Small business: Helen Cross - Cross Ventures

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Helen Cross, Managing Director, Cross Ventures acts as an independent director or advisor to the board for eight businesses in the SME space including NZ Tax Refunds, Power Business Service and SnapComms.

Helen Cross, Managing Director of Cross Ventures. Photo / Supplied
Helen Cross, Managing Director of Cross Ventures. Photo / Supplied

Cross works with businesses of different industries including technology, fashion, retail and horticulture. All are high growth with a strong focus on international growth. Cross Ventures, is a strategic advisory business focused on helping New Zealand technology companies expand internationally, which she founded with her husband Greg Cross eight years ago.

Where do the SMEs need help as opposed to the larger ones?

SMEs typically need help with getting the basics right for growth - customers, product, team, cashflowing growth are all important topics.

What are your skills as a director?

• Helping grow businesses from a strategic, operational and structural perspective
• working with stakeholders to agree an aligned long-term vision
• focusing forward and looking at team and resource requirements to gear up for growth
• assessing options and long-term implications
• strategic and financial planning
• being a good communicator

What are companies looking for from you as a member of their board?

They are looking for someone they can trust with a proven track record of navigating through inevitable challenges in high growth companies.They are also looking for an external pair of eyes around where the business is going and whether they are heading in the right direction.

My clients are constantly looking at new ideas and new directions and need help in navigating their path.

I can also offer them further bandwidth which I provide through my Cross Ventures team, my diverse experience through a range of companies and markets and my trusted networks.

Can SMEs be a bit slow to establish a board? What do you think a board can do for a fast growing SME?

It does vary but if they do have a board, their growth is typically accelerated. In New Zealand, I think there is a positive focus on mentoring and advisors.

A board can help a business align shareholder vision and achieve results faster through visibility, measurement and tracking against a plan.

Why do you help SMEs when you could just work with larger companies? What do you get out of it?

Both roles are enjoyable and challenging for different reasons. SMEs are really rewarding as you are generally hands-on and can have a direct impact on performance and strategy
It can involve a broader scope of involvement across the business and it's enjoyable watching the owners succeed.

How do SMEs hear about you?

All comes from referrals and word of mouth, primarily from existing or former clients or trusted networks.

Corporate philanthropy the small business way.What do you do with your favourite charities and how does it align with your business?

- NZ Herald

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