Managing a small business requires paying attention to multiple areas of responsibility; accounting, marketing, operations, sales, customer service to name a few. Most entrepreneurs don’t have the knowledge and skills to successfully execute all of them on their own. To improve these areas of their businesses and discover ways to streamline processes, some business owners create advisory boards. Everyone needs good advice when running a business. Even those who have done it before consult experienced advisors for unbiased feedback before making key decisions or implementing major changes.
You can receive expert information and insights simply by forming an advisory board for your small business. An advisory board consists of professionals, with expertise in various business disciplines, who provide strategic advice to help an entrepreneur manage and grow their business. They are mentors, people who can provide knowledge, skill, and experience to help you be more competitive, think strategically, and provide advice about specific issues. They can provide feedback on ideas, assist with a problem, or simply offer thoughts about what’s happening in the world, and how it might affect your business.
Advisory boards offer an opportunity to learn from experts without the formality and structure of a board of directors. You don’t have to act on the guidance provided. You really don’t even have to like the people that you choose, but you must respect their knowledge and ability. Everyone must know the ultimate decision rested on your shoulders.
You should limit your advisory board to three to five members. Select a diverse range of perspectives and backgrounds. The qualities you’re looking for include honesty, objectivity, specific knowledge outside your skill set, good reputation in his/her field and/or community, and well-connected with networks that can be leveraged to assist you. You will also want your advisors to sign a non-disclosure and/or non-compete agreement.
Arrange a mutually convenient time and location, and prepare an agenda that addresses your priorities without being excessive. Include plenty of time for questions, both to and from your advisors. They may raise issues that hadn’t occurred to you, and pose scenarios that the group can collaborate on.
A good place to start might be taking a fresh look at your business plan, something every entrepreneur should do regularly. A lean business plan addresses, in short paragraphs, what every business owner needs to know to manage strategy, tactics, execution, and essential business numbers. It exists for internal management, not for outsiders. It stays lean and simple with bullet points for essentials and a collection of lists and tables. It should be reviewed and revised often so it stays fresh.
Port Charlotte SCORE mentors are from various areas of business such as Sales, Marketing, Management, Purchasing, Accounting, Law, Engineering and more. These folks have experience in wholesale, retail, international business, exporting and importing, non-profit, restaurant management and much more. Any of these volunteer professionals would be excellent candidates for membership on your advisory board. Begin by signing up for a mentor at PortCharlotte.SCORE.org. After you meet with your mentor they will have a good idea which of our mentors would serve you best on your advisory board.
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Port Charlotte SCORE is a Chapter of The SCORE Association, dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses by educating and mentoring entrepreneurs. Volunteers provide confidential business advice to meet the needs of both start-up and existing entrepreneurs at no cost. Request a mentor at www.portcharlotte.score.org. To learn how you can become a mentor call Don Benjamin at 941-249-4440. Follow us on Twitter; @charlottecscore