You may have the best small business ideas in the world, but succeeding in business requires you to understand the business of running a business. Operating a business of any size is not like mixing together the right ingredients for a casserole and then letting it cook in the oven. It’s a continual, evolving process, and you have to develop and tweak your processes and systems to make it work. One of the best ways to learn to run your business better is to pull together a board of advisors.
It’s important to be honest with yourself about what you don’t know. Once you identify learning gaps, it’s best to pull together five or so people who know more about business than you. When you start thinking about who might be the best suited for your advisory board. Start with an existing entrepreneur, an existing or potential customer, a mentor who may not be in your industry, a lawyer and an accountant to recruit to your board.
You can always realize a strong return on investment by allowing specialists to advise you in areas in which you are not trained. As the business owner, you always need to be focused on your most valuable tasks. In addition to specific skills and processes, your business can benefit from small business advice on a broader, more holistic level. Using a board of advisors is invaluable guidance for your business.
Don’t Let the Concept of a Board Intimidate You
People tend to think of boards typically as formal Boards of Directors, an intimidating collection of high flyers and successful moguls, and in some cases, they are that. But there are multiple ways to put together a Board with whom you can work and from whom you can learn. Your small business board of advisors doesn’t have to be formalized and you don’t necessarily have to call it a “Board.” As a small business owner, your Board may be a loosely defined group of people who know what they’re doing and are willing to share their wisdom and guidance with you. Whatever you call them, they can make you more successful.
Mentors Who Have “Been There” Offer Valuable Small Business Ideas
Some business principles are tried and true, and you don’t have to stumble upon the right way to do certain things by trial and error. Whatever your industry, from machine parts to spa services, there are certain business fundamentals that can help you when applied correctly. Developing relationships with a handful of mentors who are willing to share insights with you, and really listening to them, can be of enormous benefit, and can sometimes prevent you from making blunders by learning from their mistakes. These people do not have to be in the same industry as you, but should be people who have made their own successes and are willing to set aside time to talk with you.
Tips on Choosing Your Board
People you choose to advise your business should not have a financial relationship with you — business or personal. Independent advisors, members who don’t have skin in the game, are most impartial. At the same time, you want people who aren’t afraid to give you their honest opinions. You don’t need a “rubber stamp” Board, but a collection of people willing to tell it like it is. You should select people who understand the direction you are taking your company and should also buy into your vision. And you want to choose people for your Board who bring the right knowledge and skills to the table. That means people whose skill sets complement rather than replicate your own. With the right group of advisors, your business can establish its strategic direction and you can be more confident you are orienting your employees and departments toward common strategic goals.
If you have concluded that putting together a Board is a wise move for your small business but aren’t sure how to proceed, I encourage you to participate in my Wednesday #Smallbizchat sessions on Twitter. This peer-to-peer mentoring program helps business owners like you get answers to business questions. You just need a Twitter account to participate. Join us for our next #Smallbizchat. You’re sure to learn something while interacting with leading business owners, authors and subject matter experts. In fact, it’s kind of like having a board of directors!
Republished by permission. Original here.