Forbes published an article on the importance of peer advisory boards, “10 Reasons To Join A Peer Group.” While I thoroughly enjoyed the read, I noticed the author overlooked a few key benefits that I’ve been lucky to witness firsthand as a facilitator. As a business advisor, I take pride in facilitating a peer advisory board that has proven results for my members. The peer boards help business owners reach new heights and succeed in ways they never imagined.
Peer advisory boards led by trained facilitators embody the power of collaboration, accountability, and perspective. A deep bond can be created and a business asset is formed that business owners crave and are hard pressed to find in any other forum. I’d like to share with you my list of top 7 reasons many business owners join a peer advisory board:
One of the greatest benefits of joining a peer advisory board is the exposure you’ll receive to other small business owners much like yourself. Entrepreneurship is unlike any other job, which means the challenges you face on a daily basis are just as unique. As a member of a peer advisory board, you’re able to share ideas with people in similar situations. As a result, the business ideas you’ll be provided with won’t just be erroneous but tried and true.
As the owner of a business, there aren’t many people you have to report to other than perhaps a Board of Directors or other shareholders. When you’re part of a peer advisory board, however, your fellow business owners will often hold you accountable for the executive decisions you’ve elected to make. Many peer groups meet once a month and they often expect some form of progress each month.
We’ve all had ideas that we considered to be foolproof, but as we’ve come to know in business, not every idea is feasible. In becoming a member of a peer advisory board, you’ll receive constructive criticism from the board regarding your potential business decisions. This allows you to fill in any gaps that you may have overlooked.
With competition at an all time high, it’s difficult to know whom you can share your ideas with. With peer advisory boards, anything that is discussed is confidential among members, so you’ll receive reassurance in knowing that you can freely discuss your business decisions without compromising trade secrets.
As previously mentioned, you’ll surround yourself with like-minded entrepreneurs as a member of a peer advisory board. What this means is that you’ll witness them experience successes and/or setbacks, just as they’ll witness the same for you. Either way, you’ll challenge one another to learn from your mistakes, grow, and ultimately succeed.
A common benefit I hear from board members is that a peer advisory board allows them to focus on developing their business rather than working in the business. Don’t get me wrong, one of the best qualities of a business owner is someone who knows the ins and outs of their product or service, but when it boils down to growth, strategic decision-making is a necessity.
As the saying goes, “it’s lonely at the top.” But it doesn’t have to be. Your fellow board members are there to support you through your journey, and many if not all are experiencing, have experienced, or will experience the trials and tribulations you are facing as a business owner. They are as much of a support group as they are anything else.
Have you ever considered joining a peer advisory board? What would be your top reason for joining?
As mentioned in an earlier blog, the largest advantage of a peer advisory board is getting completely unbiased opinions from your business peers who act as a sounding board for your business concerns. Providing real life experience, your peers help you step back and think, are available to bounce ideas off of and keep your business on track.
Do they work? When many business owners think of a peer advisory group, they are a little skeptical as to whether or not they really work. All we have to do is look to the thousands of successful programs like Weight Watchers, or any 12-step program for the answer. The truth is they work because we not only crave the communal sharing and camaraderie, but we gain huge benefits from sharing mutual understanding and insights.
Sometimes entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized business owners feel they are “alone at the top” and find that meeting regularly with a peer advisory board, facilitated by their board’s facilitator, not only helps them to gain insights they otherwise wouldn’t have, but makes them more accountable and keeps them on track to meet their business goals.
Even if a business is large enough to have its own board of directors, many peer advisory boards can act as a sounding board where someone could present issues to a collection of business professionals and bright individuals for feedback before taking their concerns to a company’s board of directors.
Although there are many types of boards, a peer advisory board is something quite special because it allows business owners to unite and share common experiences. For example, all businesses have personnel, operations, finance, and marketing concerns. If one member on the board has had a recent personnel issue, they can share their experience as to how they handled it, discuss what types of infrastructure needs to be in place and even where they posted a job.
Staff is not going to challenge a business owner, and owners need to have their ideas and decisions questioned, a peer advisory board will challenge you to consider new approaches to tackle a problem that they too have experienced.
Do you feel you could benefit from a peer advisory board? If so, in what way do you think you could benefit? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.