An Interview With John Courtney – Chief Executive Of Boardroom Advisors

How did you come up with your company name?

The company name was designed to “do what it says on the tin” as we provide advisors at board level, mainly executive directors of a general nature such as operations, commercial or managing directors. We played around with different names and matched them with web addresses and researched current trading companies with similar names. We then chose the logo with the help of a graphic design company – the speech marks are there to illustrate us advising clients. But much of this gets lost when you have been trading a while and people just recognise the name and the logo. We have done a lot of branding work and now have a small PR agency, so the name is getting around!

What was the trigger for you to start your own business or work for (this)…company?

This is my 7th business over a 40+ year period (yes, I am 101 in start-up years!). I knew there was a need for heavy hitters without a heavy price for scale-ups and SMEs as I did this work as an independent before forming Boardroom Advisors.  The expansion was the risk, but it has gone better than planned as we now have 14 very senior Regional Directors and over 60 Advisors who have all scaled businesses. We have such wonderful people, I am very proud. And we cover from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to Essex. And we have recently expanded in to Portugal and Ireland. My wife Kath was my business partner in the previous business, a digital marketing agency, and she is Marketing Director for Boardroom Advisors so we are back working together again. Amazingly, it works fine – our very different skills blend together well.

How do you see yourself in 10 years time? Personal and business development

I will be 131 in start-up years by then, you would think I would be retired.  But no, I will never retire – I find business too interesting!  I just love playing with the Rubik’s Cube of business and trying to make things better for businesses and consumers.  I have been in many sectors from chemicals trading to agricultural products to sporting goods to management consultancy to corporate finance to digital marketing and now this. Lots of business problems and opportunities are the same, and I love cross-fertilizing solutions from one sector to another. So, in 10 years time I will probably have a part-time Managing Director running Boardroom Advisors and I will be on business number eight – just don’t ask me what sector that will be in as I don’t know!

What is your mission/vision? 

A global business helping scale-ups and SMEs grow, expand, raise money and exit. We have full UK coverage already and have started to expand in Europe through Portugal and Ireland.  I was in Australia for a few weeks last year and met up with some people there, and now we are having in depth discussions with several people in USA. But similar businesses to Boardroom Advisors have operations in South Africa, the Far East and so on, so I see no reason why we cant do the same. I love travelling and getting things started, so this can be a mission for quite a while!

What is your burning desire? 

Oh personally I have been lucky enough to play cricket for England! Not at full level unfortunately but at Seniors age group. Kath and I have just come back from 5 weeks touring Australia where we won the Ashes for the third consecutive time! So my burning desire is to play in the Seniors World Cup in Australia in October and to bring the trophy home, but this is at risk because of COVID-19 and may get postponed. And none of us are getting any younger…so the opportunity may pass me by.  And then, if the opportunity came up, maybe even to captain my country in at least one match?

Tell us something no one knows about you (books, awards. hobbies). 

Being so old, I have done so much stuff! My first job was at EMI where I made a phone call for Bjorn of Abba, an early cricket business got its 15 minutes of fame on TV and newspapers and I had 2 radio interviews with Michael Parkinson, a marketing consultancy client had model and singer Sam Fox as an ambassador, through mentoring early stage businesses I got to go to St James’s Palace and mix with royalty … you can see why I find business fun! On awards, I was proud to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the tech community in Bristol and Bath – but that just reminds me how old I am!

John is a Lifetime Award-winning entrepreneur who has founded 7 businesses over 45 years. He has been ranked #30 on City AMs list of “Top UK Entrepreneurs” and #2 on a list of “Top UK Marketing Influencers”. John has been a Judge at the National Business Awards and the Amazon Scale-up Awards and a panellist at many conferences: Tech for Britain, Online Influence, Like Minds for Entrepreneurs. He is a super-connector with 37k Twitter followers and 25k LinkedIn connections. John is CEO of BoardroomAdvisors.co, providing directors to start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran six of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.