How non-executives are giving SMEs the transfusion they need!

non-executive directors and sme businesses


‘Come in!’’ — the Mayor cried, looking bigger

And in did come the strangest figure!

His queer long coat from heel to head

Was half of yellow and half of red

And he himself was tall and thin,

With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin

Whether you’re an SME or a large international company, the one thing you have in common is the desire to be successful. Success, obviously, is the core strategy of any business.

Large companies, however, have the luxuries of huge budgets and an enterprising board willing to welcome highly experienced and strategically focused outsiders [Non-Executive Directors] into its bosom, to provide advice based on experience, special knowledge and a list of contacts that offer ever-expanding opportunities for development.

Small to Medium Enterprises tend to be a little more circumspect in their approach to inviting Non-Execs onto their board. The reasons involve cost, of course, but also a reluctance to open up what has hitherto worked as a small and tightly knit group of people.

The trouble with wearing something tightly knit, though, is that it has a tendency to constrict your breathing. You’ll need to expand the stitching a tad, let in some air! And that is precisely what a Non-Exec does, especially for SMEs, where sometimes the board consists of family members and perhaps the odd friend or two. Bringing in someone from the outside can create more than a breath of fresh air.

He or she can help you develop a new perspective, a more innovative way of thinking, a deeper knowledge of the market place and new opportunities for development and growth – key ingredients for greater success.

In truth, SMEs can’t afford to miss out on what a Non-Exec can bring to the table. And as long as he or she is welcomed and valued for their advice and contributions, your SME will grow from strength to strength. A word of caution, though! It’s advisable to give some thought to the qualities you’re looking for in your Non-Exec before you make your approach.

Remember the lesson learned by the Town Council of Hamelin, who brought in a Non-Exec to help them with a small infestation problem. Once he had helped their enterprise to flourish – by utilising his musical expertise in pest control – they refused to appreciate the full contribution he’d made to their town’s development and withheld his payment. The consequences were disastrous! Refusing to pay him was actually the second mistake they made.

The first?

Well, even back in the fourteenth century, the members of the Town Council should have done their homework a little better. They were approached by the Pied Piper, not the other way round. As a result, they knew nothing about him. Now, if there had existed back then a website that could bring to their attention a large number of prospective candidates, where their background, expertise and personal qualities were on open display, well then –

But sadly, the internet was almost 700 years away. And as a consequence such a website did not exist in the year 1376.

Perhaps if it had done, they would have called it Non-Executive Pied


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

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.

VirtualNonExecs is a global membership network operating in the UK, USA and UAE. is FREE TO USE platform that connects companies with well established, well connected NEDs. There is no cost for companies who recruit from the network; simply choose to list your vacancy free


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