Why hasn’t your business formed its own strategic advisory board? For a lot of entrepreneurs, the excuse is time! “Excuse” may be a harsh term, because there are some challenges in “making the time.” We are so busy working in the minutia of our business on a day-to-day basis that having any time to sit, breathe and think is just a stressor. It can be lonely to be the top dog making all the decisions—and hoping those decisions are the right decisions.
That’s why having an advisory board is so important. An experienced team can provide useful insights for growing your business and even provide some much-needed moral support.
The Selling Points of an Advisory Board
The most valuable benefit is that a board could help you validate your decisions. Are you making the right move by hiring another person? How is the latest technology going to enhance your growth? Are you on top of market changes that could significantly impact revenue? Use your advisory board as a sounding board for all the questions that are keeping you up at night.
The other benefits of having a board can be significant:
- Expanded networks and connectivity that go beyond your circle
- Strategies to help you grow your business and meet your personal goals
- New and different perspectives that can help fill the gaps in your skills
- Non-fiduciary responsibilities for the advisers, which can make it easy to recruit
- Accountability for you as the business owner, which helps drive your success
- Advice for positioning your business to sell
What Should You Consider Before Taking the Plunge?
- Get it in your head that you are the driver and you are not losing control by incorporating advisers in your business. Advisory board members can be fired.
- Take some time to think about your company’s challenges so you can find advisers who align with your goals. You need to do this before you start randomly asking who will serve on your board.
- Make a list of your weaknesses to help you determine skill sets that can fill the gaps.
- Look at your current mentors and determine if you already have a champion who should be your first ask.
- Your first ask should also be someone who is not a vendor, friend or family member. Open yourself up, and think beyond people you know.
What Does Implementation Look Like?
- Ask three to five advisers to serve on your board, and be clear about what you’ll ask of them.
- Plan for four quarterly meetings, each lasting three hours and facilitated by you. Advisers should agree to serve on your board for at least one year.
- Always be prepared with agenda, materials in advance, documented short- and long-term goals, and financials.
- Be overly prepared for the first meeting, which should include time for the advisers to introduce themselves to each other and to your business.
- Have advisers sign a basic confidentiality agreement.
- Solicit feedback! You don’t have to take the feedback, but graciously accept it and always be appreciative of their time.
The key to a productive relationship with the advisers is to always be prepared, appreciative and coachable. No one has any time to waste, including you and your advisers. This model of business strategy growth can be extremely effective if you invest the time to manage the process.
Training on how to create an advisory board is available right here in our community. The Enterprise Center of Johnson County provides a lunch-and-learn that can help you tactically implement your advisory board. Learn more at www.ecjc.com.