Why Should I Care About Governance?

As an entrepreneur, you probably mainly care about ensuring that your products are developed and moving and are out there, and that their respective consumers know about them, and are buying them. Generally, entrepreneurs think governance is something that big business and perhaps government concerns itself with, but certainly if it is for them, it is often an afterthought. My hope today is to convince you to consider governance on your to-do list, even if it means outsourcing it. Part of being a great entrepreneur entails playing to your strengths and ensuring that you build a strong support system around you and your business.

Governance provides a framework, a container within which you would be conducting your business. As your business grows from being an idea, to inviting more people to eat at your table, it provides you with a language with which you may communicate with your interested stakeholders. Think of the rules of the road. We all have an expectation (in South Africa) that everyone would drive on the left side of the road, and would overtake on the right if the need arises. What this does is assist all drivers to reduce commotion, confusion and chaos, and provides for order and a degree of predictability on the road. When your governance framework is in place, as you engage with your stakeholders, you are able to meet them with their respective requests, needs and demands without much hassle.

We know that life can be put into 3 different boxes:

  • What we know we know – normally our area of expertise, things we can do without thinking, a very comfortable space to engage in,
  • What we know we don’t know – normally things we farm out and are quite happy to let someone else to take over for us as long as they are done and don’t interfere with what we have to do,
  • What we don’t know we don’t know – usually this is when we start to feel stuck, we know we need to move forward and there are things that are required, but it is an uncomfortable space to be in for most people.

In my experience, when one is on a growth path like entrepreneurship, what we don’t know we don’t know comes up a lot in one’s journey. When these things come up, governance provides a systematic way of dealing with these things.Let us go on this journey, and make our businesses function better and sustainably.

Phuthanang Motsielwa is a Chartered Accountant, who co-founded and co-runs her firm PSTM Auditors Inc based in Johannesburg. She has also been a member of various boards and committees in various industries and continues to do so.

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