When I talk to small businesses about the importance of having boards, I’m also advising that they actively seek the right people to fill those seats. Many times, these companies don’t have boards, and when they do, they’ve picked those individuals who are available and have some familiarity with the businesses – low hanging fruit such as lawyers, accountants, or personal friends in their inner circles for those advisory spots. What they should be doing is defining their needs and recruiting specifically for those seats.
One of the best examples I can give comes from a board I used to sit on, where a fellow senior advisor had previously sat on 25 boards. Clearly, that’s the sort of experience you want on your side, but it’s not easy to secure. In fact, the gentleman who owned the company chased him for a year and a half before he finally said yes. It was an exercise in patience that paid off. Ownership carefully defined the need and then identified and recruited the advisors to match to periodically review management’s performance and abilities and act as resources on an as-needed basis.
When recruiting a board of advisors, you also need to target the right type of person.
Someone who has initiative
You want someone on your board who will respond to information AND be proactive. Find someone who isn’t afraid to call the CEO regularly to ask what’s going on. If you hire someone who’s simply there to answer questions, you may miss opportunities to drive your business in a better direction.
Individuals with experience making key decisions
If you are a $20 million distribution company that wants to grow to $100 million, you should find someone who has successfully run that type of business, knows what it’s supposed to look like, and understands how to scale while avoiding bad decisions.
You want to attract advisors who are compassionate, great listeners, and are comfortable in their own skin. These types of people generally say very little, but when they do, it’s profound.
Individuals who are decisive
You also want someone who can help a leadership team to be decisive at important times throughout your journey into entrepreneurship because of their experience. These people are also clear communicators.
Diverse team members
It may seem obvious that you don’t want a group of the same type of people filling your board. But often this type of redundancy occurs without some proactive reflection, effort, and planning. You will benefit from differences of opinion expressed in your board meetings and people who can look at things from varying perspectives. The best outcomes are reached through collaboration.
Our goal at Evolution is to be a valuable resource for all small businesses, including connecting you with the right potential board members, strategic partners, and technology experts throughout your journey.
Interested in more business best practices as you grow your small business? Contact Evolution today.