By Richard C. Bruder

Advisory boardsWhat are the three greatest challenges facing your business today? Who do you talk to for advice about these challenges? Your spouse? Your lawyer? A trusted friend? Your golf buddies?

What if we could shut off the phones, stop the interruptions, and put the fires on temporary hold for an uninterrupted afternoon. What if, during that time, you sat in a room with the key people in your business and two or three successful outside business people, who had expertise in areas helpful to you. The discussion is focused on improving your business, achieving your goals, meeting the challenges in your business, brainstorm ideas unique to your situation to meet those challenges, refine your vision of your business, identify action steps to execute those ideas, and follow up on ideas from earlier meetings. In short, a professional focus on your business.

How would you benefit from that type of meeting?

Recently, a friend told me that two years ago his business broke even, but in the last year his business earned $1 million profit. Same people, same business, same product, what was the difference? Focus. In the second year—by focusing on the core business—guided by the Advisory Board, by being mindful and aware of what the business was doing (and what it should be doing), profits increased by $1 million!

That $1 million meant huge bonuses for the owner and for his sons (who are active in the business); relief from the “will I make payroll” worry; the comfort of an equity cushion in a tough economy. Most important, it meant the comfort of knowing that the business is “hitting on all cylinders” – he has figured out a way of doing business which virtually guarantees that the business will successfully meet its challenges, today and in the future. This “way of doing business” is focus, and the way to achieve focus is the Advisory Board.

An Advisory Board is like a Board of Directors for your company, in which you get the benefit of strategic thinking, but it is unlike a Board of Directors because you don’t give up any control to outsiders.

The perfect candidate for an Advisory Board is a business owner who has a vision for what they want their business to be in the next 1-5 years, and who sees their job as “working on their business” not working in their business. I know that phrase seems overused these days, but it’s true: the best CEOs know that their job is to keep fine-tuning how their business serves customers and makes money; their job is not management, but leadership. The Advisory Board works beautifully to help them keep that leadership focus.

The business owner who “wears all the hats” sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees. Your Advisory Board gives you that fresh perspective.

The family business owner is related to his management team (father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin). Your Advisory Board can help you mediate the complex family/business interrelationship.

It’s lonely at the top, when you’re struggling with “front burner” issues. The Advisory Board can generate creative solutions to your challenges.

Your Advisory Board is a group of four to six businesspeople: you and your co-owners; your key managers (possibly), and two to four (non-competitor) successful businesspeople, who ask good questions and have great insights. The Advisory Board meets quarterly, with a structured agenda that focuses on your front burner issues. Examples:

  • creating your succession plan;
  • creating your compensation policy;
  • developing a strategic plan for your business;
  • “running the numbers” (how are you performing financially compared to last quarter? Why?);
  • optimizing your management structure;
  • focusing on any issues you

Next Steps: We have organized successful Advisory Boards for many clients. We have access to a number of outside advisors which we can interview together, to determine which ones you are comfortable with and can trust. In short, we can organize a successful Advisory Board dedicated to helping you and your business. Please email Richard Bruder for a copy of his article “Advisory Boards Q & A” and for further details.

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For further information regarding these matters, please contact Mr. Bruder at via email or 248.619.2596.