Leaders Never Have Enough Time. I Built a Company To Solve That.

Written by vChief

March 4, 2024

In 2016, a simple request from my former boss sparked an idea that would change my life, and launch a revolution in executive staffing.

In a previous role, my boss had leveraged my skills as a chief of staff to increase her effectiveness as a leader. For five years, I’d helped her free up time for strategic thinking in her always busy schedule, managed major initiatives, and provided essential communications support. When she left that role to start a new nonprofit, she didn’t have the budget for a full-time chief of staff, but she was sorely missing the additional capacity and thought partnership I provided. This dilemma led us to develop an innovative solution: a part-time, virtual chief of staff. I didn’t know it at the time, but saying yes to this side-gig laid the foundation for vChief.

 

Experimenting with Flexible Executive Support

As a part-time chief of staff working only five or 10 hours a week, my role looked slightly different from before. I still provided support with meeting prep and follow-up and took the lead on several major projects, but I also served as a quarterback for the organization, leveraging the skills of the other members of my boss’s team to take important tasks off her plate that didn’t require her strategic vision or expertise.

This experience was my eureka moment; other leaders surely faced similar constraints and could benefit from this flexible support model. Although at the time there were a few virtual staffing agencies who focused on executive assistant positions, and the fractional model was already starting to take off for chief financial officer and chief marketing officer, no one else was offering the kind of high-level general executive support that a chief of staff offers on a fractional basis. 

I began to share the concept within my network, and it resonated strongly with those who were already familiar with the chief of staff role. Seeing a need I was well qualified to fill, I left my full-time gig and launched vChief. 

Initially, my goal was to land three or four clients and match my full-time salary, while preserving my freedom and autonomy by setting my own hours and working remotely. But I quickly discovered that the demand for fractional chief of staff services far exceeded my own capacity. So I shifted gears. Instead of being a chief of staff, I became a CEO, building a company that matched exceptionally talented people with flexible, interesting, and impactful roles.

 

Blazing a Trail in a Booming Niche

Our growth was both rapid and organic. We focused on creating opportunities for experienced, highly talented individuals to find fulfilling work that fit their lifestyles, whether they were new parents seeking part-time work or professionals transitioning to independent careers.

Early on, we discovered another need that we were well-positioned to fill: providing interim executive support. vChief became a go-to solution for businesses facing executive turnover or needing temporary coverage for a C-level position during a medical or parental leave. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated this need, as companies grappled with uncertainty and hesitated to commit to full-time hires.

 

Scaling Up in Response to Demand

For the first four years, I relied on fractional staff and consultants to fill my knowledge and capacity gaps as demand for vChief’s services grew. And then in 2021, in response to skyrocketing demand, I brought on my first full-time hire. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, we grew our revenue by more than 50 percent each year, and we expanded our central team to 15 people. 

In 2023, we diversified our services beyond the chief of staff role to filling a wide variety of executive roles, including chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and HR business partner. In the fractional staffing world, we distinguish ourselves with our top talent, our white glove matching service and our flexible, month-to-month contracts.

 

Making Work-Life Balance Achievable for Executives (and Everyone Else)

Reflecting on our journey, what makes me most proud is not just our growth, but the way we’ve grown, and the culture we’ve been able to build and maintain through that growth. From day one, I’ve stayed true to my goal of building a company that fits my lifestyle, instead of forcing my lifestyle to fit my job. With my first hire, I established a four-day work week, and we’ve kept that policy while making the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row. I believe my company’s growth is proof that you can build a successful, large-scale company while maintaining our commitment to work-life balance.

vChief has empowered people to redefine their work-life balance, pursuing passions and family life without compromising professional success. Personally, vChief has allowed me to live a life of balance and freedom. I’ve never consistently worked more than 25 hours a week, and during the first two years after founding the company I traveled abroad with my family for a year, working only five to 10 hours a week.

vChief started as a side-gig, but it became a testament to the power of innovative thinking, the importance of work-life balance, and the impact of flexible, high-quality executive support. As we continue to grow and evolve, these principles remain at the heart of everything we do.

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