THE BLOG

Starting a New Business? Get On Board

07/08/2013 05:25 EDT | Updated 09/07/2013 05:12 EDT

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received as it relates to starting or building a business is this:

Get a board of directors.

But isn't that only reserved for dinosaurs huddled around a large mahogany table in the ivory tower of some big multinational? Didn't Steve Jobs once get unceremoniously fired by the board of Apple before he returned to raise it like a phoenix from the ashes?

Why would someone running a business want a board of directors? That's a great question and here is my humble opinion:

Starting and running a company is hard work and at times it can be damn lonely.

One of the best decisions we made when starting was having a board from Day 1. So without further delay to Charles, Imran, Tamara, Chris and David....thank you.

Who are they? They graciously serve as the Advisory Board for our firm Servo Annex. Put more simply they force us to raise our game and hold us accountable to results. They provide counsel, provide a shoulder to cry on, tell us to suck it up and make us park our egos at the door. They act as a gauge of our success, challenge us to continually deliver our best and serve as a compass for the future direction.

Now you might like the concept of a board but how is that possible if you don't have tonnes of capital or financial backing? Doesn't having a board of directors means compensating them and incurring additional costs such as Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance? It can, so I recommend starting simple by creating an Advisory Board to start.

In my case, I reached out to people I've known over a long time and hold in high regard. People who represent a mix of accomplished senior executives and entrepreneurs who have built, lead, and advised companies and senior leadership teams from technology startups to global brands. People who are much wiser than I am. People who taught me to learn how to listen.

What I then did was asked these non-competing individuals, who were very familiar with my targeted clientele to serve on the Servo Annex advisory board. I also told them that I would not ask for more than a specific amount of time per month.

And once the business grew to a key point in the future, I'd create a formalized board of directors structure. Until then the time commitment was minimal and potential liability as officers of the company was zero since an advisory board is strictly volunteer.

In your first year of business you make a lot of decisions. Some are good, some are neutral and some are bad.

What I've found is the number of potentially bad decisions are significantly reduced if you are blessed to have others serve as your sounding board.

The question is...are you on board?

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