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Know When to Walk Away: A Guide for Fractional Leaders

I've caught myself saying the following more times than I can count: "Fractional work allows me to have all the fun associated with working at a startup without the bullsh*t associated with a startup." For most of my career, that has been true. But based on a recent experience, I have started thinking about the times when the bullsh*t of a startup does rear its ugly head and how I could advise new fractionals on how I've approached it. Here’s my list for how to know when to walk away. Reasons to Walk One of the most powerful concepts that I learned in that time is the concept of "firing a customer." There are many reasons why you might need to let a customer go: Nonpayment or chronic late payment; Violation of terms and conditions—for example, work outside scope; Unreasonable demands or expectations—3 AM replies; Abusive behavior; Lack of engagement—they forget they hired you; Misalignment of a target market; Merger and acquisitions; Legal reasons; Strategic

Why Fractionals United

I was doing fractional COO work before it was called that, went full-time briefly with one of my previous fractional clients, and returned to a very different fractional market.

On the one hand, it's now popular and in the news, and there are also many more fractional leaders out there. On the other hand, my previous major source of fractional leads was no longer viable, so I had to figure out how to do this in the new paradigm.

So I went looking for a community. 

I had discovered the benefits of online communities over the last several years and wanted to find one for fractionals, so that I could learn from others and perhaps collaborate with them. I found a few fractional-related organizations and programs, but not one that was a community first and foremost.

As many other founders before me, I decided to build the thing I needed. I posted the idea in several communities to see if there was interest, and when I realized there was, quickly started a free slack and within a day, a simple site.

Fast forward a month later, and we've grown quite a bit, have a volunteer leadership committee (who you will learn about in the next post), and are launching a crowdsourced blog so that it's not only my voice and perspective shared here.

For those wondering what the difference between a fractional and consultant or interim leader is, you can refer to a recent LinkedIn post (also shown below) that I hope will clarify this once and for all.

Fractionals United is a community for all current fractional professionals and those considering going this route. So if you are a fractional or wannabe fractional, join us; and if you need fractional talent, you've come to the right place. Share your needs and I'll be happy to post it to our growing, talented community.

And don't forget to check back to hear about what's new in the community and to hear from our talented contributors.


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