Updated: Oct 17, 2019
So, you have a business......great! Do you have all the answers you need in order to be successful? Chances are that you’ve come across situations or opportunities that you would have benefited from having people that could guide you, given you their point of view and checking your blind spots. Every business can benefit from having an advisory board. If you’re just starting out, funds may be a bit hard to come by, so if you aren’t able to pay your board, take them to lunch or dinner for their time. Or acknowledge them during the holidays with a small token of your appreciation.
So who gets to be on your advisory board? Ideally a CPA, an attorney, an existing business owner and a small business coach.
A CPA (or a person with a financial/tax background) will be able to support you with understanding your finances, your accounting and possibly explain questions about taxes. Every business owner should understand their financial statements (and especially your Cash Flow statement) in order to be successful. You don’t want to rely on others to explain where your money is going. So, learn as much as you can from this person.
An attorney is key to answer any legal questions, repercussions of documents/agreements/contracts you have or will sign. If your business is in need of contracts and different agreements, this person could support you in drafting these for you (at their hourly rate) and guide you through the process. They’ll also be able to better draft these documents if they know your business well.
A business owner can also be a key advisor since they will have gone through a lot of the same trials and tribulations that you will experience through the life cycle of your business. They will understand first-hand what it’s like to go through tears and triumphs of your business and continue to push forward because it’s what you believe in. It’s important to have a cheerleader like them in your corner…..there will be tough times to get through.
And lastly, a small business coach (ideally your LIGHTS coach) will fill in any gaps or direct you to a professional that can support you with any questions you have. A coach will have worked with many different types of businesses and be able to support you with what has worked and hasn’t worked for others. They will also be able to connect you with government contacts, financial contacts as well as other business professionals in their network.
Bring this group together at least quarterly to brief them on what you are seeing in your business, opportunities and issues you may be having. Getting a different point of view could be key to solving the problem you're facing and going after new possibilities.
So who gets to be a part of your advisory board? And are there any other people that you would include?
The LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network catalyzes the creation of companies to create high-wage jobs and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted and opioid-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, uniquely matching the complex problems and opportunities facing our corporations, communities, and individuals to a network of strategically-placed Innovation Gateways. From this, new marketable products grow from these challenges through our work with locally partnered Innovation Gateways' business incubators and makerspaces, across a tri-state 28-county area.