START YOUR BUSINESS WITH A BOARD MEETING – BASIL SPRINGER COLUMN (AUG 16, 2021)
“Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.” – 1 Timothy 4:15
About eight years ago I accepted an invitation to give a guest presentation on The Shepherding Model (guidance and access to finance) to entrepreneurs and mentors of Bizbooster, a virtual business incubator project of the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business in Trinidad.
After the session and to my surprise, one of the entrepreneurs came up to me and asked if I could be the shepherd for his fledgling business idea. I was surprised because, based on his body language during the presentation, I thought that he was the least likely person in the room to approach me in this regard.
We met and I convinced him to “Start his business with a board meeting”. It was not an easy sell because his concept of a board meeting was associated more with a large company with seven people sitting around a big table in a board room rather than his startup with his mother providing moral and financial support.
I shared with him that the primary purposes of a Board of any organization are simply to: (1) embrace the owners’ or members’ policy; (2) approve the annual Action plan for the organization; and (3) monitor management’s monthly performance of the business against the objectives of the plan and take corrective action when necessary.
I explained that the board meeting culture establishes a good foundation and structure and inspires the development of effective and efficient practices which will stand his business in good stead as it expands.
We set a date and convened the first board meeting. He as entrepreneur and his mother as his business partner constituted the first board of the company. I attended the board meetings (by invitation) to share my experiences as shepherd.
I prepared a comprehensive agenda for the first board meeting, including statutory governance, financial investment, marketing, operational and people development matters. I also wrote the minutes of the first meeting using a special template as a guide.
He was appointed chairman of the board and managing director of the business. From the second board meeting, he assumed the responsibility of writing the minutes at monthly meetings.
The board members very quickly realized that the board meeting culture is the glue that generically bonds relationships between stakeholders (owners, directors, team members, service deliverers, clients), and that getting the structure right at the start redounds to the sustainability of the business.
In the Barbados press last week, two major issues were brewing. One was the human rights of the anti-vaxers while the country tries to reduce the spread of and minimize deaths from the COVID-19 virus. The other, as one commentator described it, was putting the “public” back into Re(public) as Barbados moves to change from a monarchy to a republican form of government.
In the Barbadian governance structure, the people are “Barbados”. The people elect a government under a given constitution. The constitution consists of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization will be governed by the elected government.
Aggressive vaccination legislation is unlikely to be the resolution of the former issue and the latter matter requires a governance solution.
Maybe the stakeholder bonding feature of the board meeting culture will help to avoid conflicts between people and the government.
May good sense prevail.