How Startups Fill Leadership Gaps With Expert Resources

Joe Procopio
6 min readNov 11, 2019

The hardest role to fill in any company is leadership. Say what you will about logic-defying compensation packages and golden parachutes for C-level executives, because I’ll nod my head right along with you. The hard truth is that experienced leadership is always the difference between success and failure. Always.

But how in God’s name do you get that level of talent at that level of leadership when you’re a resource-and-cash-strapped startup? And how do you avoid the hucksters, blowhards, and dinosaurs?

We can get just about any part of our business built for a fraction of what it used to cost. The barrier-to-entry for making, distributing, marketing, and transacting has been greatly reduced in the wake of a massive populist technology shift brought about by the Internet, mobility, and automation.

You and I, we can afford to start a business that can compete with any incumbent. Until we get to leadership. It’s impossible to automate experience, and there is no substitute for it if you want to take your company past a pedestrian level of success.

Luckily, the access and affordability of experienced startup leadership is changing too. And that change can’t some soon enough.

What Is a Fractional Startup CXO?

Would you rather hire 40 hours a week worth of recent college graduate or 10 hours a week from a seasoned veteran? Now, there’s nothing wrong with the former. I do it and do it often. It’s a great way to get potential on board that can benefit my company for years.

But if I’m early in the life of the company and I have leadership gaps that I can’t fill, it’s the latter. Every time.

Unfortunately, a lot of startups make the same mistake when it comes to hiring a fractional leadership resource. They’ll hire 10 hours a week from an experienced CEO, another 10 from an experienced CFO, and another 10 from a pick-two of any of the other executive functions. It equals one expensive full-time-equivalent to cover all the C-Level functions of the company.

This never works.

What will happen is the original startup management team will fall back into a secondary role for these functions and…

Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at

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