The 411 on Deciding to Hire a Fractional COO

The 411 on Deciding to Hire a Fractional COO

Deciding whether to hire a fractional COO isn’t as complex as you might think. It’s merely a way of bringing in temporary or interim management for small businesses that may not need or can afford a full-time manager.

When you hire a Fractional Chief Operating Officer (F-COO), you gain the benefits of a top operations executive without having to pay for them full-time. This can help you reach your goals, gain strategic advantages, and grow your business without blowing your budget.

Sometimes they’re brought in for a specific period or for a specific project. The word “fractional” denotes that the position is part-time or as-needed, not full-time. Think of it as much-needed expertise and leadership on a flexible schedule.

Why Hire a Fractional COO?

There are several benefits to considering a Fractional COO for your business.

F-COOs are Cost-Effective

Typically hired on a part-time or project basis means they’re less costly than hiring a full-time COO.

F-COOs are Experts

Whether it’s for a specific time or project, they’re seasoned professionals who can bring with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise.

F-COOs are Flexible 

Adaptability is necessary for changing business conditions, and they can be brought in as needed, rather than being a full-time employee that may be difficult to let go.

F-COOs are Objective

Since they are less emotionally invested in your company and its operations, that can make it easier to identify and address problems and provide an objective view of areas that need improvement.

F-COOs are Scalable

You get the ability to scale your operations as needed. This is particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses that don’t need a full-time COO but still benefit from the expertise and leadership of one.

However, while there are many benefits to hiring a fractional COO, there are also some potential downsides to consider.

Limited Availability

Since they may not be available to your company on a full-time basis, that can make it difficult to get the support and guidance you need in a timely manner.

Limited Commitment

Since they’re not committed to your company on a long-term basis, that can make it difficult for them to fully understand and invest in your goals and objectives.

Limited Continuity 

Since they’re not full-time, you won’t have continuity in both leadership and the direction of your company, which can be disruptive to your day-to-day operations.

Limited Decision-Making Power

Since they may not have the same decision-making power as a full-time COO, that can make it difficult to implement changes and improvements in operations.

Limited Time for Establishing Credibility and Trust

They likely will have limited time to establish trust and credibility with your employees and stakeholders, which can make it difficult to be effective in their role.

Always do your due diligence and weigh the pros and cons of hiring a fractional COO before making a decision, and be aware of the potential limitations of such an arrangement.

Is a Fractional COO Right for Your Business?

This largely depends on the needs and goals of your company. Below are a few factors to consider when determining whether a fractional COO is a good fit for your business.

Scale of Operations

If your business is small or medium-sized, a fractional COO may be a good fit, as they can provide the expertise and leadership you need on a part-time or project basis.


If your business has limited resources and cannot afford a full-time COO, a fractional COO could be a great solution.

Short-Term Needs

If your business has a specific project or goal that requires a temporary COO, a fractional COO may be the right choice.

Current Management Structure

If your business already has a solid management structure in place, a fractional COO can provide additional support and guidance to help take your company to the next level.


If your business needs to adapt to changing market conditions, a fractional COO may be able to provide the flexibility you need to make changes quickly.

Ultimately, it’s important to carefully evaluate your business’s needs and goals before deciding whether to hire a fractional COO. It may be beneficial to consult with a business consultant or advisor to help assess the need and feasibility of hiring a fractional COO.

Tips for Choosing a Fractional COO

Choosing an F-COO should require careful consideration because you want to make sure the person is the best possible fit. Below are a few tips to help you make your decision.

  • Clearly define specific goals and needs an F-COO will be responsible for and make sure any candidate you consider has the appropriate skills and experience to meet those needs.
  • Consider a candidate’s personality, management style, and communication skills. You want them to be able to integrate well with your current team.
  • Sounds like a no-brainer, but ask for references from a candidate’s previous clients and get the details on their experiences working with the candidate in their own words.
  • Try to find candidates who have experience in the same or similar industry as your business and in working with companies of similar size and scope.
  • Before hiring a fractional COO, review the terms of the contract carefully and make sure it clearly outlines responsibilities, compensation, and the expectations of both parties.
  • Look for an effective communicator and ensure they clearly understand how to communicate with your team and stakeholders.
  • Consider how long you plan to use the F-COO and whether their availability aligns with the specific needs and goals of your business.
  • Regularly evaluate the performance of whomever you choose, and make adjustments as necessary. After all, you hire an F-COO to reduce costs associated with hiring someone full-time. You don’t want to keep paying someone who’s not meeting expectations.

Finding the right fractional COO for your business can take some time, but when you do find “the one,” they are well worth the investment!

Interested? Talk to StellaPop! 


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