Respect Your Limitations (Karina Mikhli)

Being a fractional isn't easy.

I already blogged about the challenges to consider before going this route so I won't repeat them, but there are others I wanted to address:

  1. context switching
  2. not being able to coast
  3. required experience and expertise
  4. personal limitations

Context Switching

It is challenging having more than one client, whether fractional or otherwise, but if you're a fractional, you need to focus on a regular basis to get results.

As a Fractional COO, since I run companies, I have to be available daily and the only way I've been able to do this is with strict time blocking.  This means that I literally have blocks on my calendar per each cilent/type of work I do, and I have synched my SavvyCal scheduling links per time block. So Client A can only schedule a meeting during the Client A time block, Client B during the Client B time block, etc. 

I actually discussed this in detail with Shadi Yazdan on her podcast, The Raw Founder, which you can listen to here.

Not Being Able to Coast

Fractionals United member asked the other day whether he was the only one who found fractional work harder than full-time work. Not surprisingly, many others said they felt it too.

As a full-time W2 employee, you're paid a "retainer" of sorts to be available 40 hours whether you have 40 hours worth of work or not, which means that if you're competent, at some point you'll be able to coast at least some of the time. 

That is not possible as a fractional leader, and therefore it is harder. You may want to limit how many clients you have at any given time and should consider this in your rate calculation.

Required Experience and Expertise

Unlike some others in the fractional space, I don't think a fractional leader has to be c-level, but they do have to be a leader.

Also unlike others, I don't think we need to impose standards, but I do believe you have to first hold a position full-time before you can do it fractionally. I even posted this on LinkedIn.

It's hard enough doing a leadership job well full-time, so it will be impossible to do it well fractionally unless you've already done it—and succeeded in it—full-time. Doing anything otherwise not only hurts the entire fractional ecosystem but does yourself no favors either. And it's common sense.

Personal Limitations

Last but not least, know how much you can handle, whether it's clients, meetings, work, etc. Ignoring your limitations—similar to ignoring your lack of experience and expertise—helps no one, least of all yourself.

Personally, this is the one that has come hardest for me: I am an introvert/borderline ambivert running a large community and have to juggle this with paid work, so that I can keep funding the community until I succeed in monetizing it (without going back on my word). 

Time blocks help me focus on what I'm supposed to be doing at any given time, but aren't enough. 

As an introvert, my social battery discharges more quickly than for extroverts, and I have a hard limit to how many meetings I can handle per day: 6 meetings and/or 4 hours max. Beyond this, I am unable to function well and end up making stupid decisions (like staying up too late for no good reason because I don't have the will power to step away from the computer). It's a personal limitation I have to recognize and respect since it's part of who I am.

The downside is that members can't schedule time with me the next week, or sometimes even the next month, so I now do monthly new member welcome calls. I still feel bad that I can't talk to everyone sooner, but the alternative is burning out and that's to my—and the community's—disadvantage. 

Now I just have to stop apologizing for this.

Do I still believe fractional is worth it? Absolutely and for too many reasons to go into here. My purpose for this post (and my previous one) is to help those new to fractional, or considering going fractional, make an informed decision and plan accordingly.

And then if it is something you want to do, join us at Fractionals United to get a support network and community to learn from.


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