• Sara Hartary

So...What Is A Fractional COO?

Updated: Feb 18

Of all the leadership roles in a company, the COO is the least well-defined. That's because there are different ways to use a COO to help your business. To get an idea of this, check out the Harvard Business Review's article Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer.


To make a long story short, the COO role varies for the purpose of filling a gap that is presenting a risk to the business.


Rarely do small businesses need or have dedicated COOs. However, the work done by that role doesn't simply disappear. It just gets spread across the other executives. For entrepreneurs and small business owners, that can mean being responsible for critical tasks that you're not especially skilled at nor interested in doing.


A fractional COO gives you access to an experienced operations executive on a less than full time basis.


Instead of being stuck doing these critical tasks yourself or shelling out big bucks (average cost of COOs in the DC area per payscale.com is $25,000/mo.) to bring on a full time resource, there is another option to consider. A fractional COO provides your business with an experienced operations executive in a much more economical way with retainers that can run as little as $3,000 - $5,000/mo. This isn't COO outsourcing. The fractional COO still needs to work closely with the business leadership and there has to be a trust relationship with the owner/CEO. Remember, the fractional COO is filling a gap that presents a risk to the business.


A fractional COO boosts your operations capabilities and provides extra executive leadership bandwidth.


Ask yourself what you would have a fractional COO do. Is it to provide a little boost to pick up the slack in the back-office? Is it to help you figure out a better way to run operations? Do you have a special project that is really important to the business but you need extra leadership bandwidth to get it done? It comes down to getting necessary services at a level that is right for your business needs at that time. And with a fractional COO, you can scale the services up or down depending on the changing demands of your business.


Finding the right fractional COO for your business matters.


Not all fractional COOs are the same. Their expertise, experience, personality, and work style can vary so be sure to choose one that aligns with your business in order to be successful. If you find the right fractional COO, you can build a great long term relationship with a talented partner that will help you take care of your business. If this sounds interesting to you, contact us at Hartary Consulting to learn more about the work we do and whether we're a fit for you.


Hartary Consulting strives to build great client partnerships by providing practical business operations advice to small and medium-sized companies.

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