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'Small Business' Is No Excuse For Bad Business

Do you first grow your business and then appoint a board of directors, or do you appoint your board in order to grow your business?

'Small Business' Is No Excuse For Bad Business

“Have you thought about appointing non-exec directors to support your strategy execution?”

“Nah, I don’t need that. I’m just a small business.”

Does that answer sound familiar?

I’ve heard entrepreneurs fob off their shortcomings too often with that type of sentiment. If that’s you, you have no right to complain that you’re struggling in your business.

It’s a popular myth in small business that, because it’s “only” a small business, everything can be done informally and supervised by the owner.

If you are the business, then the business has no value without you.

The more dependent the business is on you as the owner-manager, the less likely you’ll be able to sell it. Or if you don’t plan to exit, being indispensable might feed your ego, but it locks you into working long hours for too little pay.

Once you’ve grown beyond the start-up stage, your top priority is to get help. Not “help” as in employees or consultants, though that’s a logical starting point. I mean get yourself independent advisors who serve you either as your virtual board of directors, or appoint official, CIPC-registered non-executive directors.

We’ve run boardroom programmes for small groups of entrepreneurs since 2010 and acted as non-exec directors with many clients – compared with the solo, I’ll-do-it-my-way approach, we’ve seen first-hand how much more likely a business will achieve its growth targets when you have allies in your corner. Don’t be a martyr.

A popular belief is that growth must happen before hiring professional managers and forming a board of directors.

No! Growth is much more likely because you’ve first built your leadership team. For many of our clients wanting to scale, especially through acquisition growth, building their leadership team is invariably one of the top priorities we recommend.

A balanced board of directors is roughly one third to 50% home-grown talent, with the balance being non-exec experts with a solid industry track record.

Your board of directors is your sanity check, your accountability, even a shoulder to cry on. If you’re feeling stuck in your business, that’s the Peter Principle showing up. It’s a clear sign that growth is unlikely unless you grow your business’ leadership team beyond yourself.

If you want to build a business that has value, it’s time you got yourself out of the way – get help to grow.