Many agencies talk to us about whether some external support, such as a Non-Exec, Board Advisor or Mentor would help their business, or themselves as the owner.
My answer is always the same – Yes, if you are clear on what help you need and where you need it.
Having benefitted from these throughout my own business journey, and now giving that back by being one myself, my advice on what you should consider in seeking the ideal match is this:
- Skills and Experience: Assess the skills, expertise and maybe qualifications you are missing that would bring value to your business. Identify areas where your own experience may be light in an area of your operations, market, or your goals and ambition.
- Board Roles and Responsibilities: In addition to understanding the roles and responsibilities of any existing board members or senior leadership team, also understand the roles and responsibilities of NEDs, including legal and ethical obligations, fiduciary duties, and governance responsibilities.
- Industry and Sector Knowledge: Consider your own industry knowledge and expertise. Determine the areas where additional sector, and / or process knowledge, could benefit your business. This could be specific experience in growth, obtaining investment or selling a business for example.
- Time Commitment: Evaluate the time commitment required from both sides. What time commitment do you expect from them and what are you committing to making it work? In my experience the pulse frequency is a huge factor in the success of any such relationship.
- Network and Connections: Assess your own professional network and trusted connections. Who do you know who has what you need, or who do you know that works with someone like this? Also talk with your existing professional advisors, be those accountants, lawyers etc. They will have experience in this field and can provide guidance on navigating the Board Advisor landscape to help you identify suitable candidates
- Board Diversity: Consider the importance of diversity on boards. Reflect on how your background, skills, and perspectives may be better balanced by an alternative view.
- Due Diligence: Understand that the right advisor, specifically if a formal NED, is going to want to conduct their own due diligence on your business. Financial stability, reputation, corporate culture, and governance practices all play a part as does alignment with your own values and goals. I would stress at this point that just as you might with a potential new employee, if any potential advisor does not seek to understand your vision and values, then be suspicious of their real motive to get involved, and their commitment to you and your needs.
- Remuneration and Contracts: Consider the financial aspects of this on your business, including fees, and contractual terms. Evaluate the market rates for Board Support in your industry and negotiate fair terms that reflect all parties’ contributions and time commitment.
Stuart Brown – Chairman