It is with my experience as an entrepreneur who becomes a business leader that I write this text. I am not a governance specialist.
Nevertheless, I'm leading two growing companies with contractual obligations to financial institutions. As a result, I have chosen, with my associates, to set up an advisory committee for each of my businesses to help us grow and prosper.
Enter a moment in the history of a company where, in order to move forward, it becomes important to surround yourself with experienced people who will occupy a position of advisory or governance role. This can take the form of an advisory committee or a formal board of directors.
While the former has a more informal aspect, the second entails legal responsibilities for governance. It will be up to you to determine the needs of your company in order to choose which of the two you will privilege to assist you in the development and sound management of your company.
How to recognize the right moment?
Objectively, there is no good or bad time to begin the process of forming your first advisory committee or board of directors. What you need to keep in mind is that you will need to be prepared to take on additional workload, challenge yourself, and receive constructive criticism from people with different expertise than you.
These people, who you have previously selected to accompany you, will have a healthy distance with you and your business project and, therefore, will advise you or even suggest you to continue or not on the path that you thought would be the one that was the most appropriate.
In the case of an advisory committee, members will offer you points of view and advice that you are free to follow or not. It must be remembered, however, that if you chose them, it is because you give credibility and value to them. Your advisory committee will provide you with points of vigilance to make better decisions for your business.
However, the members of your board of directors have a legal responsibility, which implies that they necessarily occupy a hierarchical position in the organization. It is therefore a different dynamic that will be installed within the company, but which will certainly be beneficial for sound management and ensure good governance.
The recruitment process
According to a document developed by the Order of Chartered Professional Accountants, it is important to be part of the process of selecting and approaching the people you want to have on your team. A plan developed over a period of two years, where you indicate your needs in terms of expertise, will also help you make the right choices.
The following questions will lead you to an informed and informed selection process:
- Do you want to open doors to new markets, new customers?
- Do you want to surround yourself with people with international expertise?
- Do you want to focus on finance, human resources, marketing or new technologies?
- Answering these questions will help you select candidates to bring your business to where you want.
A clear and transparent mandate
Whether it is an advisory committee or a board of directors, it is crucial to give clear terms of reference to your members. Some people on these committees tend to interfere in operations, and therefore do not invest their energies in the right place. Conversely, some take the seat without really getting involved.
A good way to start a healthy and satisfying professional relationship with your members will be to clarify your expectations, give them specific responsibilities, and ask them what they want from you.
An important issue will also be to think about the gender balance and the diversity of talents, expertise and cultures within your advisory committee or your CA. This is when you discover the benefits of knowing how to surround yourself in business.
Of course, you have to expect to work even harder. You will be asked for documents, reports, to be accountable and to explain more. This can cause frustration on your part, but in times of discouragement, tell yourself that you are making the right choice for your business. You have chosen these people to shake up the status quo and because you accept to be challenged; this is a big step in the development of a successful business.
Autor: Geneviève Desautels
Associée et PDG de Amplio Stratégies inc. et Univers Interactif inc.
Article tiré de la revue de Gestion des HEC de Montréal