Saturday, July 7, 2012

Top Tier Relationships: Do You Need a Board of Advisors? (The Waldo Factor, part 12)

Almost every small company I have seen up close or advised as a consultant could use a Board of Advisors, especially those whose owners are rarely, if ever, wrong.

These firms tend to do one of two things: stagnate at a certain financial plateau, or die.

Even my small company (there is just me and my wife) has had a Board of Advisors, though not currently. I plan to correct this very soon.  A Board of Advisors can provide what I refer to as "adult supervision" to an entrepreneurial firm that is truly ready for some growth. 

Over the years I have also been on several Boards of Advisors: boards for events (FOSE and eGov), associations (The American Small Business Coalition), start-ups (Pest Patrol, which sold to CA: HyLighter, a really cool company with a cutting-edge collaboration tool) and others. Each has been rewarding to me in various ways, and I have been able to add value in each situation.

Well chosen and well-run Boards add dimensions to small companies that are simply out of reach to most companies.

Choosing Board members whose experience in your market niche allows you to tap into multiple wells of expertise. These various sources of experience can help you avoid pitfalls, shorten learning curves for you and key staffers, open some financial resources, and introduce you to other market nuances that you may not find on your own, and much more.

Another dimension is the top tier relationships each board member can bring that expands your exposure exponentially. Chosen well, your Board members can make some key introductions for you that might otherwise take years, if they were to happen at all. 

Being introduced by a Board member also raises your credibility when you are being introduced. In a market that is driven by relationships, this can be the ultimate value-add. The Waldo Factor here is being found not by everyone, but by the few who can make a big difference for your company.

Marissa Levin, founder and CEO of Information Experts, has a new book out on the topic: Built to Scale. I have had it for nearly two months and am just getting into it - and I am sorry I waited: it is a good read with some great advice. She deals from experience with the many facets of putting a successful Board together and using it well.

Get the book, digest the book, then get aboard!

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