At some stage, our friends get sick of us asking them for advice. This is usually because when we get it, we do nothing with it!
We also outgrow their advice. Our friends want to have our backs, they want to help us and see our businesses grow – but we reach a point when the advice we need is beyond what they can give us.
Where are you now? Have you outgrown the advice you’re getting?
Who do you ask for advice?
The model for asking for advice typically goes like this:
We ask our business peers
Then we ask our family and friends
Then we ask our industry network groups
Then we ask a business mentor
Then we ask our accountant or lawyer
Then we create an informal advisory board
Finally, we create a formal governance board or professional advisory board
Let’s work through this model.
When we start our business, we turn to our peers for advice. These are usually business owners in similar industries, but they can also be anyone who has started a business! We want to know: How did they do it? When did they hire their first staff member? What are they doing for a bookkeeper? How do they find customers? What’s their sales funnel?
Once we get as much information as we can from this group, we talk to our family and friends. These are people we trust, but they can also extend to “Aunt Jo”, “Uncle Bob”, a long-lost cousin who created a business, someone who knows someone who knows someone … Just how practical is this “business advice” we receive at family barbecues and birthdays?
We then turn to our industry group. This is the peak body for our industry, which usually holds regular networking events and annual conferences. Industry groups allow us to learn as much as we can from other people who are doing what we’re doing, who have done what we’ve done in the same industry.
Now, it’s time for a business coach or mentor. We need someone who can hold us to account from several perspectives: financial, strategy, customer, market, people, systems and processes, and corporate social responsibility.
Usually, after about 18 months, we get a little bored with our coach or mentor. So, we start talking to the professionals – our accountant and lawyer. These people typically provide quarterly advice on “how to grow your business”.
Once we realise there’s more to business than financials, systems and processes, that a successful business is about people and customers as well, we create an informal advisory board. These are people we respect and trust, who we sit around the table with once a quarter (often during dinner with a bottle of wine!) and ask, “Well, what about this? What would you do?”
After a year or two, our informal advisory board gets tired of answering the same questions, saying the same things over and over. Again, we find ourselves stagnating.
“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.”
– William James
We’ve found that, typically, business owners will only change through pain.
What amount of pain will it to take for you to realise you need to do something differently? What will you choose to do?
So, what’s next?
Outgrowing your family, friends and peers is a little like outgrowing your favourite teddy bear. We love it; it’s probably still on the shelf. We have fond memories, but it’s just not right for us anymore. What’s next?
Business owners are increasingly finding that the solution is a formalised professional advisory board.
Business owners often try to decide between having a governance board or an advisory board. A governance board is about conformance and minimising risk, whereas an advisory board is about problem solving and focusing on solutions. Which one do you need?
If you are serious about taking your business to the next level, a formalised advisory board is essential. This team of professionals will hold you to account, put you on the path to achieving your goals, provide targeted advice and take your business from good to great.