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Are we there yet? Knowing when to implement an Advisory Board.
It’s great to see discussions about Advisory Boards growing in Australia. When I speak at executive events or directly with other entrepreneurs, the “Are we there yet?” question is top of mind for them. They see the value and results that an Advisory Board can bring to their organisation but they need help determining when they are ready to implement their own Advisory Board.
Advisory Boards are not a destination but rather an important signpost on your entrepreneurial journey. And while timing is important, the real question that should be explored is not when but how will you implement your Advisory Board.
But before we explore the how, let’s look at some of the triggers where an Advisory Board can provide meaningful support to an organisation:
- Establishment generally occurs at a key business life-cycle stage: Emerging/ Start-up phase, as well as organisations experiencing Growth, Change or considering Sale or Exit;
- The organisation is seeking Investment, Export or International Expansion opportunities;
- The organisation needs Crisis or Situation Management expertise and input;
- The CEO/Managing Director needs a new insights and external skills to assist with problem solving and strategic advice.
In my own businesses, establishing an Advisory Board wasn’t driven by a single trigger but a combination of many factors. My business was experiencing rapid growth but I wanted to be open to other possibilities and not limited to my own line of sight. As the Managing Director I wanted the professional support of trusted Advisors without losing my autonomy and decision making ability. And finally, I wanted to have meaningful conversations about the sale or exit from my business- both to ensure I was positioning the business for stability and sustainability as well as maximising the return on investment.
Are we there yet?
The reality is if I waited until I thought I was “there” to establish my Advisory Board, I would have missed out on all the valuable advice and insight from my advisers to support me on the journey. In my experience working with entrepreneurs and progressive organisations in the Advisory Board space, the main indicator of Advisory Board Readiness (the “when”) is the internal commitment and foresight of the organisation’s Leaders to implement and maintain a well-structured Advisory Board (the “how”).
A Well Structured, Sustainable Advisory Board
Establishing an Advisory Board is not directly linked to organisational size, turnover or age. We know that the organisation must have clear internal commitment from the CEO/Managing Director. We also know that successful Boards have a clear structure and implementation. This includes everything from ensuring the Organisation has identified any internal issues for consideration/action, establishment of a Charter, Roles and comprehensive recruitment process.
Establishing an Advisory Board is not directly linked to organisational size, turnover or age but rather the internal commitment and foresight of the organisation’s Leaders.
Undertaking an Advisory Board Pre-Assessment is advisable for any company thinking about creating an Advisory Board. We conduct a thorough Board Readiness Assessment with all organisations prior to supporting them in implementing an Advisory Board. The outcome of this process is not always a recommendation for the immediate implementation of a Board. Often, the Assessment identifies priorities that the organisation needs to address to ensure they are Board Ready.
Action items are mapped out into a clear plan to support progress and forward momentum. The Advisory Board Centre also supports organisations with access to Experts for specialist advice and highly qualified Advisors and Chairs for Board recruitment.
Supporting the Entrepreneurial Journey
Many entrepreneurs have a trusted, informal network that they access to “bounce idea off of” or to “pick each other’s brains”. These networks are invaluable but informal advisory boards rarely drive results. Formalising your access to high-quality and successful advisors through an Advisory Board takes this process to a new and exciting level.
If you are considering an Advisory Board to support your entrepreneurial journey, I encourage you to read about Greg Kentish, a fellow entrepreneur who has been enjoying the support and success that his Advisory Board has brought to his group of companies.
Establishing an Advisory Board is a big step to take for organisations – both in terms of leadership commitment and financial investment. If you’d like to discuss if it’s the right time for you or your organisation, please contact us at the Advisory Board Centre.
About the Author
Louise Broekman is a well known in the Australian business sector for her innovative approach to supporting entrepreneurs and high-growth organisations. In 2004, Louise established an Advisory Board for her own business which has provided her with first hand experience in how a well run Advisory Board can positively impact CEOs. Since 2012, Louise has served as Chair for Advisory Boards and developed the Advisory Board Centre model.