If you are thinking about the best way to grow your business, or if you are starting out and thinking how to structure it, it may be worth finding yourself a non-executive director. There are many potential benefits to come from a good relationship with a non-exec. You just need to know what you are looking for before you start to look.
In the Beginning
When you are starting out, you could gain real advantage from someone with contacts who can open doors that put you in touch with potential suppliers, influencers and even customers. If you are new to the business world, or your particular market, you need someone who can advise and guide you from the vantage point of their own experience. You're never alone with a non-exec; some will even help you pitch for business and attend meetings and presentations alongside you.
When it's Time to Grow
If you are at a stage when your business is already successful and you are looking to develop it further, you may need someone who has knowledge of and contacts with finance house or business angels, to help you acquire the funding you will need. You might just want an experienced mentor to give you confidence that you can do what you want, and advise on potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.
You would need to stay in control of the relationship. What you don't want is someone who virtually takes over and makes decisions for you, so include the option of one-to-one meetings in the arrangements you make. Then you can agree strategy and be able to rely on support from your non-exec at board meetings.
To Pay or Not to Pay
When you advertise for your non-executive director, if you can possibly afford it, you should offer some remuneration. That way you can probably attract a more experienced business person who is keen to give something back, rather than people who just want a non-executive role to give a boost to their CVs. Someone who has retired from a senior position and doesn't want to give up business life altogether should have a wealth of experience to bring to the party, and to have already met many of the challenges you are likely to face.
Whatever kind of non-exec you are seeking, be sure of your objectives before you start to shortlist or interview. If you use agencies, or other third parties to help with this process, ensure they are completely familiar with your goals, and the maximum fee you are prepared to pay.
This article is for information purposes only and should not be deemed as giving advice. For professional advice on any employment law matter, contact a suitably qualified adviser.