Strategic Advice for Entrepreneurs:
Establish an Outside Board of Advisors
Entrepreneurs are typically experts when it comes to their particular product or service, but sooner
or later they realize there’s a great deal more to know about running a successful business. That’s
when outside advice can be of real value. Entrepreneurs who are wise enough to recognize that
they don’t know everything are turning to experienced, well-connected advisors who can help their
businesses grow and prosper in ways they’ve never imagined. They look at their business and ask,
“What’s missing? Would it help to have more input on marketing or finance? Would I benefit from
getting advice from someone who has “been there done that?”
Unfortunately, the majority of small businesses are not taking advantage of
this easy-to-implement, low-cost strategy. Small business incubators and
women’s business centers around the country get it---establishing boards
of advisors is one of the services that most of them provide. In fact, I have
spent the last eight years witnessing firsthand the countless benefits that
outside advisors can bring to the table. The benefits are so clear to me
that I see little reason NOT to have one.
So why don’t more entrepreneurs have a Board of Advisors? For one reason, they may think
advisory boards are just for banks or public companies. For another, they may not know how to
establish a board or even why they should. In this column, we’ll look at the definition of an advisory
board, address the benefits, and identify some common pitfalls.
What is a Board of Advisors?
An advisory board is a group of outsiders selected by the entrepreneur to provide guidance and
support on issues critical to the organization. It is informally organized to provide support, advice
and assistance. Advisors are typically industry leaders, proven business leaders, customers, and
respected subject matter experts who are carefully selected based on the entrepreneur’s needs.
Advisors provide guidance versus governance. While f