Do you have questions about fractional work, and how to structure your business around it?
Today, we are talking about how to make fractional work functional.
What is Fractional Work?
Fractional work is part time work in which you are working with multiple clients or employers at one time.
Think of a pie, and this pie will illustrate the amount of time that you have to work each week. You have to figure out how to slice it. Do you want to have 4, 6, or 8 slices? Every fraction of the pie represents a client. You need to look at how much time you have, and determine how many clients you can serve.
Essentially fractional work means you are working with multiple clients at one time.
When we are distinguishing between full time, part time, and fractional, I often define them as the following:
- Full time: 30+ hours per week
- Part time: 20-32 hours per week
- Fractional: 5-15 hours per week
The fractional definition will determine how many “slices of pie” you can handle.
Fractional work is exactly how I built my business.
The Pros of Fractional Work
Fractional work gives you the ultimate amount of flexibility in your work, and it also gives you a variety.
As you are building your business, you are able to have multiple clients and this can serve as the foundation for getting you the experience that you need without feeling overextended.
If you are working with people who are at an early stage of business who don’t have a lot of cushion to bring on an employee or make a full time investment, this type of expertise is highly sought after.
The Cons of Fractional Work
One of the cons is context switching, which is the time it takes you to move from one thing to another. This can apply to switching tasks or clients as each client will have their own systems and processes, technology, etc.
Another con is scope creep. You have to be very careful because you are so capable that clients will try to put unintended responsibilities on your plate, so you need to make sure you are strong with your boundaries.
My Fractional Business Journey
I had just left corporate work, and I was having a lot of coffee chats to build relationships and see where I fit in this space. I was connecting with a lot of solopreneurs who wanted strategic and leadership level work. I started doing my proprietary Strategic Mapping Model™ with them so that I could understand what they had on their plate, and then part of my fractional package was that I facilitated their meetings, created and managed project plans and did a strategic planning/accountability meeting with the client once per week.
“It was helpful for them to have somebody to create the plans and make sure they got this stuff done… you could say I was the facilitator of their business growth plan.”
I generally had anywhere from 3-4 clients once I had this system optimized.
I was able to see so many different types of marketing, products, and delivery expectations, and it was a great learning experience, plus with so many clients I had great referral partners!
“When your ideal clients aren’t right in front of you, take advantage of the connections you have access to…”
I see fractional work come up in lots of different ways, and you can structure it however it works for you, but always look into your next best self to create that plan.
How to Make Fractional Work Functional
One of the things that happens when you have multiple clients is that you are juggling different leaders, brands, and personalities. Here are a few tips:
- Define what your scope of work is; be clear and understand how long it will take you to do those tasks.
The good thing about performing a specific scope of work is that you generally know how long tasks take, so determine that and then add 20% and you have your fractional offer.
Next, ask yourself how many hours you have to work each week. Divide the number that you just estimated into the amount of hours you have to work each week, and that is how many clients you can take on.
2. As an independent contractor, you get to design the way that you deliver work. You get to say when and how you deliver work. You want to make sure you are firm about when you perform the work. Are you going to devote specific days to a client, or will you time block?
They will want to know when you are available to them, and you need to give them a general understanding of when you will get this done. This will also allow you to set boundaries with them.
3. Make sure you are communicating your expectations clearly, and always be transparent with clients that you are working in a fractional capacity. They need to understand that you are working with other clients and they are not the only one you are focused on.
“You are in charge of upholding your boundaries and mitigating scope creep.”
The first time you see scope creep pop up, you need to address it because you are already committed to working with your other clients.
4. The people who excel in a fractional model are those who have excellent time management, and time blocking skills. You need to figure out your rhythm. Don’t overextend yourself and put yourself in a place where you have to context switch at inopportune times.
5. Charge for the deliverable, not the amount of hours it takes you to do something. You do have to figure out how many clients take on, but don’t penalize yourself as you get more efficient. You are still holding space for the client even if you perform the work faster than expected.
I hope this episode has helped you understand what fractional work is and how to make it functional for you!
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