Do You Need a Personal Advisory Board?

Written by Carol Coughlin. Posted in Business Leadership

What do the most effective CEOs have in common? Is it their ability to see opportunity in places overlooked by others? Their willingness to take calculated risk? Their ability to succeed by driving others to succeed? They are distinguished not only by what they do, but what they do not.  

The best CEOs do not know everything, and they do not go it alone. A board of advisors exists for no other reason than to ensure a CEO has the tools, advice, and support he or she needs to create and sustain growth. Could this be the strategic advantage you need to catapult to the next level?

What Exactly is a CEO Advisory Board?

Imagine having a team – your team – that could analyze difficult situations, weigh options, address gaps in your experience or skill set, connect you with invaluable contacts, and deliver sound, expert advice. You’d be invincible. You could, probably, take over the world – if this were a cartoon and you had a cape. But you could, certainly, improve your leadership and the wellbeing of your company.

This team – your A team – is a non-fiduciary board. Unlike your board of directors, they are not responsible for financials or the governance of an organization. Instead, they are here for you, focused exclusively on your company’s success – and yours.

While board meetings can be as informal as gathering once in a while for breakfast, for best results, we recommend 4-6 sessions per year that last at least half a day. You present your financials, as well as key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to help the group immerse itself in the company and focus on the areas they need to work on.

Who Benefits from a Board of Advisors?

We are working with a manufacturing company that just hit $100 million in revenue. The owner participates in a peer advisory group, and while he is receiving some information from his fellow CEOs and business owners, it isn’t enough. While beneficial, these groups are not devoted exclusively to Jim in Company X and his dreams, challenges, and questions. It’s a peer group; 15 people need to talk about their businesses.

This owner wants to venture into new markets, and he’s considering franchising. But the peer group isn’t providing the advice he needs to make a sound decision. He’s not even sure if his management team can make the jump with him.

What’s Jim of Company X to do? He could ask his attorney for advice; he could ask his accountant. He could see what the old Magic 8 ball has to say. But there is a whole different level of people who can help him get to the next level, an advisory board.

These are best-suited for companies that are $20 million+ and want to get to the next level. Perhaps the CEO feels a little lonely at the top and has no one from whom to seek advice; perhaps he or she, like our client, is unsure of the best strategic move to make to continue growth. In any case, these advisors can make the difference.

How Do You Create an Advisory Board?

We can help you figure out which types of advisors will be best for your unique needs and goals. For our manufacturing client, for instance, we might suggest another CEO who owns her business and has made that jump to franchising. We might suggest a supply chain expert in a market the owner wants to target.  

To determine the best fit, we assess where you are now, your goals, your strategic plan, and we identify gaps in your management or current advisory teams. Which type of advisors is best for you? If you know specific people in your network you can call upon, that’s great. If not, we can help you find them. The goal is to identify 3-5 experts who will act as trusted advisors and mentors.

You do not have to figure out the complex challenges of your business alone; you do not have to solve puzzles by yourself. There are people who have walked in your shoes, people who can help you figure out a more efficient, effective path to growth and sustained success.

Carol Coughlin

Carol Coughlin founded BottomLine Growth Strategies, Inc., in 2006 as a way for small and medium-sized businesses to access the same high-level financial and operational expertise that gives large companies a distinct advantage. Using her own extensive corporate experience and willingness to sit in the hot seat as a catalyst, Carol helps BottomLine Growth clients climb to the summit of their success.
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