If you haven't yet tapped into the power of business advisory groups, you are missing out on a hugely powerful small business resource.
But just forming a business advisory group isn't enough. You need to make the most of your business advisory group.
It's not uncommon for business advisory groups to fail or to not deliver much of a value add to a business owner. To make sure business advisory groups achieve their goals, it's best to keep your eye on these five success factors for a business advisory group.
The most successful business advisory groups are committed to a high degree of transparency between the business owner and group members. At its core, the advisory process is a mentoring relationship in which professionals invest themselves in the life of a business owner and his company. If the owner is unwilling to deliver a factual representation of his challenges and limitations, the advisory process will be unable to deliver tangible results.
When they form their advisory group, most small business owners tend to seek out professionals who share their background, experience and expertise. The result is a skilled, but homogenous advisory group that lacks the breadth of perspectives necessary to the owner thrive in today's tough economic environment. Rather than looking for advisors who are similar to you, intentionally recruit individuals from a range of fields and industries.
Focus on Outcomes
Peer groups can sometimes become so focused on conversation that they neglect to pay attention to outcomes. But unlike other peer groups, a successful business advisory group should be extremely focused on quantifiable results. Although much of the group's time will be spent talking about the processes involved with achieving those results, the larger focus is always on goals, objectives and deliverables.
As a side effect of their focus on outcomes, successful business advisory boards also place a high value on accountability. An advisory board is a voluntary mechanism to help owners improve both their companies and their own performance. Although the advisory group has no fiduciary responsibilities or genuine authority over the owner, savvy owners choose to make themselves accountable to their advisory group, especially when they fail to follow through on strategies or when their leadership fails to deliver targeted outcomes.
Connections and networking are critical features of effective small business advisory boards. The best advisory groups fully invest themselves in the company's success and are willing to go the extra mile to help the owner achieve his goals. For many advisory group members, this means giving the owner access to their industry connections and business networks. Your advisory group's networking ability can also be a useful recruiting tool since well-connected advisory groups find it easy to attract new members.