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STRATEGY

How To Assemble a Board of Directors

Advice on putting a board together that will serve your needs.
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Stop worrying and learn to love the idea of having a board. Yes, your board members are going to challenge you, and they may even tell you what to do, and you may not like that. But unless you have all the answers, you'll eventually need a board to advise you and offer up fresh ideas. To put one together:

Seek out people who have experience dealing with the growth transitions you anticipate for your company. If you look around the boardroom and none of your directors has ever managed a company bigger than yours, then you have a problem. You need only one person with specific experience in your industry. After that, pick people who have managed businesses through various stages of development.

Try to imagine how each candidate might handle a swing vote situation. Avoid choosing members who seem unwilling to bend every now and then. Anticipate who might cause fights. Above all, steer clear of bullies and loudmouths.

Make changes. As your company evolves, so should your board. From the outset, let members know that you intend, from time to time, to appoint new people with different connections, market knowledge, and strategic experience.

You have a board. Now manage it. Like any group of people within your company, your board members need direction and even encouragement. They also need to be kept informed. "A lot of CEOs take their boards for granted, thinking 'They're here to help me," says Ingrid Vanderveldt, CEO of iVEEA, an Austin media firm. "That is not it at all. They are looking to you to tell them where the company needs help."




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