Establishing governance: How to build a board for your business

Establishing governance: How to build a board for your business

As the owner of a small business, you may not see the need for a board of directors or advisors for your company. However, having a board allows you to take advantage of the abilities, foresight and connections of a greater number of people. Boards also add credibility to your company.

Last week’s Entrepreneurship 101 lecture, featuring guest speaker David Litwiller, executive in residence at Communitech, focused on how to build and get the most out of a board of directors and board of advisors for businesses of every size.

David presented a comprehensive lecture, focusing on:

  • the difference between a board of directors and a board of advisors;
  • the roles of directors;
  • building and managing different kinds of boards; and
  • evolving governance at the same speed as growing a business.

Establishing a board can be a great way to help your startup grow, but there is a lot to consider. David discussed the proper size and composition of a board at different stages of a business. He emphasized that it is especially important for a startup to find board members who have a tolerance for risk that matches the stage of the business.

Board of advisors or directors?

You are able to maintain more control of your business if you have a board of advisors rather than a board of directors. Why? Advisors have far fewer obligations than directors. The role of a director is not just symbolic; it comes with many risks and responsibilities. In his lecture, David explained some of the obligations of directors, such as the significant time commitment involved.

As a company progresses, it may outgrow its board. David shared some of the early warning signs that you might have a problem within your board of directors. Learn to recognize these signs so that you can act fast if you find yourself in this situation.

A board of directors or advisors may not be the best option for every business. David shared some alternative board options, as well as leading resources for more information about boards in Canada.

To learn more about high-impact board practices that help startups get the highest productivity from their governing bodies, watch David’s full presentation here.

Produced by MaRS Media.

Short on time? Check out this Hot Tips video on how to build your dream advisory team.

Next lecture: Financial Planning/Budgeting on Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Please note there will be no lecture this week, as we will be running the MaRS Future Leaders session during March Break.


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