Friday, August 15, 2008

Advisory Boards Work

My column in this week’s Post looks at advisory boards. Ever since I worked on a series abut advisory boards with entrepreneur Greig Clark for PROFIT Magazine last year, I am seeing more and more businesses that could use a formal set of advisors – to help them with marketing, developing contacts, sourcing financing, creating more efficient processes, improving their recruiting efforts, cracking new markets, and so much more.

The truth is, however, that advisory boards are complex structures that require the entrepreneur to be organized, proactive, inclusive and accountable. It’s like getting a dog. Once you bring it home, you're responsible for it forever: feeding, bathing, brushing and walking. The closer they get to your company, the more your advisors will expect to be kept regularly informed, consulted, heeded, and perhaps even rewarded for their efforts.

Yes, you're opening a Pandora's box.

But if you're the type that welcomes organization and governance, knows how to ask for advice (and take it!), and can swallow your ego and accept direction – you can really benefit from an advisory board that helps solve problems and expands your access to resources.

Where do you find advisors? Use your personal network, and that of your friends. Strike a balance between smart, communicative entrepreneurs and disciplined, experienced professionals. Meet with each candidate a few times and ask lots of questions to make sure you're compatible before you bring them on board – you may be going through hell together, so make sure they’re the sort of people you want on the journey.

My secret hope is that some bank, university or other organization that markets to small business will pick up on this. What we need is an annotated directory of Canadian entrepreneurs and advisors willing to participate on advisory boards. Any organization that offered to sponsor such a useful resource would make friends fast.

But I digress. Click here to read my Post column and find out why accountability trumps autonomy.

3 comments:

Alicia and Bob said...

I agree... accountability vs. autonomy will win out every time!

Stuart R. Crawford said...

Hi Rick

Great posting and awesome vision. We have something simliar to this in the IT Professional arena. HTG (http://www.htgmembers.com) has been in existence for many years and I belong to HTG3. The only Canadian in the group. I have also started HTG10 that focuses on Canadian IT Professionals. We are a diverse group from all over the country and the world.

We are also planning to do something in Calgary with Calgary Entrepreneurs (http://www.calgaryentrepreneurs.ca), that should be fun.

Cheers

Stuart Crawford
Calgary, AB
http://blog.itsuccessmentor.com

Don O'Connor said...

Augie Ray, in his August 2nd Experience: The Blog post, recommends the commission of an Advisory Board for businesses contemplating the introduction of Social Media in their organization. He suggests the formation of a group of employees who make social media part of their everyday life. Use internal and external networks.

Advisory Boards made up of employees can increase company morale by increasing employee development. Employee engagement is a win-win for all.

Excellent post!