Entrepreneurs, Is there an Advisory Board in Your Future?

Can an advisory board help you grow your business?Can an advisory board help you grow your business?

I recently had an interesting conversation with a potential client. She asked me the secret behind so many of my clients’ successes. I told her they don’t have much in common. Just two things, an informal advisory board and me.

Her next question?  How do I help clients build a successful advisory boards? How do you find the right individuals to increase your business’s success? Many smaller businesses can gain from having an advisory board. These boards can help them see and learn about their best options faster.

Here’s an article I wrote about the role an advisory board can play in your business strategy Can Board Members Help You Build a Stronger Strategy?

Advisory boards can help your business grow

I have been on advisory boards for over twenty years. I’ve helped many of my clients find the right people to take their businesses and their lives to a different level. Many times, these board advisors became future executives and investors within my clients’ organizations.

Want to know more about how freelancers can make a contribution to your advisory board? You might enjoy Advisory Boards: A Great Way For Freelancers To Grow And Contribute At Cybrary And Elsewhere

Here are several keys to help you get the right members on your advisory board. The better your team members, the more successful your organization becomes. Learn to harness the power of these great contributors.

Get outside feedback on regular basis

From my experience, over 60% of midmarket CEOs never get feedback from people outside their immediate leadership team or their professional advisors. If you want to improve your organization’s performance faster learn to spot and recruit great talent to your informal advisory board. 

Many of my clients have found as their advisory board grows so does their business. In today’s fast changing business environment its critical for leaders to know their strengths. Then find people to work with that possess complementary capabilities.

Know your strengths

For example, many of my best clients are brilliant at creating a vision and strategy for their markets.  They need a person, like me, who can help communicate their vision to a wide range of stakeholders.

The key is understanding that you are creating a team culture that embraces accelerated learning. Make sure you choose people who are not only great at what they do but are also able to teach and share their ideas with others. If you spend an hour with a true expert, it not only saves you time, but also money in the long term. 

Recruit great people for your advisory board

For this reason, I suggest finding the best people  to work with on your projects. One of my early clients taught me how to identify and recruit advisory board members very quickly. A couple quick questions and they were in or out.

Seldom did this client miss the mark when recruiting members for his advisory team as his organization continued to grow and prosper.

Look for opportunities to get advice from people who lead similar sized organizations or, better yet, slightly larger organizations that understand the growing pains you might be experiencing. It’s a good idea to find team members who understand the unique challenges you face as you grow your organization. The more real world experience they have the better they are at helping you create a solution that you can implement.

Look for leaders who can help you grow.

 The hard part for these team members is they tend to avoid stepping on toes when it comes to helping a CEO grow.   Let them know you are looking to become better at what you do and that you are open to coaching.

When I’m facilitating these team meetings, I often ask all team members to leave their titles at the door.  I model the behavior for other team members. I include several strategic ground rules to make sure my client gets the most out of their advisors. It’s a fine line, but one that produces significant results if embraced.

Hire individuals who can help my client’s team improve. 

It’s critical that both the advisory board member and the executive understand what expertise the advisory board member brings to the table.  

You’re better off with an advisory board member who is focused on their expertise than having one who thinks they’re good at everything. I’ve found brainstorming is a highly effective way of getting new ideas out there for discussion. Take the pressure off all the participants on the team and you can get some amazing ideas in a short time.

The best advisory board members are very coachable

When I work with advisory team members, I might provide them with some coaching to help them feel like they got significant value for their time invested.

There are many ways to structure these projects, so all parties are ecstatic about the results they receive. For many of my business owner clients, this is a great opportunity to grow and develop new skills and capabilities.

For my CEO and Managing Director clients, they are able to make their decisions faster with a bias towards action because of their advisory boards.

Many times, advisory boards lead to future opportunities to work together in positive way. In the future, we talk about other advantages you get having an advisory board.  I’ll give you a hint, I know of several M&A deals that came from their advisory board members. See you next week.

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