Why Your Business is Never Too Small to Have an Advisory Board

hands opening a boxWhat do charity organisations, medium sized businesses and the Prime Minister have in common? Simple. An advisory group.

I am sure you would agree that anyone serious about starting and growing a viable business has and needs an advisory group to provide regular, high level strategic advice on critical business issues that impact on long term sustainability and profitability. So what about YOUR BUSINESS?

Informal Works Best

Informal advisory groups work especially best when you are starting out. As you are navigating your way through the minefield of information, people and regulations as you start crafting your niche, this is a great time to start building a team of experts, specialists, entrepreneurs and professional bodies you can keep in contact with on a regular basis, especially as you build and develop your business plan.

Even if you have been in business for a while, it’s never too late to do your business plan because many people do not do one (so don’t feel bad), especially if they were not seeking finance from banks or investors. However, without a broader perspective and insight into your business model and insights you will become myopic and lose sight of profitable long term leads and opportunities. By leaning on the expertise of external people who have a reputable track record in business, you will be able to informally access high level information and advice at a fraction of the cost and time.

I overcame my fear, insecurities (imposter syndrome) and lack of gravitas to approach complete strangers who were definitely high profile personalities to not only meet me but ‘shamelessly’ support me in growing the business. At first it was nerve wrecking but today this is a vital part of my business strategy – network, meet, learn and implement!

How to Find the Best People

Many of us work in organisations where we have access to valuable information, resources and people which can help to start your business and potential grow it successfully.

When I first started out in business, I was working for a global company that was very profitable. Although I wanted out, I was not too dumb to realise that they were doing something right it just wasn’t right for me to stay. I knew that when I stepped out on my own I was going to have to the CEO of ME Inc and that meant I better know how each department worked and inter connected in order to provide a seamless service that contributed to the ongoing success and bottom line of the organisation.

At the time I crafted a loose business plan and then decided to set up an interview with the Director of each area of the business to learn about setting operational objectives, priorities and acquiring the leadership competencies required to accomplish the goals (I am not a believer of leaders are born because you can learn anything you want to if you are committed and hungry enough). This was the most valuable exercise I have done in my business. The company had hired the best minds from Red Brick Universities and I was getting direct access to the executive management team knowing that other ‘sensible’ entrepreneurs were craving this opportunity.

These interviews helped me to not only shape the business, but opened my mind to new possibilities and helped to me to identify immediate and potential skill gaps that would impact on the longevity and viability of my business if not rectified.

In addition to this I looked at meeting people who I admired across the business and also who I admired in the public arena. I overcame my fear, insecurities (imposter syndrome) and lack of gravitas to approach complete strangers who were definitely high profile personalities to not only meet me but ‘shamelessly’ support me in growing the business. At first it was nerve wrecking but today this is a vital part of my business strategy – network, meet, learn and implement!

I believe it was my persistence, passion and positive enthusiasm that opened doors, pushed barriers and helped me to jump hurdles. At no point once I decided to do the business did I feel it was going to fail. I did not start to be part of the 80% club that failed within three years because it was not an option. My fear of going back to work for another autocratic boss was enough to ensure that I give my business my all. I truly appreciate and respect those people who have been prepared to share their professional skills, insights, acumen and experience to grow my business at no cost other than time (and patience).

People ask me what keeps me going over the years?

I tell them no matter what is going on around me, I use positive visualisation to reframe negative thoughts and experiences because I knew what I was doing was making me feel more motivated, inspired and alive than I had been in the corporate world. Because of that certainty I knew that I was attracting the right people to help me and they were making recommendations and opening doors and guiding me to other talented people and in the right direction.

At this point I have to advise that if you can help it, try to keep family and friends out of your business if they do not have the outlook, vision or skills required to grow your business. I have made this mistake and today I realise that many of them do not understand your vision and no matter how wellbeing they are, they are more likely to be a hindrance and at worst, an emotional vampire and dream stealer rather than business enablers. This is because they do not understand what it means to have that “entrepreneurial itch” go after the impossible and they make a practice of never going after their biggest dreams because they lack the skills, drive and motivation to create, manage and lead a successful business.

This is why business advisory boards are vital. Not only to they offer technical, practical and data driven advice but by offering a mix of backgrounds and experience, they provide support, motivation and strategies to help you achieve the unseen – which is make your dream a reality.

How Big Is Your Opportunity?

When you have a ‘big’ business idea then you have to commit to your dream no matter how many people say no or how small the opportunity given – the goal is to find the best (and talented) people that will support your long term vision.

Today we can approach people via LinkedIn (my favourite) or other social media platforms to reach people and expertise on a global basis. There is no excuse to not creating a face to face or virtual; formal or informal advisory board to support your business goals.

Once you start working with people who over achieve big goals in their business, you will find that you will start to become more confident and result driven as you accomplish bigger and bolder results in your business.

I conclude by saying this. It’s great to say follow your dreams, but I say yes, but ensure that you have an advisory team behind you. Not only will they help you commit to your idea but also help you to be accountable for your long term success and steer you without judgement in the right direction. Of course I say, get a mentor and/or sponsor but they lack the senior-level management or pragmatic, real life, strategic business experience needed to help you to overcome the many obstacles; explore opportunities, achieve business goals and solutions in the same way a blazing hot advisory board can do for you. This is your magic box of possibilities that help you to turn your dreams into reality.

If you are looking for additional support to move your business forward then contact me at www.soniabrown.co.uk to explore possibilities.  Don’t delay, this is a great time to take your business to the next level of success.

About the author

Sonia Brown MBE is our Business Blogger. Sonia Brown MBE is a business communicator; coach; trainer; writer, uber connector and diversity maverick. She is a branding strategist and contributes to a number of radio shows, magazines and newspapers on women, diversity and enterprise issues. Find out more: Sonia Brown, @soniatalks

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