Finding a non-executive director – and avoiding family bust ups!

how to find a non exec for my business

Finding a non-executive director for your business doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  Below is a checklist approach to identifying, approaching and securing the support of a non-executive director for your business.


All too often, business owners, especially younger, newer business owners (but the same can be true of older, more experienced operators too) are too scared to ask for help.  You MUST ask.  A potential candidate who rejects such an invite to discuss the opportunity was not the right person for your business.  Move on.  Rejection is not failure.


Linkedin and other engines (including are excellent platforms to do your due diligence.  Whilst the printed word needs to be substantiated in person, these online mediums give a great access point to 1000s of highly engaged, relevant directors who may well be a great fit for your business.


Just because a senior director hasn’t held the title of “Non-Executive Director” before does not mean that they are not a good opportunity.  Take time to consider exactly which skills or areas of the business you need help with at a top level and create a search based on those criteria.


This is not a practice.  Be concise and stick to the brief.  It helps to write down what you expect of your non-executive and present that to them at the formal interview.  If you want someone to “open doors” for your business in a certain sector, do not be afraid to say so.  Honesty and being concise is the best route to making a great non-executive director appointment.

In the same way, ask the candidate directly – “Can you do what I want?”


If you are looking for a status appointment, you may well find this is a short lived exercise and in many cases, the appointment will not last.  Whilst in some instances a “big name” can be of value, it rarely is.  You will find this an expensive lesson in how not to recruit a non-executive director!


The best candidate due diligence always comes from “knowing your market” and relying on people you know to make personalised introductions can be very effective. 

Joining “networking clubs” isn’t necessarily the best route to finding someone who can help as they are often filled with “more of the same” and you may find yourself distracted.


Without doubt this is the quickest way to ruin relationships and probably your business in the short term.  My advice is – opt for someone outside of your close friends and family circles when appointing a non-executive director.  Trust me, it is unlikely to turn out well.


Ian Wright is the Founder and CEO of and has worked with 100s of companies to appoint non-executive directors and chairs. 

Ian Wright virtual non execs
Ian Wright CEO & Portfolio NED

VirtualNonExecs is a global membership network operating in the UK, USA and UAE.

He sits on the boards of three privately held companies as non-executive director and has built multiple businesses that have gone on to sell to private equity and trade buyers.

If you need help with such an appointment, Ian is contactable on [email protected]


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