You Shouldn’t Walk Alone: Advisory Boards as an Option for Growth

Luke Mysse, in his talk “Options for Growth”at the Creative Freelancers Conference last month in Boston stated, “You shouldn’t walk alone” – get an advisory board to keep you on track with goals & finances.

Why? It’s a place to be encouraged. It will take a lot of vulnerability but Luke strongly advises “you must do it to get better at running a design biz.” I sat up and took notes. I can see how this would be a scary, yet worthwhile goal to implement in my business plan.

The logistics entail gathering approximately four people with business success (ex: attorney, financial planner, accountant, CEO) – it’s apparently “professional altruism” on their part – and invite them to a 2-hr lunch, 1x/quarter to look at sales, finances, go over the books.

This tip sparked a spirited Twitter conversation over the next several days between myself, Luke, and a few other conferencees: Luke (@lukemysse), Jack Kinley (@labmonkey), and Jenny Poff (@jennypoff ), in which Luke continued his helpful coaching specifically around the idea of generating an Advisory Board meeting agenda, and encouraged us to report back on our efforts.

For the first meeting:

  • Start with “thanks”
  • Talk about why an advisory board, and my biggest challenges
  • Let them introduce themselves
  • Set expectations and communication/feedback guidelines
  • End by saying “thanks” again

For subsequent meetings:

  • Update on prior meeting “to-dos”
  • Give a sales report
  • Report on financials
  • Discuss 3 big issues I’m facing – what’s the most urgent issue that must be solved in 30 days? 60 days? 90?
  • Listen!
  • End with a list of tasks I will commit to by next meeting

Thanks for the words of wisdom & encouragement, Luke!

I’m not sure who to approach to join my board, but I’ll be attending a networking event at the local chamber of commerce this week. That could be a good place to try broaching the subject, and see what kind of response I get.

Do you have an Advisory Board for your business or organization, or thinking of starting one? Please share your Advisory Board journey…


2 thoughts on “You Shouldn’t Walk Alone: Advisory Boards as an Option for Growth

  1. I’ve messed with it in the past and it was probably ok at the time, but most of the stuff that you need to do, you already know, just have to do it. The problem you can get sucked into is spending too much time planning and creating reports or presentations. Which is all good and everything, but you only have so much time. Spending it instead on new product/service ideas, your marketing efforts (website, etc), working with current customers (nothing better than referrals), time spent with any colleagues not to mention family, friends or hobbies, all of these take time as well.

    That said, if you happen to find some really great advisors that really know what you’re going through, and are willing to help without strings, then you’re probably very lucky and shouldn’t waste the gift/opportunity, :).

  2. Lot’s of good conversations about this lately 🙂 I had one last week and mentioned that even if you had just one person, a mentor that you can meet with, that’s a good start. Don’t let the stress of finding the right people keep you from doing it. Start with something and build on it.

    I personally like four people because I’m able to weasel my way out of just about anything. Meeting with four people keeps that from happening.

    At the end of the day you setup whatever works for you and keeps your business on task. It’s also about life stuff to, I didn’t start pursuing healthy living until someone on my board brought it up.

    Great post.

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