I love boards. Not sawed lumber, though I imagine that comes in handy if you need to build shelter from the rain. But those management structures that are designed to provide guidance, oversight, and strategic direction to an organization.

I believe that all solopreneurs and small business owners should get some kind of board experience. I’ve served on (and ran) both my 270-unit condominium association board and that of the rather-large IABC chapter in the Baltimore-Washington region. I’m now serving on a business advisory board for a student-run group that initiates and implements micro-development projects in Washington, D.C.

The best boards are run like businesses; and, like any business, they offer an opportunity to gain valuable skills. Boards also challenge us to test our limits and reach beyond our comfort zones.

So here are six big benefits I gained from serving on boards:

  1. Financial management skills, including building and managing million-dollar-plus annual budgets.
  2. Contracting, including bidding out large projects.
  3. Personnel management, including hiring and firing, and dealing with a sexual harassment claim.
  4. Project management (large-scale construction and renovation projects).
  5. Teamwork, including learning how to build consensus.
  6. Leadership.

Next post I’ll talk about my secret board desires. But now I’d like to ask you: What have I left out? What skills and insights have you gained from serving on a board?

Photo by Biscarotte (Flickr).