One of the key challenges which young businesses face is bringing in a mix of experience and expertise to help drive the business forward. The idea of building a board is probably a million miles away from most budding entrepreneurs but in reality, a high growth business will need the right people in the right places to keep it on track.
Eddie Robb, CEO of Make it Social, has gone through this process over the last 5 years which has taken him on the well-trodden path of start-ups: seeking investment and winning customers. Eddie’s business is a social booking, planning & paying Application Programming Interface (API) that makes it easier for groups to book events and travel together. I asked Eddie about his own journey building his board.
What stage do you look at building a board/management team?
We took a couple of years before setting up a board. It wasn't until it was almost 'forced' upon us due to investment rounds taken. However, I think this was an oversight on my behalf. A board can add some really fantastic value and brand new insight. At the start, it doesn't need to be overly formal but a regular get together with a couple of people who are either currently active as a leader of a business or have done it before can keep you thinking about where you are taking the business.
With regards to a management team it came as the business grew in size. I know my strengths and my managing a technical development team is certainly not one of them. Bringing the right people to compliment my skill set was hugely important as it allowed me to focus on the things I am best at.
What are the main obstacles to getting the right people on it?
The main obstacle is finding people with time. A monthly board meeting is likely to take up around a day overall when you include preparation and follow up. The best people for your board are likely active board members in other companies and are busy running their own so getting them to free up enough time can be difficult.
How did you do it?
Our board is made up of one investor director appointed by the shareholders (so that one was relatively easy) and a chairman, appointed by me. With the chair, we've gone through two people. Our first chair was fantastic in setting up the right processes and procedures in the business at a time we had very little. His guidance in the early days was fantastic. As the business grew we realised we needed some more specific start up growth guidance and subsequently sought out an individual who was familiar with the business that bought into the overarching vision of the business. We approached Nick and discussed what he could bring to the role. He considered it over time and when he called excited to take on the challenge we were happy with our decision.
At iMultiply, we work closely with businesses who are at varying stages of their journey. Those who are at an earlier stage have some different requirements but it holds true that all companies need the right people as advisors. We have a pool of incredibly talented people who can help to fill this requirement, whether on an interim basis or something more permanent.