $100-$300 per hour, $1,000-$3,500 per day, or $3,500-$20,000 per month.

As a rule of thumb, anticipate paying around 60-70% of what you'd spend on an equivalent full-time executive for 2.5 days per week. This strategy allows you to apply experience and expertise in a highly targeted and controlled manner, ensuring cost-effectiveness and flexibility.

The Benefits Of Fractional Execs

Hiring a Fractional Executive offers several significant advantages:

  1. Early Access to Experienced Executives: Fractional Executives can be engaged at an earlier stage in a company's development than would be feasible for a full-time hire or at a strategic turning point where the current functional leader would have reached the extend of their expertise. This provides the company with an immediate boost in expertise and leadership in the required area(s).
  2. Efficiency and Focus: Fractional Executives apply their experience and expertise in a highly targeted and efficient manner. They can assist with launching a new product or entering a market, reviewing and implementing a sales/marketing strategy, or developing a new feature or product.
  3. Access to Top Talent: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many senior executives have transitioned away from full-time employment. Engaging these executives in a fractional capacity may be the only way to access their unique skill sets and industry experience.

Overall, Fractional Executives provide a flexible, cost-effective solution for companies seeking experienced leadership and strategic guidance.

Navigating The Challenges Of Hiring Fractional Executives

  1. Mismatched Expectations: Companies might expect a Fractional Executive to operate like a full-time employee, leading to possible disappointment. Clear definition of roles, responsibilities, and time commitments at the outset of the engagement can help avoid this.
  1. The Importance of Cultural Fit: Fractional Executives may not be on-site full-time, but their success is often dependent on their ability to understand and integrate into the company culture. Choosing a Fractional Executive who aligns with your company's values and style is absolutely essential.
  1. Knowledge Transfer: Being part-time can present challenges for Fractional Executives in transferring their knowledge and skills to the permanent team. Implementing regular meetings and documentation processes can help mitigate this risk.
  1. Alignment of Incentives and Objectives: To ensure that a Fractional Executive's impact lasts beyond their tenure, their objectives and incentives should align with the long-term success of the company.
  1. Dependence Risk: Companies can risk becoming overly dependent on their Fractional Executives. Building internal capabilities and succession plans can help manage this risk.

These potential pitfalls can be mitigated through clear communication, setting realistic expectations, and careful planning.

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Models Of Fractional Executives

  • Moonlighters - someone who has a fulltime job but works as a fractional exec after hours.
  • Side Fractioneers: fractionals who have another business or perhaps do not wish to work full time any more, but enjoy the work and want to remain active in their chosen profession.  This often includes early stage Founders as well as those are semi-retired from corporate life.
  • Full time Fractionals: those who operate as fractionals as their fulltime pursuit and enjoy the variety, the focus on core functionality and the lack of corporate politics.
My fractional work has actually increased my ability to perform at my day job by sharpening my skills and exposing me to a broader array of companies.

Nathan Clark, Director Sales Enablement at UpGuard, Fractional Sales Coach for B2B

I started working as a fractional VP Sales as our healthcare startup is taking longer to scale than anticipated. I absolutely love the variety of work that I see and get a massive kick out of helping early stage companies build a scaleable, repeatable sales machine.

Zachary King, Fractional VP Sales, CoFounder Mobius

I was exposed to the Fractional Model in my last Technology company and immediately fell in love with it. I want to help Startups stop making the same mistakes and I just really enjoy helping companies get their operations up to a world-class level; helping them hit the next level of their growth.

Shona Grundy, Fractional COO

Fractional Partnerships

  • Marketplace: can be either based around a single functional area (ie fracCFOs for Financial Support) or with an aligned group to solve a particular problem such as Revenue (Sales and Marketing fractionals).  The marketplace takes on the role of finding clients and then matching them with fractional executives.
  • Co-Op Model: a cooperative arrangement among a group of fractional executives who share resources, knowledge, and clients. Each fractional executive maintains independence but collaborates on larger projects requiring multi-faceted expertise. This model leverages collective expertise, offering clients a comprehensive approach to their business needs while fostering a sense of community and support among the fractional executives.
We match companies with one of our vetted, Growth Connect-certified fractional CMOs. Once confirmed it’s a good fit, the fCMO will build and lead your marketing team — hiring and training internal team members, managing the marketing budget, and overseeing marketing initiatives — but without requiring the expenditures and obligations of a full-time hire. Once the team is operating at peak performance, the fractional CMO moves into a coaching or advisory role, remaining accessible for as long as you need them.

Scott Pressimone, Head Growth Connect

The Proxi Way programme, led by a fractional Chief Marketing Officer, has been designed to enable rapidly growing companies to engage with experienced business leaders at an affordable cost - not two programmes are the same as we tailor our approach to your business needs.  We share aspects like Business Development across the group but each engagement has a dedicated lead Fractional CMO matched based industry and Go-to-Market experience. We call on the expertise of other Proxi CMOs when needed, for the client’s benefit.

Christelle Blanchet-Aissaoui, Fractional CMO and Co-Founder of Proxi

Revolution: The New Era Of Fractional Executives

The growing acceptance of flexible work at a senior level is benefiting both individuals and businesses alike. Fractional Executives, with their strategic expertise and operational approach, are being deployed to tackle particular challenges or manage specific subdivisions within companies. This provides an effective way for businesses to rapidly expand, experiment, or hone their operations in new areas, with the Fractional Executive often working far less than the traditional 40+ hours per week, yet maintaining a hands-on role that exceeds that of a standard advisor.

For seasoned leaders, fractional arrangements offer a fresh model of work, one that allows them to continue exercising their leadership skills while ensuring a balance that traditional full-time roles may not permit. For the growing business, the same arrangement offers an efficient and cost-effective way to access high-level expertise.

These fractional roles can either morph into full-time executive positions over time, or they may remain as part-time commitments for several years. Irrespective of how long they last, Fractional Executives often use their newly discovered time to give back to the community, mentor startups, seek personal growth, or strike a better work-life balance.

As the landscape of corporate leadership continues to evolve, Fractional Executives are poised to play a significant role in shaping this future. If you are an experienced leader considering a fractional career or a company intrigued by the potential of engaging a Fractional Executive, we encourage you to explore this promising paradigm further.

I'm always available to share my insights, provide guidance, and facilitate connections within the Fractional Executive community. Feel free to reach out to me directly at

Whether you're an aspiring Fractional Executive or a business eager to leverage this unique expertise, let's explore the future of leadership together.

The Future is Fractional!