Recently in our Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses 35 small business owners were asked by a show of hands how many had an advisory board. No one raised their hand. My perception is that small business owners perceive boards as something left to large corporations with fancy board rooms and high-powered connections.
No matter the size of your business, an advisory board can assist you in looking at your business through a different lens. While your spouse, friends, and families are sure to offer advice, whether asked for it or not, an objective group of industry or business associates may be able to point out the flaws as well as the opportunities that you as the owner might not see. A board member should be selected based on what they can bring to the table in terms of contacts, experience, or knowledge.
Advisors should be willing to tell you the truth, be willing to say no, be willing to challenge the status quo. They should have expertise in an area where you are lacking. They should have somewhat of a vested interest in your success and be trusted with the utmost confidentiality. A board should also be that extra nudge for accountability.
Many small business owners express loneliness and isolation when all decisions fall to them. An advisory board can bring balance and confidence to the decisions owners face and should be valued partners in your pursuit of success. Start the year off with seeking help from outside professionals who have your best interests in mind and are willing to have the hard conversations that will sharpen your perspective and improve your business.