When I grew up, my favorite TV show was MacGyver. His curiosity and resourcefulness always made him come up with clever solutions to fix seemingly unsolvable problems or make something out of nothing. With only Swiss Army knife and duct tape as his “weapons”, his practical creativity is something we all could learn from.
For Founders and Entrepreneurs, it is boards and various advisors who are their Swiss Army knives and duct tapes. Growth and value creation are way too complex to try to accomplish them without help and experience based advice. The good news is that it is not necessary. When you’re selecting your Board members and advisors, you will soon find out that there certainly is no shortage of them. Be it for accounting, tax, fund raising, m&a, recruiting or audit, you’ll hear great pitches, get exposed to creative compensation models and see colorful presentations on how everyone is the best of breed and the right choice.
As a founder or entrepreneur, what would I look for in my Swiss Army knife or duct tape? Most importantly – as this is people business – what I would concentrate on is how trust is being built: Have your board member and advisor candidates asked good questions? Have they provided without asking new ideas how to solve your problems or how to accelerate your growth? Are they capable of seeing the big picture? Can they open the right doors?
The second quality after trust I would be looking for is a proactive mindset. You are the one driving these very strategic relationships and therefore you should set the standards. Everyone talks these days about experimenting. Don’t be afraid to test and experiment with your advisors (I wouldn’t recommend this with the board members). Build the trust and winning in the markets will become just a bit less hard. And yes, you didn’t hear me saying it is going to be easy.
Text by Matti Copeland, Executive Director and Chief Curiosity Officer @ EY. In the picture: Matti Copeland.