Why your small business should have a Board of Advisors

Owning a small business is the dream of many in this country and I have been fortunate to be a small businessperson for almost 5 1/2 years now.  The first 4 1/2 were under the umbrella of another entity and the last 12 months have been under my own umbrella, Ryan Search & Consulting.  Owning a small business can be the best of times and the worst of times, even in the same day or the same hour.  Regardless of the challenges, I would not go back to working for someone else unless I absolutely had to. 

Being a business owner affords you with a little freedom, but it also saddles you with tremendous responsibility.  As Harry Truman said so candidly, The Buck Stops Here.     At my current size I am very much the hub of the wheel and I do have a few spokes, trusted individuals who work with me on a variety of projects I do in the Leadership Consulting, Executive Search and Recruitment Process Outsourcing work I do.  I see the business I have as one that will go through seasons.  Right now we are still planting many seeds and there is a harvest that is self-sustaining.  The long-term intent is to grow the seeding so that the harvest increases and we can feed many.   The crux of this post will be on how I plan to make that transition from self-sustaining to the feeding of many.  The initial catalyst for this thinking came after reading the book “The e-myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber.  This book helped me to realize that my business has to be more than me.  This may sound somewhat elementary to many of you, but so many small business persons never get past that massive roadblock.      If you are in a small business, or considering starting one, read this book first.

One of my strategies to help get over this roadblock involves forming a Board of Advisors for my firm.  There is nothing magical about what I am doing, but I know there are others out there who are well respected and knowledgeable in fields I want to penetrate or who know more about core business issues than I do.  Both of these issues are the prime drivers behind who I choose to pursue for my board.

As I have gotten older I have also learned that I don’t know as much as I would like to about many areas.  I don’t say that with regret, but I offer it as a piece of self reflection that many business owners may not realize.  The best leaders and business owners are smart enough to surround themselves with others who know more than they do in key areas.  That is the core point to having my board of advisors.

I am currently in the building phase for  this board and we plan to meet for the first time in early November.  Here are some of the key responsibilities I see for my board members:

  • provide leadership and advice
  • assist with policy and procedures
  • offer advice on financial management and budgeting
  • review service offerings and delivery
  • offer advice on promotion and marketing of the business

This is not an exhaustive list, but it reflects the pillars or the foundation of what I seek from these trusted advisors.

I hope that I can engage them sufficiently so that they feel they are getting an adequate return for their time invested.  I also hope they find value in the others they meet on the board.

I know that I will grow from going through this process and I also suspect I will have issues arise I have not considered.  That is what makes this so much fun.  If everything were predictable, then why would I bother?

Let me know your thoughts about having a board of advisors.  Do you see the value?  What else would you ask them to provide?