More Than Just Business Advice

advisory

As a small to mid-sized business owner, it can be difficult to find success completely on your own. One way to get help, as discussed in my last blog, is to bring in an outside advisor, but another powerful path is to join a peer-advisory board.

I hear from many of my members that the largest advantage of a peer advisory board is getting completely unbiased opinions from your peers who act as a sounding board for your business concerns and provide real life experience, that help you step back and think, bounce ideas off and if they have a trained facilitator they can also provide wise counsel from an experienced mentor.

Like advisors, there are numerous peer advisory boards that claim they can help your company better reach its goals.  As an owner or senior executive, you do not have the time to interview all of them, nor have the time to invest in the wrong one, so I have outlined a few questions you’ll need answered before deciding on which peer advisory board is right for you.

  1. Investment.  What type of upfront and long term investment is required from you. Some peer advisory boards are free and some cost tens of thousands of dollars.  I’d suggest that if you choose a free one, you might not get exactly what you are looking for.
  2. Private 1-to-1 mentoring sessions. Make sure that your peer advisory board also offers private 1-to-1 mentoring sessions with a professional, trained business coach. This is essential, as what you discuss in the board sessions will be followed up on by your coach.
  3. Divergent opinions.  Check out the others on the board, are they owners or senior executives like yourself or are they middle management or juniors?  You want a peer advisory made up of your peers in the true sense of the word.
  4. Competition. Are there any competitors on your board?  You need to know who you are opening up your business to, so make sure the organization is transparent with who is on the board.

 Do you want to join a peer advisory board? If so, what has lead to this decision? If not, do you think you may consider this in the future?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.


How Do You Know When It’s Time To Bring In Outside Expertise?

Expertise

Every business owner considers bringing in outside expertise at one time or another; sometimes it is in the form of a financial, sales or marketing professional, or sometimes it’s a strategic business-planning advisor.

There are literally thousands of experts to choose from, but when is the right time to hire one and why?  In my 30 years’ experience working with business owners, I often hear how important they feel it is for them to have a person they can confide in and rely on to help them in making business decisions on everything from employee management practices and operations to office locations and strategic growth plans.

Business advisors can help your company in various ways—from guiding strategic thinking to helping you get “unstuck” in your business progress.  I’ve outlined five key reasons why you might want to consider bringing in outside expertise into your company:

  1. An unbiased party.  A good business advisor always invests time and intellectual capital in their clients.  They come to the organization without the “baggage” of personnel issues, board pressure, organizational history, or the impact of past decisions. Imagine the value of having an independent expert who has the ability to look at circumstances and situations without bias.
  2. Specific expertise.  An advisor is like a specialist that doesn’t reside in house.  This is particularly relevant if you have few staff as there will be times when, for instance, you need market research, a marketing plan, or a strategic business plan, and it just doesn’t make financial sense to carry that level of staff expertise on a full-time basis.
  3. Divergent opinion.  Advisors facilitate divergent opinions into a strategy or work plan much more easily than an internal person would because they have expertise gained by working with multiple organizations. They have formed opinions and can synthesize what they hear into something workable for your team. They can easily cross organizational boundaries or work between staff and departments to build bridges.
  4. A different perspective. Sometimes an outsider’s opinion is more valuable than those expressed by staff.  This is not necessarily because advisors have a better crystal ball, but rather because they provide a fresh look. Often, an advisor’s perspective is what’s necessary to convince senior executives to move forward on an issue that’s difficult, such as expense reduction or income diversification.
  5. An impartial and expert opinion.  Ever revisit the same problem with the same set of solutions? Because advisors are not attached to one organization, advisors see many different organizational models and many different solutions to common problems.  While you certainly should expect a customized solution to your particular problem, isn’t it intuitively better to tackle problems armed with the collective thinking of many organizations and the knowledge of their successes? An impartial and expert opinion by an advisor provides a “due-diligence” perspective that neither volunteers nor staff can supply.

 

Do you think it’s time to hire an external expert? If so, what has lead to this decision? If not, do you think you may consider this in the future?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.


Be Accountable First

leadership-and-accountability

Accountability is always top of mind for all the business owners I work with. Most struggle with how to hold their people more accountable. When I came across this blog from Sam Silverstein the author of “No More Excuses” I felt it addressed this issue head-on and wanted to share it with you.  Sam believes the answer to getting more accountability starts with holding ourselves accountable to everyone we want to hold accountable to us.  He says it all starts with us and it’s not so much about “holding” people accountable as it is about “helping” them be accountable.  Please click on this Be Accountable First link to read his post.

Did you find this article helpful?  Do you agree with his comments on accountability?  I look forward to reading your comments below.