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.