ADVISORY BOARDS: Not Just for Big Companies Anymore.

DO YOU EVER catch yourself saying, “why change, we’ve always done it this way” or “I mentioned that idea before, but no one listened” and “I wish we could do this, but it would hurt his feelings?” As small businesses, we have a unique ability to make clear- cut decisions and not get caught up in the bureaucracy. Unfortunately, this same advantage also goes against us, when we are faced with growing the business and making critical decisions. Everything works well when we are in agreement with each other about the strategic direction of the business. But when we are not on the same page, we get bogged down making decisions and deciding on the direction of the business, because our personal feelings often get in the way and impede us. More…

Building A Brain Trust Out Of A Board

UMassby Paul Kelliher
Market Managing Partner

Every corporation has a board of directors, but not every board functions in the same manner. Board members of large publicly held companies are elected by the shareholders and are charged with representing their interests and overseeing management. In small privately held firms, the board is hand-picked by the sole stockholder (the business owner) usually from among management or family members, and it normally convenes only to transact regally required tasks, such as the annual meeting or the opening of a new company bank account.

Few entrepreneurs have attempted to broaden the business talents and scope of activities of their boards. They tend to be extremely self-reliant and hesitate to go outside when it comes to seeking advice. Indeed, this may not be necessary in the formative stages of a business.

But as a business develops, and such complex issues as plant expansion, acquisitions, or public offerings begin to surface, entrepreneurs may discover they need outside help in key areas. Specialized knowledge may be needed (or just broad-based business wisdom) with nobody at hand to provide it. It’s at this point that the entrepreneur may want to consider expanding the company’s board to make it less of a formality and more of a vehicle for business planning (in other words, a brain trust). More…