Private Boards – On a budget but need talent?

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Talent is the challenge in these times. Getting talent is hard enough. Keeping talent is often just as hard. Lifestyle is a priority and salaries are up. Every startup needs talent but how can you do that on a small company budget? One possible answer: Boards.

Yes, historically corporate boards are supposed to have “noses in and fingers out”. This means that a board member should leave the management of the company to the managers. It also means that management shouldn’t be expecting board members shouldn’t be expected to roll up their sleeves and help. Having served on both sides of this table, managing expectations is difficult for everyone.

Even though the board stays away from management of the company, that doesn’t mean they don’t do anything. Far from it. Board members are fully expected to bring their expertise. In most cases, this is in the board room but can extend to specific coaching and planning at the committee level as well.

Often the talent a small company needs is not at the implementation level but the strategic level. This falls squarely in the realm of a company director and it’s not out of line to ask. In fact, being a director usually requires sitting on committees dedicated to solving specific company problems.

According to an article in Private Company Director, the 2022 median annual retainer for a director is $30,000. While many board members of smaller companies are family members, many are outside (independent) board members. Independent directors bring C-level experience and leadership to the company and often have experience that other board members lack and may put in a hundred hours, or more, of work each year. In short, independent board members are high-end consultants for a fraction of the cost.

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