When to Go Fractional: A Strategic Guide to Hiring C-Level Executives for Growth

When to Go Fractional: A Strategic Guide to Hiring C-Level Executives for Growth 

Fractional C-level executives, including Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), are a rapidly growing trend in today’s corporate world. This shift aligns with the expanding ‘Gig’ economy. Statista reported that in 2023, over 70 million people in the US worked independently in various capacities. Based on research from Upwork and Edelman, Statista projects this number to rise to over 90.1 million by 2028. 

The availability of experienced executives on a non-permanent or partial basis has opened new avenues for companies. Smaller businesses now have access to seasoned management professionals within limited budget constraints, and larger companies can bring in specialized expertise for projects with lower risk. However, the key question remains: when is the right time to leverage this innovative option?

Startup Phase

In the early stages of a startup, making the right strategic decisions is crucial. Incubators often bring in experienced executives to mentor entrepreneurs, as an example. While hiring a fractional CMO might seem costly, the strategic direction they provide is invaluable. A misstep at this stage can lead to failure, whereas the right guidance can set the company on the path to success. Engaging a fractional CMO to establish a marketing strategy, brand identity, and demand generation plan offers flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

Scale-Up Phase

As a company transitions from startup to scale-up, securing Series A funding becomes a pivotal milestone. Fractional C-level executives play a crucial role during this phase, assisting in preparing the company for funding rounds by refining strategy, ensuring financial readiness, and setting plans for future growth, including the plan for how the additional investment will be used. A fractional’s expertise at navigating rapid expansion and scaling operations – instills confidence with investors. That in turn, improves the company’s odds of securing further funding to help it grow. Fractional CMOs specifically provide strategic oversight and execution, enabling companies to capitalize on growth opportunities without the commitment of a full-time hire.

Small to Medium-Sized Phase

Even as companies grow beyond the startup phase, there are strategic projects that need specialized expertise. Small to medium-sized companies often lack the tenured resources to undertake such initiatives effectively. Fractional executives fill this gap by bringing in-depth experience and insights, accelerating project initiation and ensuring a solid foundation for success. Whether it’s bridging the sales-to-marketing divide, conducting competitive analysis, initiating analyst relations programs, implementing retention marketing strategies, or setting up crisis communications teams, fractional C-levels bring targeted solutions to get these project up and running faster.

But … When to Bring on a Fractional?

In each of the three case above, it’s clear that fractional executives serve different purposes depending on the phase of growth of the company. And for each there is an ideal time to bring in such a resource. For startups, bring on the fractionals as soon as possible. This will help you set out a pragmatic and effective strategy – to point you in the right direction. For scaleups, bring on fractional executives to set up the plans, metrics, and structures for growth that your investors will want to review. It will give them the confidence that your company is both on a sound footing, as well as setup for scaling. Finally, for small and medium-sized companies – bring on the fractionals to guide the team or take on strategic project that need the experience of ‘having done it before’. As usual, the longer you delay – the more potential that a challenge today may fester into a crisis of tomorrow. 

Keep in mind that fractionals are low risk / low commitment executive help. In other words, these are professionals you bring on when you need them. They are often brought on for either short or fixed periods. This provides the company with tremendous flexibility, at very little risk (unlike hiring a full time CMO, for example). 

Given that fractional c-levels are low-risk propositions, CEOs need not over-think it. You are hiring someone who has already been a senior executive for many years, and it is a self-starter. Give them some clarity on what you need, then get them going. Set out the costs, scope out what is needed, allocate the right budget for a senior executive, then bring on the fractional who can help pull the organization forward. Doing so quickly is only going to put you on the right track for growth, faster.

Discover how Aventi Group’s expertise can elevate your strategic initiatives. Let’s discuss the possibilities for your business growth today. 

Written By

Charles Dimov

Charles Dimov is a Vice President of Demand Generation Marketing with over 25 years of leadership experience in high-tech industries, specializing in cloud-based SaaS systems and AI technology. He excels in creating and executing Go To Market strategies aimed at acquisition, retention, and growth marketing, significantly enhancing revenue and customer base while reducing operational costs. Charles is known for his innovative approaches in demand generation, content marketing, and digital marketing. He has led teams in startups, scale-ups, and Fortune 100 companies, and has shared his expertise as a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto and other notable venues.