Find The Most Effective, Least Used Tool To Grow Your Business

What you’ll find:
● What this powerful but least used tool is
● How to use it for the benefit of your small business
● Get 11 practical tips on getting started right with the tool

Only a few small business owners and leaders know and use this tool. It’s no coincidence that these people are usually among the most successful in building highly profitable, competitive and sustainable companies.

What could it be?

It’s not any of these:

• An obscure tax loophole
• A mysterious marketing gimmick or tactic
• Some magical pricing scheme
• A “can’t fail” sales approach or strategy
• A financial manipulation technique guaranteed to pass IRS microscopic muster

Here Is A Clue

An Inc. Magazine article noted:

“An advisory board is a rare species in the small-business ecology…”

By now, you’ve probably solved the mystery of the tool a large majority of small business leaders either don’t know about or use.

The tragic reality is that many business owners are isolated. They talk to virtually no one other than themselves. They seal themselves off from new and different ideas, and from the experience of others who already have founded and run a successful business. They take the often quoted approach of “if you want it done right, do it yourself” to a self-defeating extreme.

Let’s be clear about what the tool is that I’m talking about:

Build and use a Board of Advisors (BOA)

(In case you’re wondering – networking groups are not a BOA and they are not an effective substitute for a BOA. Many small business owners belong to one or more networking groups for various positive reasons. Just don’t confuse them with what we’re talking about here.)

What Exactly Is a Board of Advisors?

A Board of Advisors is a select small group of advisors that provides non-binding strategic and operational advice to the senior management team, regardless of the business’ legal structure. Compared to a Board of Directors, a BOA is relatively informal and more flexible in its structure and operation. Because of its advisory nature, it does not carry the fiduciary legal responsibility of a Board of Directors.

Why Consider Building and Using a BOA?

Here are a few of the advantages and benefits:

  • The BOA invites a level of accountability from owners that doesn’t otherwise exist
    • When members are selected well, the BOA brings unvarnished truthfulness and objectivity to the business and its management
    • BOA members—individually and as a group—are a continuing source of fresh ideas and perspectives that management probably doesn’t get anywhere else
    • The BOA is an objective, skilled group of business owners and experts that provide a platform to receive and explore business development ideas and plans
    • BOA members bring specific skill sets and points of view that otherwise might not be available to the company
    • BOA members provide access to other people and resources that could be invaluable to the business, which otherwise might not be available

I believe the greatest overall advantage and benefit of a BOA is its ability to focus management and ownership on the longer-term development of the business rather than solely on its typical day-to-day operations.

Tips on Building and Managing a Board of Advisors

An in-depth discussion of this is too broad to tackle in a single SBOM section. There are many dimensions to consider and address when building and managing an effective BOA. Here’s 11 quick tips to get you started and on the right track:

1. Clarify the objectives and purpose of your BOA
2. Select, recruit and engage prospective members – start with three and later on build to five to seven. An uneven membership is best for many reasons
3. Ideally, select your BOA members with diverse professional and business backgrounds, i.e., finance, sales, marketing, legal, operations, HR, manufacturing (if your business is manufacturing-centric) and so on
4. Further, select your BOA members to match the developmental stage of your business, i.e., start-up or early maturity, so that you are getting advice and counsel that your business can use right away
5. Create a set of written mutually beneficial operating agreements for your members
6. Optimal size of your first BOA is three (not counting yourself)
7. Do not directly pay BOA members for their BOA service, but do pay for their expenses in participating in your BOA
8. Set your BOA meetings to once per quarter, preferably at a neutral location
9. Ask someone you know and trust to facilitate the BOA meetings; you should not facilitate the meetings yourself
10. Set 18-month “Term limits” for member participation, and then replace the departing members with new members
11. Communicate frequently with your BOA members between meetings and utilize them for specialized projects and advisory roles when appropriate

For further information about BOA’s check out these:

Inc. Magazine
Harvard Business Review
Business Week
Forbes

It’s time for you to be among the most successful companies in your field. A BOA not only can help you get there, it can help you accomplish this in a shorter amount of time.

Key Ideas

• Seriously consider creating and using your own Board of Advisors. It’s a powerful, inexpensive and easily available business-building and development tool, regardless of where your company is in its evolution.
• Access, read and save the BOA articles provided in the four links to other highly regarded publications.
• Discuss the possibility and advisability of building and using a BOA with other successful business leaders you know and respect.
• Ask other business leaders how they built and use their BOAs.
• Follow the 11 tips on building and managing your own BOA to get you started