16thC Entrepreneurialism – Martin Frobisher And America’s First Gold Rush

“Frobisher was back in England in September and embraced at Elizabeth's court, where the news was that he had returned with ore to the value of anything between £80,000 and £100,000. Rewards and a knighthood seemed certain. He had pushed through into ‘Meta Incognita'. And in those 'unknown limits' was fantastic wealth waiting to be gathered in. At an audience with the queen herself, Frobisher spoke of the riches he had brought home ‘and so great promises of the infinite treasure of this new land, whereof he would possess her majesty surmounting the treasure of the Indies of the king

By |2021-09-17T07:28:45+01:00September 16th, 2021|Company Governance History, Longer Articles|

Capital Providers – “Can’t live with them, can’t live without them?”

<Extract from Chapter 8 of Realpolitik “Capital Providers”> So there you are, minding your own business (sic) when one day you decide that some more dough would help. At which point, in all likelihood, you’ve addicted yourself to a drug and with the highs come the lows. One shot will not be enough and will leave you wanting ever more.In this context, and back to the days of Timothy Leary and LSD, the “set and setting” makes a huge difference. What your mindset was and is and the circumstances in which you start this part of the journey are key

A Super-Valuable Board Book – “Directors’ Dilemmas” Patrick Dunne (270pp, 2000)

This book is a must-buy second hand guide for any serious Chairmen, CEOs, Founders, NEDs or Investment Directors. The various editions are now out of print but it’s a steal at less than £5 second-hand right now (eg Amazon or AbeBooks). Different editions are variously subtitled “Tips and Techniques for Dealing with Day-to-day Problems” or “Tales from the frontline” both of which are equally descriptive. Patrick Dunne was at the time Group Communications Director at 3i, then Europe's leading venture capital company and wrote three Board books over a decade (interestingly after a gap of over a decade in 2019

Business Structures Before The Invention Of “The Company” – Guilds

“Here in the City of London there are so many richly endowed livery halls to remind us of the long and illustrious histories of so many London guilds that we can be forgiven for forgetting, or perhaps even being unaware, of the vast network of guilds that once existed throughout the country. I have chosen the title “The Rise and Decline of Guilds in Great Britain and Ireland” because those guilds still in existence are mere shadows of their former selves. More significantly, the vast majority of guilds, thousands of them, have disappeared altogether, with little now known about

By |2021-08-12T09:26:45+01:00August 12th, 2021|Company Governance History, Longer Articles|

New Board Guide – The Complex CEO-Chairman Relationship

The Fourth Short Guide to Key Aspects of the Unlisted Board is now out! A good Chairman was appreciated as a real asset by every interviewee that had one. There are plenty of formal definitions of the role of the Chairman. However templates, no matter how worthy, are always cookie-cutter. Size, stage, phase, type of company, sector, personalities, country will mean that for the far-less-systematised unlisted Board no single recipe will be The Answer. The realpolitik of the Boardroom is that it is all ultimately about who has power or in other terms control. Somewhere along the journey from NewCo

Never Hire “Just A NED” – Hire One Of These Nine Types Of NED

<Extract from Chapter 7 of Realpolitik “NEDs”> Never hire “just a NED” – hire a certain type of NED that fills a gap for your Company and your Board. We take a look at nine types of NED – which do you have? Which don’t you have that you would like to have? What do you want from your NEDs? ... “Where is the value-add? Intros? Mentoring? Raise capital with you?” “Don’t just put anyone on the Board – people see it as a status symbol.” The most important aspect is to build a balanced team on the Board: “On

By |2021-07-30T12:25:53+01:00July 30th, 2021|NEDs, Longer Articles, Realpolitik Extracts|

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance CEO

<Extract from Chapter 5 of Realpolitik “The CEO/Founder”> “For a sole founder in particular it can be a very lonely journey” It is a tough gig being a founder. A US stat I was told was that the average founder has failed four times before. This introduces the need for such folks to have their own support mechanism around them outside of any individual companies (which may come and go) to help them pick themselves back up off the floor. As we shall see, NEDs have differing emphases on “supporting” vs “challenging” CEOs at the Board. However in the early

Book Review: “Business Angel Investing” Richard Hargreaves – 5/5*

"Angel-investing" - the provision of private equity finance by private individuals - is essential to small businesses the world round. In the UK it is the principal source of equity raises in the £1-2m sector. In the US virtually every MegaTech company one has heard of started with Angel financing. Thus this is an essential topic to know about not just for Angels but also for entrepreneurs who, the better they understand the Angels world, the better able they will be to raise finance from them. Richard's experience is unique in terms of having continuously been involved in unquoted investment

By |2021-07-23T11:56:54+01:00July 16th, 2021|Capital Providers, Book Reviews, Short Articles|

Learning From Boardroom Battles – Pistols At Dawn in Calcutta, 1780

Boardrooms notoriously, if unsuspectingly for the naive, can become Cauldrons Of Emotion. Power, betrayal, plotting and deceit can become the order of the day. But it’s probably been a while since they were resolved by pistols at dawn… In the late 18thC there was a long-running saga involving Board conflict between the East India Company’s perhaps best-ever Governor General in India, Warren Hastings, and a State appointee to a newly-formed “Board of Control”, Sir Philip Francis. This was a classic example where Board frictions superficially arise from personality differences. However as in many such cases there are underlying organisational issues

The Uncultured Board

[Extract from Chapter 9 of Realpolitik "Fixing Broken Boards] “My hot tip? Mentor the Board – ensure that everyone is on the same page.” [Experienced CEO/entrepreneur] Only in the later stages of growth with an IPO in mind does the whole There Is Only One True Path For Your Board thing start impacting your poetry. Before that you have freedom. Use it while it lasts! Have a clear vision of the type of Board culture you are trying to create. If your fairy Godmother appeared now and offered three wishes for your Board what would they be? What culture do you want? What

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