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Advisory Boards Offer More than Great Advice

Solution Provider

There is one thing I know for sure about myself, and that’s that I don’t have all the answers to my business problems. So I have an advisory board for my business that's comprised of people whose opinions I respect and admire. Each has helped me tremendously throughout the years.

 

No matter how small or large your business is, you can benefit from building an advisory board. Talking through various challenges with others helps you gain clarity and formulate strategies that are often more successful than what you might have done on your own. An advisory board is a cost-effective way for your small business to obtain high-level expertise so you can adjust your course if need be.

 

In addition to solid advice, board members may also be able to open doors for you by utilizing their networks. As part of your team, they have a vested interest in your success, so don’t hesitate to ask for “warm” referrals.

 

Entrepreneurs are often eternal optimists, and while that’s not a bad thing, it can have its disadvantages. Sometimes we miss the red flags because of our “can-do” attitude. A strong advisory board can help you avoid potential pit-falls by asking you tough questions and getting you to drill-down into the detail.

 

To create an advisory board for your small business, determine how many people you want to serve on your board. Too many people often results in lower productivity. Therefore, consider having no more than a handful of people, and choose them wisely. In fact, selecting the right individuals for your board is critical. Consider people who complement your personal skills and strengths. Make a list of the areas where you need the most help, and use this list to identify advisory board members.

 

Remember to look for people who are strong enough to take unpopular stances and give you honest feedback. A “yes person” isn’t right for this group. It’s also critical that your board members understand the dynamics of a small business and the challenges of your industry. And you should consider whether you are truly willing to listen to advice that runs counter to your ideas. If you're defensive, then you're wasting your time and theirs as well.

 

To get the most benefit from your advisory board meetings, always be prepared for them. Choose a location for the meeting that is free of distractions. It’s a good idea to distribute essential information in advance of the meeting so your board members have time to review it. After your meetings, keep the lines of communication opens. Keep them updated on your company’s progress. And remember: Ideas without action aren’t worth much. It’s up to you to take action.

 

By the way, I sit on a number of advisory boards for small businesses and I am always honored to be asked, so don’t be hesitant to invite people. Honestly, I get a lot out of the meetings and enjoy learning about a variety of businesses.

 

Does your business have an advisory board? Share your thoughts here or on Constant Contact's Facebook Page.

SusanSolovic

3 Comments
DMM
Not applicable

Very nice and succinct discussion about the benefits of forming an advisory board. The criteria mentioned for selecting members is candid and crucial. 

Not applicable

During my 32 years in business, I often felt alone and in need of a guiding hand.  Whe it was suggested to me that I form an advisory board, I folled through and found it excpetionally helpful.

 

My board included three senior executives, and we met three times a year for a full day. One of the board members was tenchinally my "competitor",  but operating in a different area of the country. (I recruited him through our industry association).  The others were local business people with marketing and financial experience.  It was key that I balance the board with members hving different expertise.

 

At each meeting the Board helped me set goals, and then they held me to making progress towards those goals. Often there were follow up phone calls, to make sure I was on track. I found having a Board provided  an excellent second opinion and  I did not have to worry that their guidance was motivated by personal interest (such as might happen with an employee or shareholder).  

 

I second the above opinion and strongly advise every entrepreneur to form an Advisory Board. Most people will do it for a minimal cost because they will feel honored that you want their advice.  

 

If a multiy person Board seems more than you can handle, you can also get the same one-on-one mentorship from  SCORE, a FREE business counseling service offered by retired entrepreneurs in conjunction with the Small Business Administration.  See www.score.org 

 

 

Not applicable

Great post with very clear concepts, thanks for the info. regards