"My business is small, it's just me," said my skeptical client. "Well, isn't that just a perfect reason to create an Advisory Board?" I countered.
Solopreneurs are often skeptical about the idea of developing an Advisory Board; but truly, no business should be without. An Advisory Board is a powerful growth tool, a strategy-producing think-tank, and a confidence-boosting support mechanism. Just because "it's only you" doesn't mean you don't deserve, or can't benefit from, one of the most widely used resources for strategic and creative development in the world of business.
What is an Advisory Board? Think back to when you created your company, or the last time you came up with an idea and discussed it with family, peers, or friends. This gave you the opportunity to voice your idea out loud, articulate your concerns and excitement, and receive valuable input — all to create the momentum needed for the next steps. Feels good, doesn't it?
Now imagine a group of people who each bring a unique quality, skill, and/or vision to the table; imagine someone who understands the financial risks and benefits, someone who represents and thinks like your ideal demographic, another who has a brilliantly creative mind for marketing, and perhaps a technical person who will enlighten you to the extent of technology necessary to implement your goal. Wow! How empowering does that feel?
Who could I ask? Think big; don't limit yourself to close friends and family. Think about the people you know - retired executives, peers, vendors, friends of the family, your parents' friends, etcetera. What type of input could you most benefit from? If you could actually hire your own high-level employees, and the sky was the limit, what skills and qualities would you look for? Look outside your sphere of influence and ask people if they know of someone who meets any of those criteria and may be willing to meet with you.
Why would anyone want to do this for me? Most often, the members of a small business Advisory Board want to do it because they too have a passion for business and a genuine desire to help someone succeed. But, there can be other benefits. Your board members may have an opportunity to grow their own businesses by networking and sharing resources with one another. Board meetings provide a platform for expansive thinking and sharing of ideas that often benefit the members in their own life and business. You might consider providing a nice meal or decadent dessert at your meetings. In some cases, entrepreneurs provide modest stock options to some or all of their board members — or a small stipend for attending the meetings.
Next week, we'll take a look at how to run your Advisory Board meetings to create the biggest impact on your business. Meanwhile, please share your questions and success stories here on The Solopreneur's Million-Dollar Mindset!
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.