Cerius Business Today – Building an Advisory Board

Cerius Business Today – Building an Advisory Board

In this episode of Cerius Business Today, Pam and Kristen talk about building an advisory board. How they can help your business grow and where to start.

Kristin:             Oh you mean the thought of having a board advisor and someone telling me what to do and I’ve got to listen to that. Because if you’re paying money to have someone give you advice, you do need to be open to that advice.

Pam:                You mean you got to listen to them?

Kristin:             You got to listen. And it’s hard enough for me listening to you and having you tell me what to do as my business partner.

Pam:                Hey, hey, hey

Kristin:             So the thought of now having advisors telling me what to do? It’s a little tough. And it is challenging.  But we do have a couple of amazing advisors that we have actually grown organically. I know that we need others. I know that we need to round them out. So why don’t we do this. I have a proposal.

Pam:                I pity anybody that comes on our advisory board.

Kristin:             OK, so that’s the other thing. Finding someone who can deal with us. Not only do we need the expertise, we need certain background  and experience, we need someone who can actually put up with us. Not an easy… Yep, Pam’s thumbs up nodding. Yes, we’re not easy. No question about it. We’re the typical entrepreneur and there’s two of us so someone’s got to be able to understand two different personalities, play the… understand our different roles and deal with it.

Pam:                I can’t even in good conscience say speak for yourself because I know she’s talking about both of us.

Kristin:             Truly both of us. We hear it. Our Chief People Officer tells us all the time. It is no secret. So let’s find two things that we can agree on today.  What are the first two things that we need to agree on, and lets start there and just start making the plan to come up with ‘what’s the expertise? What gaps do we have?’ What are the top two things you’d say that we need to identify first?

Pam:                Ok first of all, we need to decide on the number. We need to decide how many people. Now let me tell you why.

Kristin:             Yeah, I’m already saying, but how do I know how many until we identify the gaps?

Pam:                I know I know, but just bear with me. So the one that goes hand, the other piece that goes hand-in-hand with that is we are our weaknesses where we see where we can expand, or we see where we can bring more knowledge in that area. So, I think those hand-in-hand… We could sit there and say, “Well I got ten areas that we want to shore up for the year, well I’m not going to bring ten of these advisory board members.” So I’m thinking what is the max? So let’s prioritize on these things we want to bring in because we do have a weakness in it or we want to again expand our knowledge base on. So let’s just put a maximum number on it.

Kristin:             Alright so maximum number. Why not go from another standpoint of where do we want to go  for the next year? What are some challenges that we’re seeing in front of us? And let’s find some individuals who have been through those challenges before, and can give us advice on that. What’s the pros and cons of the different techniques?

Pam:                Perfect. That kind of where I was going on the other piece of what they can bring to the company. But yeah, absolutely. Because there are some things that we don’t necessarily have the expertise on. That we don’t really need to bring in an employee or even a contractor. We just need advice on. We don’t need them to actually implement because we can implement. But we do need somebody that could help us strategize.

Kristin:             No long-term commitment. We’re not looking at these individuals for the next 3-5 years.  It could be a couple of months, it could be a year, depends on how solid their advice is, how much they have to offer, and how much we enjoy the conversations with them.

Pam:                So if we don’t like what they say they are out.

Kristin:             And that’s why we agreed to use our own virtual advisory board service so we get to talk to a number of individuals on a couple of different conversations, in order to start narrowing it down. So one, number. What’s the max number of advice that we can handle at one time or maximum number of individuals who can handle us. Which way is it?

Pam:                It’s the other way around. Who can put up with us?

Kristin:             I don’t see anyone raising their hand right now. OK so, and kind of a combination of let’s start. So why don’t you list out your… why don’t you go with your list of where you see our weaknesses, and our upcoming challenges. I’ll do my list. Next session we’ll compare notes and come up with a skills list of what we’re looking for, to identify those. Because my biggest fear… you know, you and I love meeting people. And we meet some amazing people that we think ‘Oh, they can help us and they’re wonderful and have done amazing things!’ But they’re not really the right person for us now. Do you agree?

Pam:                Yes, yes I totally agree with that.

Kristin:             This is a… this is an audio so when you’re nodding your head, Pam, I need a yes or a no.

Pam:                OK do I have to say it again? I totally agree.

Kristin:             You got that right? You do agree with me. OK, and we have this as a recording. We’re going to have a transcript.

Pam:                Oh gosh, can I change my mind tomorrow?

Kristin:             You know the great thing about this is we have meeting notes, we don’t have to take notes, we don’t have to have a transcriptionist, we’ve got it all recorded. Right, so let’s work on our weaknesses, our challenges. Let’s see where we agree, where we don’t agree, and we can certainly have that debate in our next session.

Pam:                Boy, got the first step out of the way.

Kristin:             So, when you’re hesitating, when you’re procrastinating, you know you need to go somewhere but you keep putting it off, don’t feel the need to just jump in. Let’s go with our strategy. Let’s plan our planning session.

Pam:                Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps.

Kristin:             Baby steps because you know how I feel about advisory and someone else telling me what to do. But we want to grow this. We know how big it can be. We’ve got so much growth going on right now. We have a number of key positions we’re hiring for. I know we need it. Because I don’t know what I don’t know right now. But I think you made a great point, it’s a matter of where our priorities are, and not trying to cast too wide of a net and getting one or two individuals that can help us in all areas.

Pam:                Yeah, Kristin wouldn’t it be really cool if we could bring somebody in on an advisory board that has been there done that. They’ve taken companies and ramped it up and sold them. You know somebody who really knows what they’re doing in this area, and he or she comes in and they go “Well who cares whether you’re going to do double or triple the share. You could be doing much more by doing blank blank blank.” Wouldn’t that be cool?

Kristin:             Yeah sure, I already don’t sleep at night. Yeah sure we can do so much more than doubling or tripling our company this year. Are you trying to scare the living daylights out of me Pam?

Pam:                Well, I’m all in favor of this advisory board now.

Kristin:             Great. Alright we have our action items. We have our to-do lists. So until next time, let’s get thinking.

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