StartUp and ScaleUp: take an Advisory Board!

Michel StuijtMoments of truth, Moments of truthLeave a Comment

What if the kick-and-rush of a StartUup diminishes? What if the euphoria of starting a business turns into doubt or panic? A ScaleUp with growth trouwbles?

What if you reach a point with your company that you have not yet thought about: your company is successful and now you need to expand?

The independant Advisory Board

Entrepreneurs regularly need a conversation with a trusted advisor. But not the advisor such as the accountant, bookkeeper, lawyer or banker. You want to discuss your growth plans, your long-term vision and strategy or succession with the independent consultant.

Usually, these types of conversations are incident-driven and therefore only take place (too) late. It is therefore useful to set up an Advisory Board in order to give the conversations with a confidential adviser more structure. This Board can help you with matters of strategic importance. Due to the independent view and timely input of valuable knowledge and experience of the members.

When it meets regularly, the Board can make an indirect contribution to the successful functioning of your company. In addition to advice on how best to achieve your short-term objectives, the Board offers the opportunity to structure and define a long-term strategy.

Many entrepreneurs do not see the usefulness and necessity of an Advisory Board, while it has been proven that you can achieve more with such a Board. The independent members, if properly selected, are ‘expert door openers’ who can give you honest advice on the functioning and progress of your company.

To see whether a Board is the right step for your company, first make an overview of the various issues that play a role in your company and in which you would rather not involve your existing advisors. Based on that list, you can then formulate the objectives of the Board. Furthermore, a list helps to make the intensity / periodicity of meetings and other contact moments more concrete. The list is also a tool to formulate the required competences and the level of experience of the members of the Board: who / what is needed?

How big should an Advisory Board be? Sometimes a single person is sufficient first, later expanding to the ideal number. A three-member Board is often sufficient. This allows for different input of viewpoints and variety in knowledge, experience and network.

What should you NOT do? Establish a Board of like-minded persons. Then the members have a lot of knowledge of and experience with the same topics compared to the entrepreneur. Then you only surround yourself with yes-marbles and the conversation is about joint (technically) detailed topics that have little to do with the core of the matter. Therefore, especially look at people with expert knowledge of which you do not have enough knowledge and topics that you find difficult.

You must also ensure that the Board is not used to settle financing issues or resolve legal issues. Use specialists for these matters. Ensure that the Board is independent and remains businesslike: preferably do not involve family, friends or acquaintances.

When seeking support from the Board, focus on issues such as:

  • Advice and guidance with your (long-term) business plan;
  • Taking a critical look at your company;
  • Helping with (re-) formulating and realizing the objectives;
  • Helping to expand your business network;
  • To inspire you and hold up a mirror: “Are you taking the right actions to ensure that my company functions optimally?”;
  • Providing relevant expertise and experience.

Good luck!

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