How to Get the Most Out of a Fractional COO

by | Business Advice, For Entrepreneurs, Operations Management

Let’s face it: when starting a new business, you have a lot on your plate.

You’re juggling a million different projects, managing all kinds of teams, and trying to deliver a product or service that people love. It adds up fast, and before you know it, you’re not getting to everything that needs to be done.

And that’s where you might want to stop and consider bringing in a Fractional COO – someone who can help you navigate the ins and outs of running a company so that you can focus on the things that grow your business.

A part-time Chief Operating Officer (COO) can play a vital role in helping you scale your business. They partner with you on everything from strategy to execution and can take on some of the day-to-day tasks that you’d rather not do.

But how do you know if a Fractional COO is right for your business? And how can you be sure that they’ll be able to hit the ground running?

Let’s explore some of the most common questions about a Fractional COO and take a look at how you can get the most out of their skills and experience.

What is a Fractional COO?

Fractional COOs are the hottest thing in the business world. They’re a way for companies to get the expertise of an experienced executive without having to pay the full-time salary and benefits.

A Fractional Chief Operating Officer (F-COO) is a C-Suite executive responsible for running the company’s operations and day-to-day activities. This includes overseeing operations and tasks related to sales, marketing, finance, and human resources.

Fractional COOs are leaders hired on a part-time or project basis to supplement the work of a CEO. They can be brought in for short-term assignments for a specific project or on a long-term engagement as part of the executive team.

The role of a Fractional COO is to focus on the operational areas that drive company success. They provide leadership and direction to your team and make sure everyone is aligned with your vision and strategy – leaving you to focus on activities that grow and expand your business.

What is a Fractional COO? Business woman in front of a whiteboard

What Makes a Good Fractional COO?

The most important consideration when hiring an F-COO is to find someone with experience working with businesses like yours.

The responsibilities of a Fractional COO can vary widely depending on the type and size of your business. For example, a small business might not have much need for someone with extensive financial knowledge when it comes to making payroll or filing taxes every quarter. On the other hand, larger companies might require someone who has strong financial management skills because they have multiple locations around the country or even around the world that need to be managed effectively from headquarters.

And don’t just look at technical skills sets – look for someone who will be a good fit for your business culture. You want someone who will work well with you and your team.

Businesswoman writing on whiteboard in office

How is a F-COO different from an Operations Director/Project Manager?

At first glance, a Fractional COO role may seem similar to an Operations Director or Project Manager in that it involves operational work, but the positions are not the same.

An F-COO helps run the business day-to-day and thinks strategically about what lies ahead. They play a crucial role in helping to develop your business strategy and are responsible for executing that strategy.

That means a Fractional COO is responsible for evaluating and operating all aspects of a business. They provide leadership and direction to the primary functions of the business – Sales/Marketing, Finance/Administration, and Operations – just like a full-time COO would.

An Operations Director has responsibility for operations but does not have responsibility for Sales/Marketing or Finance/Administration.

A Project Manager only has responsibility for specific projects or initiatives within a functional area.

Business meeting - people looking at a chart on a whiteboard

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Fractional COO

The business world is evolving rapidly, and the way you do things needs to change to keep up.

Here are seven key areas a Fractional COO can make a big impact on your business:

1. Strategic planning

Strategy and planning are at the heart of what a Fractional COO does and how they can create significant results for your business.

A Fractional COO can help you create short and long-term strategies by providing insight on how to set realistic goals. They can also offer guidance on developing strategic plans that work within your budget and timeline.

A good F-COO is an expert at developing strategies to keep your business growing and profitable over the long term.

2. Outcome-focused strategies

While many companies think they already have a clear idea of their strategies, this is often not the case. Team members may feel that business strategies are vague, and they’re not sure of their role in implementing strategies.

An F-COO can ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and develop accountability mechanisms so that team members know precisely what they need to do to achieve business goals.

An excellent Fractional COO creates action plans that get results, constantly monitoring progress along the way to provide insight into how to make them even more effective.

3. Effective prioritization of goals

Yes, a Fractional COO helps you set realistic and achievable goals based on their knowledge and experience. But they’ll take it a step further and help you prioritize goals so that you’re not trying to move forward on too many initiatives at once.

Unfortunately, no one has unlimited resources, and to achieve goals, you must prioritize and sequence activities for maximum effectiveness. Accurately evaluating the organizational impact of actions needed to achieve goals and correcting sequencing those activities is essential to achieving goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.

People high-fiving in a meeting

4. Macro and micro perspective

One of the main benefits of having a COO on your team is that they can provide insight into both the big picture and the details. A Fractional COO will be able to help you assess overarching aspects of your business while at the same time offer tailored solutions for specific problems the business is facing.

This mix of big-picture thinking and hands-on execution creates an ideal working relationship between the CEO and the Fractional COO.

5. Proactive communication across functions

A Fractional COO can serve as the connecting point between various departments and functions. Everyone knows that communication is the best way to ensure that all parties are on the same page. But while communication is good, proactive communication is even better.

A Fractional COO has the experience necessary to evaluate multiple data points across several functional areas and quickly determine what information needs to be shared across different functions.

By effectively sharing information before people need it, operations can run more smoothly across the business.

6. Enhanced utilization of resources

Your Fractional COO can be a tremendous asset in helping you determine, find, and use the right resources for your business. And they can also help you determine whether your current resources are being used efficiently or if they need to be repurposed to meet your company’s goals better.

Your business can’t grow if you’re not fully leveraging your resources.

7. C-Suite level experience

The leadership capabilities of a Fractional COO come from years of experience at a C-level with direct responsibility for revenue generation, profit, loss, budgeting, and operations of companies similar in size and complexity to yours.

An F-COO already knows how to lead a team, delegate tasks, and manage resources effectively. They know what challenges your business may face and how to overcome them.

Young business people smiling in a meeting

As the owner of a business, it’s important that you’re able to maintain focus on your primary responsibility – to grow the business. But that’s hard to do if you keep getting sucked in on day-to-day operations. The background and expertise of an F-COO make it possible for you to remain focused on growing your business without spending all your time running your business.

If you think a Fractional COO is right for your business, it’s time to schedule a conversation and learn more. Whether you’re interested in adding an F-COO to your team or just want to know more about the role, we can help!