What A Board Of Advisors Brings To Your Middle Market Firm’s Table

In Strategy Resources by Brandt A. Handley

Throughout your career progression, you likely have had many advisors. At first, it may have been friends and family who were a sounding board. Next, you may have had a few mentors formally or informally. Lastly, you may have sought the advice of an expert or consultant. Ideally, you have gotten exactly what you needed at each step.

Look at where your Middle Market organization has grown from and consider where you’d like it to grow to. You may realize there are gaps in what your teams know. Or there may be big questions that they’re struggling to know how to answer.

It could be the right time to consider forming a board of advisors.

How Would Your Company Benefit From A Board Of Advisors?

A board of directors exists to offer governance or oversite into an organization. However, a board of advisors has an entirely different agenda. Without any say into how things are done or making decisions, a board of advisors…advises.

Whether your Middle Market company is privately owned and doesn’t want to establish a board of directors, or you already have one in place, a board of advisors could be immensely beneficial. For starters, having a trusted group of mentors and advisers to help answer and offer guidance could be the difference in allowing your company to flourish, change or advance.

Also, it could be the place you test-drive new ideas, get feedback about people, products, and processes or even be a place of innovation and undiscovered opportunities. Therefore, having a committed, outside perspectives with the singular goal of helping your organization improve is powerful indeed.

How To Create A Dynamic Board Of Advisors

As with anything you hope to implement for your Middle Market firm first, comes the questions and considerations.

Knowing what the board will be utilized for and what the expected outcomes are should help you determine a few key things:

⦁ Size of the board
⦁ Scope of advice
⦁ Who the board will advise or interact with
⦁ Target or focus
⦁ Style, frequency, and organization of meetings

When you have answered these questions, you might have a few names in mind. First of all, start by asking someone you or your leadership team know well and trust implicitly. You could ask for their advice on additional members or identify key players in your industry who would bring the ideal advice to the table.

Next, if your leadership team looks up to someone who has experienced the same growing pains, they would be a good target.

Obviously, diversity, honesty and the ability to give good advice are key components of who you choose. Then, if you get stuck, look to local and national organizations for your industry or niche. Also, ask your mentors who their mentors are – essentially network until you find your group.

Getting The Most From Your Board Of Advisors

At first, it might seem like you have many areas you need advice on, but it is still important to create and maintain a structure to ensure you see results from the meetings. Thus, you and your leadership teams will want to create the list of topics and update it as needed.

⦁ Well-defined meeting structure and agendas that are planned and shared in advance are key to keeping board meetings on task and productive.

⦁ Think about how long members will be on the board and if or how you’ll decide to add or replace members.

⦁ Consider how to quantify if the board is having “success” – are there metrics or ROI you’ll be looking for in order to know the board of advisors is making a difference or solving a problem?

Forming a board of advisors can be a productive and empowering step for your Middle Market organization. With preparation and an ideal for success in mind, you’ll be well on your way to advisory success.

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