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Business Tip #1:  Why Form an Advisory Board?

Some of the most valuable advice we have received in our lives comes from those who have our best interest at heart.

“Always make sure you have a buddy with you” may have sounded silly at the time; but, it made sense once we gave it some thought and realized that we should never try to go it alone.  The same is true in business.  

Having an Advisory Board is like having a buddy beside you to look out for your welfare. There is also a greater chance for a fresh perspective to be embraced for problems that occur.  More opportunities can be identified to help expand and diversify your business. Specific assistance can be provided to assure continued success of your company operations.

Many become confused about the difference between an Advisory Board and a Board of Directors. In the end, it’s about determining what will be in the best interest of your company and its future direction. 

Basically, a Board of Directors exists and functions according to the legislative rules and guidelines established in the jurisdiction in which the business is incorporated PLUS legal precedence that has been assembled from lawsuits over the years that deal with corporate governance. An Advisory Board, a collection of niche experts that are appointed to offer knowledgeable advice, share ideas, and proactively scrutinize business operations, is not governed by legal statute.  It can operate the business any way the group prefers. You can think of it as an organized group of consultants.

The benefits of having an Advisory Board are access to:

  • High-powered and experienced talent that you could never afford.
  • Fresh, reality-based analysis of your company’s needs, talents and opportunities.
  • Significant business planning and process development expertise.
  • Enhanced and objective problem solving skills.
  • Mature guidance regarding the creation and perfection of a coherent and innovative growth strategy.

Are you ready to form an advisory board?  Here’s how. 

1. Decide which professions and fields of expertise need to be involved.  Membership should be multi-disciplinary and well-balanced.  Ideally, you may want to include a member that represents the public at large.  Overall, no one group or discipline should dominate the group.  A company that sells fire extinguishers might seek experts from such fields as fire protection, law, insurance, and emergency services.  However, a company that sells fire extinguishers and is owned by women could include those same experts but also tap into women-oriented support organizations such as the WBENC - Women's organization.

2.  Select the type of people you want to recruit carefully.  The sort of person you will want to recruit for your board will certainly be capable of handling sensitive issues and confidential information with discretion. Prospective members should be leaders in their fields and those whose intellectual integrity is recognized by their peers and the organizations representing their professions. 

3. Invite a balanced yet small group of members that can recommend a unified solution in a reasonable amount of time.  The board should be just large enough to ensure participation by all elements of the private and public sectors with an interest in what your product or services has to offer; yet, it should not be so small as to be viewed as elitist or a special-interest clique.  Ideally, five (5) board members is a good ideal number of members.  In the event of a vote, one of the members would be able to break a tie.

4. Promote the board as much as your business. Your selection of an Advisory Board should stem from your company’s ability to have the foresight and determination to set up a formal Advisory Board in the first place.  Owner / managers must be willing to present direction, strategy, problems and opportunities to the board in an open and forthright way. Otherwise, your Advisory Board can't help you. You must give credit where credit is due.  For a board to be a win-win situation, you must recognize and promote the board member's interests alongside your developments.

The bottom line…An Advisory Board can benefit your business; however, the amount of return you will receive from this resource all hinges on what you put in to it.

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Business Tip #2:  How to Bankrupt Your Business in Five Easy Steps

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 50% of small businesses fail in their first year of business, while 95% fail within the first five years.  There are lots of reasons - poor planning, poor funding, poor leadership, poor management and more. 

Below are the five easiest ways to guarantee that your business will fail - no matter if you are in your first year of business or have been in business for decades. 

1.  Tell investors you have a business plan. It's in your head and that's ALL you need to build a successful company.

What others have said about planning...

  • If you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail. -Tariq Siddique
  • Define your business goals clearly so that others can see them as you do. - George F. Burns

Without a documented business plan, your business will not reach its maximum potential.

2.  Skip the market and industry research, especially regarding your products and services. 

What others have said about research...

  • The one sure way to success is to know everything you can about what you do. - Donald  Trump
  • We are not fit to lead an army unless we are familiar with the face of the country. - Sun Tzu
  • There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate; when he can't afford it and when he can. - Mark Twain

Do you know everything there is to know about your marketplace and industry sector?  If not, you need to proactively research and monitor the marketplace.

3.  Keep your marketing plan as broad and wide as possible and attempt to sell everything you can to everyone you meet.

What others have said about developing a marketing plan...

  • If you make a product good enough, even though you live in the depths of the forest, the public will make a path to your door, says the philosopher. But if you want the public in sufficient numbers, you better construct a highway. - William Randolph Hearst
  • Authentic marketing is not the art of selling what you make but knowing what to make. It is the art of identifying and understanding customer needs and creating solutions that deliver satisfaction to the customers, profits to the producers and benefits for the stakeholders. - Philip Kotler

Although it is very important to target your initial first customers, your business must market products and / or services that appeal to a wide audience.  A successful marketing plan uses multiple mediums and techniques to reach target buyers.

4.  Hire inexperienced employees and teach them to build your business with "buzz" words.

What others have said about building an educated workforce...

  • The employer generally gets the employees he deserves. - Walter Gilbey
  • When you hire people that are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are. - R.H. Grant
  • Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing. - Oscar Wilde
  • You can use them (buzz words) to impress the gullible.  - Unknown
  • An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success. -Stephen R. Covey
  • Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience? -Thomas J. Watson

If your own employees have no idea what your business sells, then how helpful can those employees really be?  Your talented employees are your greatest salespeople!

5.  Ignore all the research and input you've gathered, don't implement a strategic marketing plan and believe that your lack of focused action will make you your first million.

What others have said about having a focused action plan...

  • Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. - Henry Ford
  • Strategy is a style of thinking, a conscious and deliberate process, an intensive implementation system, the science of insuring future success."
    -- Pete Johnson

So many business owners just "wing it" and use a shotgun approach at building a business.  A focused action plan will ensure your business reaches its maximum potential.

Are you building your business for success?  

Have a question for our business plan creation team?  Have a question for our research team about your business?  Contact Us.

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Business Tip #3:  Make Your Business One in a Million

A niche is an architectural term referring to a special place that’s designed to display or show off an object of some kind.  Finding your business’ niche will set your company off from others who do something similar and draw the best possible attention to you and what you can offer.

Set aside some time to reflect on whether your company's niche is clear and defined. Further, verify that this niche is what you truly want your company to become well known for.  If you can’t tell someone what your company does in 10 seconds or less, odds are you have yet to clearly define your niche. 

Have a question for our research team about your niche?  Contact Us.

  
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