Can Peer-to-Peer Advisory Boards help you be a Better Business Owner?

Like every business owner, when you start your own business, you are automatically enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks. And just like in any other school, you will learn a great deal about a wide variety of topics, you’ll get to hang out with some really cool people, and you’ll spend a lot of time, money, and resources paying the cost of tuition. Additionally, if any of your failures are public enough or spectacular enough, you may also lose your reputation and standing in the eyes of your target market.

Peer-to-peer advisory boards (also known as mastermind groups) are one of the best ways to lessen the cost of this tuition. Advisory boards are designed to give privately held companies many of the same advantages as a board of directors, without the governance components. Advisory boards are moderated by a professional facilitator, and typically meet once a month. A company owner presents information to the board about the different challenges and opportunities he/she confronts, and the board gives advice or feedback.

When business owners form boards on their own, they typically must pay the members a salary, equity, or some combination of both. And, they seldom have a professional facilitator. An advisory board allows the business owners to sit on both sides of the table: as CEO of their company, presenting to their board, and as a board member on each of the other companies’ boards. By forming shared boards, everyone gains the same benefits. They learn from each other and there is no cost other than the shared cost of the facilitator.

Additional benefits of joining a peer-to-peer advisory board include:

Better decision making for better results

It is well known that during the decision making process, the more diverse the talent base of the people involved in a decision, the better the results from that decision. Large corporations solve this problem with sizable, diverse senior management teams, and a board of directors made up of senior executives who have ownership interests in the company. Smaller companies, without these resources, must find other ways. By participating in a trustworthy, proven network of peer business owners, you can receive the diversity of input you need to make better decisions and obtain better results.

Improved clarity of direction and focus

As a business owner, you are constantly pushed and pulled in different directions. Customers, vendors, and staff are all trying to get their piece of your time. This can result in you getting buried in your business, instead of rising above and focusing on the strategic necessity of working on your business.

Membership in a peer advisory board ensures that a certain percentage of your time is dedicated to the strategic goals of the company. By sharing these strategic discussions with your board, you are forced to clarify your strategic direction. The board serves as a sounding board on which to test your strategy, before you start spending significant amounts of time, money, or other resources.

Increased accountability

Each month in a peer advisory board, you would discuss what you had planned to accomplish in that month, what you actually accomplished, and why there is a difference. This alone provides a level of accountability that otherwise is unlikely to exist.

For example, if you tell your board that over the next month you are going to update your business and marketing plan for the coming year, they are going to expect you to present the results of that exercise at the next meeting. Most of the members who were surveyed on this topic agree that it is easier to accomplish the task itself, than it is to admit to your board that you didn’t complete it.

Reduced isolation and increased confidence

Owning your own business can be a daunting challenge. You are frequently faced with opportunities and obstacles that can leave you uncertain and insecure. And yet, it’s difficult to find someone with whom you can confide. Your employees are looking to you for confidence, surety, and direction. They don’t want to see uncertainty and insecurity

The old adage “It’s lonely at the top” is never truer than in these times. However, you don’t have to go it alone. While peer advisory boards are definitely not a networking group, they do provide you with the opportunity to connect with your peers, in a professional setting, completing useful work. They give you a group who can share in your concerns and provide valuable feedback, without damaging your position as a leader.

Improved work/life balance

It’s easy to see that the best way to improve your life is to improve how your business is performing.  Entrepreneurs frequently get consumed by their business, and once buried, find it difficult to dig their way out on their own. Peer advisory boards help you cut through the challenges that are holding you back, and find a clear path to developing a more efficient and effective business. Improved business effectiveness results in your having more time available to enjoy your life.

At the end of the day, it comes down to results. Is your business producing the kind of results that you would like to see? Does the idea of having a support system of fellow executives who can help pull you out of the trees, so you can see the forest, appeal to you? Come join your fellow business owners in discovering a better way to solve these problems. Join a peer advisory board today.

Michael Jones is the Owner of CEO Focus of Jacksonville, which provides business coaching, professionally facilitated peer advisory boards, and other support services to the Northeast Florida business community. Previously, Mike worked as a consultant and a coach in many different industries in both the for-profit and non-profit communities. Mike has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Ohio State University and an MBA from the University of North Florida.  Northeast Florida business owners can learn more about Mike’s peer advisory groups by calling him at (904) 504-7770.

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