An advisory board can help take your business to the next level

Posted by John Hamilton, VFG on Mar 23, 2018 11:24:44 AM
A group of businessmen sits around a table discussing the company's issues.

As a business owner, do you ever feel alone when making a tough decision?

If you don’t have expertise in, for example, finance, and you need to know how much cash your business will need throughout the year if you pursue a new growth opportunity?

I recommend that you create a business advisory board.

An advisory board is a group of three to five individuals of your choosing who offer the expertise you need. The group meets with you regularly (monthly or quarterly), builds a relationship with you, gets to know your business, and offers expert advice and strategies to keep in sync with the today's fast-paced environment.

This article from the Australian Institute of Company Directors talks about the benefits of an advisory board.

You retain control

One beneficial element of having an advisory board (in contrast to a board of directors) is that you, and only you, remain accountable for moving your business forward. Advisors don’t make decisions—they offer recommendations based on their expertise and experience. The power remains in your hands—always.

You may say that you have advisors now—an insurance person, a CPA, an attorney. That’s great. But although having one-off conversations, such as quarterly with your accountant, may garner some advice, it may not be sufficient.

Regularly meeting and discussing your business goals and challenges with people interested in your success is the way to move your business forward.

Conversational setting

Meetings with your advisory board are conversational, open, discussions about your business goals and concerns. There’s no need to invoke Robert’s Rules of Order or meet in a dark-paneled corporate board room. You can meet over lunch on a deck with a view, and the agenda is what you make it.

Although the meetings are relaxed, you need to be open and direct with your advisors. Hemming, hawing, or holding back on what you think you want to do will not benefit you. Your advisors can’t help you make the best decisions if you can’t or won’t share all the details they need for informed suggestions.

Your advisors can help you challenge assumptions and make better decisions. The most valuable among them aren’t shy about asking the tough questions that you need to answer to move your business forward. Members act as a sounding board and offer ideas from their unique perspectives.

Who to choose?

Ask yourself: What expertise and knowledge do I need for my business? What values matter most to me? What personality type do I enjoy working with?

Your advisors should be people with qualities identified by these questions.  They also should believe in you and want you to be successful.

Having an advisory board is an exceptional way to invest in your business, because it complements and extends your current management team (especially if you're a  management team of one).

If you still have doubts, check out this study from the Business Development Bank of Canada that shows, empirically, how small- and medium-sized businesses with advisory boards financially outperform those that do not have advisory boards.

John Hamilton is Vested for Growth's Managing Director and the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund's Vice President of Economic Opportunity.

Tags: Management, Advisory board, Growth

Share this with a friend: