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Kiwi business owners embrace DIY Governance

October 1, 2014.

For immediate release

Kiwi business owners embrace DIY Governance

It’s not quite “number eight wire” but it’s a low cost way for New Zealand business owners to get experienced minds keeping a watch over their business fortunes.

New Zealand owners of small and medium businesses have taken enthusiastically to a new concept where they help each other as board members of their own companies.
Based on a US concept, over 50 business owners in Auckland have so far adopted “The Alternative Board” style of helping each other through challenges.

The concept is based on the simple idea that 70 percent of any challenges faced by business, are exactly the same - no matter what the business.

“This theory effectively makes the 70 percent of the problems of a commercial fisherman the same as a fashion retailer,” said Stephen James, who brought “The Alternative Board” to New Zealand in 2012.

The concept originated in the US in 1990 and is now in eleven countries and with almost 3000 business owners. They operate as Boards of directors for each other in groups of up to ten owners. They meet monthly and also spend individual time with an experienced business adviser.

US Head Office singled out the New Zealand network in August this year, because of the comparatively long length of time each owner remains in the network.

Stephen James, a graduate of the London School of Economics, brought the concept to New Zealand in 2012.

He was presented with the award at The Alternative Board’s annual conference in Denver last month . The New Zealand boards have shown a retention rate of over 90 percent of members in the past year, one of the highest retention rates in the world.

Allen Fishman, the founder of The Alternative Board, said the US office is delighted at how well it has caught on in New Zealand.

“It appears to have become entrenched in New Zealand very quickly,” he said.

“Not only was Stephen James able to quickly develop a critical mass of board members in New Zealand, his high rate of member retention underscores that our service is delivering real value to New Zealand business owners.

“I think there is also strong evidence that Stephen’s leadership is also special,” said Mr Fishman.

Stephen was a key executive alongside Graeme Hart of Rank Group from 1988 until 2003 and in that time was involved in all of the transactions which took Rank Group from a value of around $2 million to $2 billion.

He said he brought The Alternative Board concept to New Zealand because he enjoyed the role of being a sounding board.

“I enjoyed that role with Graeme and thought The Alternative Board was a perfect way to continue. It's very satisfying” said Stephen.

He wants to expand The Alternative Board through New Zealand in the form of regional franchises but acknowledges that finding the right people is a challenge.

“The skills needed for this type of business service are not so common, so it will be a patient expansion,” he said.

Since 2012 he has been joined by two regional franchisees in Central Auckland and southern Auckland. Gordon Stuart is a former senior bank executive and Richard Simmons has owned and grown several businesses of his own.

ENDS


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