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How to source an appropriate non-executive director for a fast growing entrepreneurial business

How to source an appropriate non-executive director for a fast growing entrepreneurial business

By Ian Stockley, managing director, Indicia

If you’re a fast growing brand or agency, it’s vital at the right time on the journey that you appoint a non-executive director (NED) for advice and support that is not close to the organisation.

Evidently, depending on the business and sector, the type of non-executive director that you select will differ, according to individual business needs. Fast growing, entrepreneurial businesses are often those that benefit the most from this type of involvement, so how can you as the head of this type of organisation ensure that you recruit the best non-executive director for your business?

• Timing
Get the time right. There is a critical time on the growth curve where the increasing complexity and size of the business mean that finding solutions to new and different challenges will justify the additional cost of appointing a NED

• Relevance
Although it can be easy to get caught up in specifics of experience, it’s best to work with a non-executive director who has a solid and grounded knowledge of the sectors your business is operating in, so that they can offer qualified views on how and the areas in which your business should grow.  The relevance of the track record to your sector, when looking at the NED role in a fast growing entrepreneurial company is vital in a way that is not necessarily the case for an NED in a more corporate environment

• Emotional understanding
One of the most important aspects of the appointment of any NED is to ensure they can understand the vision and culture of a business. A good NED is able to commit to helping the business flourish. Ideally they will have already experienced a similar journey to the one you are on. At Indicia, a customer intelligence marketing agency, we have recently appointed Chris Warren, founding Director of TMW, partly due to the cultural and emotional fit.  This was brought about because of the experience he had gained from steering the entrepreneurial agency from start up, growing  the business through a continually changing marketing environment for 25 years before eventually selling the company to the Creston Group  in 2006.

• Proactivity beyond the boardroom
For a small business, every second and contact counts. With rapid growth and potentially limited resources, entrepreneurial businesses may find it difficult to find the resources to network and help grow the business. A good NED needs to demonstrate their skills by tapping into existing industry contacts and creating new networks as a means of expanding the business.

• Good judgement
When looking for an NED, it’s important to select somebody who is able to make quick and effective decisions, without being too caught up in daily operations of the organisation.

• Trust and respect
One of the key aspects when making a selection is to consider how they will benefit your business. Mutual respect and is proabaly the most important element of any partnership. For the appointment to yield optimal results as head of the organisation there will be a a lot of 121 working when you will be making core decisions about your business

Ultimately, working closely with an NED means choosing somebody who is not only likeable and trustworthy, but can guide you in making changes to help your business flourish and grow.

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