Business, Culture and Entrepreneurship

Friday, October 31, 2008

Board members you'd rather not have had

When I wrote my first article for Outlook Business, on why a board of advisors is important for start-ups, a couple of folks wrote to me asking about best to handle having a "wrong" board member. Jack and Suzy Welch have discussed this at some length in a BusinessWeek column of theirs.

I decided to added my two-cents to the discussion and the result is my latest article in Outlook Business. Excerpts from the article:

"Anybody can ask questions! When I bring up a problem, it's because I need help. What's the point in just asking questions or giving a lecture without offering any help?" The questions were posed rhetorically, by a good friend who was the VP of Engineering at a technology firm. He had just returned from a Board meeting where he had been called up to present the development status of the company's newest product. "And the Chairman just sat there, not saying a word!" My friend's predicament brought to mind, the question of what is the role of a good board member and as a reader recently posed, "What if you get the “wrong” person on your board?"

Start-ups particularly, and entrepreneurial firms in general, can use the benevolent oversight of an experienced team that a good board of directors can be. If finding the right people for the board is an important task, getting an inappropriate or incompetent member off the board is even tougher. Therefore, one needs to have a clear understanding of who would be a good board member for a company.
Read the rest of the article here.

Managing Time - our most precious resource

The new startup that I have been threatening to do has actually arrived and so I have fallen way behind in staying at least regular with my blog. Ironically, the going has been slow with the startup as well, despite all the time I have been spending there. So in case of physician heal thyself, I have chosen to write about managing our time as entrepreneurs, in the Hindu Business Line.

"Remember that time is money,” said Benjamin Franklin, statesman, philosopher and one of the founding fathers of the US. Maybe it’s because he made this statement 260 years ago in 1748 that many of us don’t remember it. Capital, people and even technology can be obtained by debt or equity, hiring or licensing. However, the one thing that no entrepreneur can get more of is time. Yet most of us treat our own time as a fungible commodity available in endless supply. Bankruptcies, broken marriages, debt traps and nervous breakdowns have not cured many of this fallacy. To be successful as entrepreneurs, it is critical that we recognise time is a perishable commodity.
Just as our favourite foods are probably the least healthy, we will discover that many of our favourite activities as founders and entrepreneurs are the biggest waste of time. Even as crash diets don’t work, and diets have to be combined with exercise, using our time effectively calls for both a balancing of our activities with objectives and a good deal of self-discipline. Self-discipline, in particular, is not a strength of many of us entrepreneurs. At times, we even wear our lack of it as a badge of honour, mistaking ad hoc behaviour for freedom and lack of discipline for being creative and unfettered.
Read the rest of the article here.