Sunday, August 7, 2011

Let's get this party started.

This week I conducted a poll on the Pink Link Pages facebook page....( to find out what people want from other than what we already provide.
People visiting the Pink Link Pages website have noted that they want women business experts to write articles for the site that give them advice about how to start and/or operate their businesses.

So, calling all women business experts....  We need women business experts to share business wisdom in brief articles.  These articles SHOULD NOT be a sales pitch for your company!  IT SHOULD be a nugget of brilliant business intelligence that you are willing to share with other women business owners.

Woman business owners, your article may be featured on the front page of website. This is a great way to get exposure for your company beyond your business listing. Your business must be listed on Pink Link Pages ( link The article must be 500 words or less and written by the owner/CEO of the company Interested? Submit your article to:

Below is the kind of article we need for Pink Link Pages....   An article from wise women with sharp business acumen that are willing to share their wisdom with other women.

What are the qualities needed by those who make up a board of directors? If creating a board, what would you look for? Technical expertise? Influence? Opening new markets? Resource development?

Virginia Simpson
Chairman at Simpson & Partners
Greenville, South Carolina Area

Different kinds of companies at different stages of development need different things. This is true of both management and board. It is one of the most difficult things for entrepreneurs to accept. ( By the way, there is also a huge difference between entrepreneurs and small business owners --- a distinction which all too often is not made.)

Of the things you've listed, only influence resonates. The others are needed in the management team, but the board is not management and needs to stay at a distance from the daily running of things --- far enough to see the whole elephant clearly. The Board is there for oversight.

In looking for board members, we seek strategic thinkers, folks with big picture vision and a sense of the possible. They provide access --- and we want access --- to capital, power brokers, joint ventures, more of whatever we need --- influence, reputation. Directors should be balanced risk takers, great listeners, able to mentor top management. We look for good negotiators, people who can get venture capitalists and investment bankers to play fair and square. Smart helps --- a lot! We do not expect in depth technical understanding; we do want somebody who "gets it", fast, no matter what the topic or their prior level of familiarity with it. We can always find a techie or engineer for the details, but a director has to see concepts and contexts, has to ask hard questions.

The Director's role is to walk a fine line between staying out of management's way and keeping a weather eye on management to make sure they stay on track. Boards generally meet only a few times each year, and committees a few more, so they are not expected to be involved in the day to day business. They cannot be micro managers, and the company should not attempt to use them as a substitute for resources that they would otherwise be hiring/paying for.

Remember, your board will have both insiders from the management team and outsiders, about whom we are speaking here. The outside directors, often representing the investors, will see things through a fiduciary's eyes and will provide a sounding board for management as management seeks to grow business and increase profitability. And as the company grows, the directors will be the folks who push to replace management, because as I said at the beginning (much as entrepreneurs hate it) the skills it takes to run a start up and the skills it takes to run a $100MM operation are rarely found in the same team. So, the board should have some balance as to kinds and sizes of business they know how to shepherd to real venture growth. We like a minimum 20% ROI a year in the first 5 years and a strong value realization plan for investors, and that value realization event is another place where the board's guidance will be paramount.

No matter how fabulous you think your board is, there MUST be board training to ensure the board knows what is expected of it and how it and management interact.

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