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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

Discipline and Action in Company Leadership

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process, is its own reward." - Amelia Earhart

Taking action is often the hardest part of any endeavor, but it's an essential ingredient for success. However, it takes more than just making a decision to act. It requires personal discipline, which is the ability to control your thoughts, actions, and behaviors to achieve your goals.

Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL and best-selling author, emphasizes the importance of personal discipline in his work. His mantra is effectively, "Discipline equals freedom." This seemingly paradoxical statement suggests that by exercising discipline in our lives, we gain the freedom to achieve our goals and fulfill our potential.

This idea applies to the decision to hire a fractional leader as well. Waiting for the perfect moment or full-time candidate can be tempting, but it's often counterproductive. Instead, we need to take action and exercise discipline to achieve our goals.

I'd like to share a story from a recent trip to Las Vegas for a company offsite. One morning, I went to the gym at 7 am and was surprised to find several people already there. As I looked around, I realized that these were people who demonstrated personal discipline—they were disciplined, balanced, and clearly motivated. It struck me that these are precisely the kind of professionals that organizations need to thrive. Personal discipline is the key to success not just in our personal lives, but also in our professional lives.

Hiring a fractional leader can be an optimal action for companies seeking to grow and improve their business. Fractional leaders are experienced executives who work with companies on a part-time basis, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise without the long-term commitment and financial burden of a full-time hire. By hiring a fractional leader, companies can tap into the expertise of an experienced executive at a lower cost than hiring a full-time employee.

As William Butler Yeats said, "Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking." Waiting for the perfect full-time candidate or the right circumstances can lead to missed opportunities. Hiring a fractional leader can be a proactive move that helps companies grow and improve, regardless of the current state of the business.

In conclusion, personal discipline is the key to achieving our goals, both in our personal and professional lives. We need to take action and exercise discipline to achieve our goals. Hiring a fractional leader can be an optimal action for companies seeking to grow and improve their business. By making the decision to hire a fractional leader, companies can take control of their growth and achieve their goals. As Earhart notes, taking action can be challenging, but the process is its own reward.


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