Building a Team of Business Advisors That Aren’t on Payroll
When starting a company, the people you may rely on the most for advice are your family, friends, and business partners. Getting counsel from them is good because they might help you launch your business and run it for the first few months. But as your company grows, strive to build a team of advisors.
Having a team of trusted advisors will help you overcome hurdles and challenging times. It will also enable you to take your operation to the next level.
Businesses are complex in their very nature, and they require skills from different professions. To successfully run a company, you’ll need legal, financial, marketing, and technical expertise, to name a few. There’s a high chance you won’t be strong in all these fields. You don’t have to do everything alone.
Building a Team of Advisors to Get You to the Next Level
Let’s look at why you need a team of business advisors and how to build one. We will also go over the potential members to have on your advisory board.
Who is a Business Advisor?
A business advisor is a person you appoint to provide advice and counsel to you, your partners, and other leaders in your company. This individual usually has no legal authority to manage or make final decisions for your business. They simply act as an informal counsel to help you plan, strategize and conquer any situations that may come your way.
Building a good team of advisors takes time. Your goal should be to gather an advisory board where each member brings different knowledge and skills. The advisors you recruit at first may not all be a good fit, and that’s okay. You can switch them out with other members as you progress.
Why You Need a Team of Advisors
1. Get Answers Quick
One benefit that comes with having business advisors is you can call them anytime you need them. Whenever you encounter a challenge or situation, you’ll have somebody to help you overcome it right away. For example, assume you own a processing company. You may want to partner with suppliers in your region. An advisor whose expertise is in legal matters can counsel you on how to go about it.
2. Built-In Network
With a team of advisors, you’ll have a built-in network of people who can connect you to other individuals you may need in your business. They can introduce you to potential partners, investors, and other experts in your industry.
Having a board of advisors gives you and your business instant credibility. It may help you get funding and acquire business partnerships, among other things.
The main advantage of having a team of advisors is you get people who offer guidance and support in different aspects of your business. It increases your chances of success in running and growing your company.
Potential Team Members
When choosing your team of advisors, it’s important that you understand the knowledge and expertise that each member brings to the table. Strive to find people with a skill set that complements yours. For example, if you are good in marketing and accounting, find advisors in other fields such as business development, information technology, and human resources.
The number of advisors to recruit is up to you but aim to have one person for each field necessary in your business. Here is a list of the members to consider in your advisory team and their roles.
The first person that you should consider recruiting to your advisory team is a lawyer. Lawyers play a vital role in business, regardless of the industry. A good tip would be to go for a lawyer who specializes in corporate law.
A lawyer can help you address legal matters that you may or may not know existed. They can keep you out of trouble while ensuring you comply with the law. A lawyer may also help you with lawsuits that may come your way.
Here are other ways a lawyer can assist you:
- Reviewing client, partner, and employee contracts and agreements
- Acquisition and succession planning
- Shares and asset ownership
- Obtaining licenses and other regulatory procedures
An HR consultant can advise you on employee matters. They can provide counsel on how to interview employees to find the best talents. A consultant may also help you define employee roles and make structural changes as your business grows.
Other roles of an HR consultant include:
- Ensuring you comply with labor laws
- Provide support on training and motivating employees
- Help you assess employee performance
CPA or Financial Advisor
A certified public accountant will be the person you go to with all your financial matters. They can assist you with preparing financial reports, analyzing statements, and ensuring tax compliance. The CPA may also provide guidance when creating a financial plan and budget for the coming years.
Other ways the financial advisor can help you include:
- Projecting your business’s costs and earnings
- Assessing investment opportunities
- Bookkeeping and inventory management
A good relationship with a banker is key to accessing the funds needed to expand your business when an opportunity arises. The banker may assist you in filling out forms to seek loans and funding. They may also connect you to investors and funding opportunities.
A business strategist can help you stay on track and direct your business for optimal growth. They may assist you in formulating a plan or strategy to improve growth and profitability. They may also provide counsel to help you implement organizational change in your business.
Every business needs to create brand awareness and promote its products or services. A marketing specialist is an advisor you’ll go to for all your marketing decisions. You can ask the specialist to help you create strategies for customer retention or formulate and oversee your marketing objectives. You may be advised as to which marketing activities to take advantage of and which ones to avoid.
A marketing specialist can also work with you in analyzing your consumer conversion rate and costs per lead, among other matters.
In today’s fast-paced environment, technology is essential for growth and efficiency in running a business. An advisor who’s an IT professional can provide counsel on choosing the right hardware or software solutions. They may also assist you with identifying and implementing technology systems and infrastructure that your business needs. They can work with you in setting up accounting and payroll software and cloud storage applications.
App or Web Designer
If your business has an online presence, you may want to consider having an app or web designer in your advisory team. A designer can help you audit your website to assess if it’s serving the needs of your business. They may guide you on ways to improve user experience and check user analytics. The web designer is the person you’ll call when you have questions about SEO, hosting and domain, and your site’s mobile-friendliness.
If your business utilizes a visual marketing strategy, you may want to find an advisor who specializes in graphic design. A talented graphic designer can provide counsel on designing or redesigning the visual identity of your business. You can collaborate with them in creating logos, brochures, and posters for promotion purposes.
Risk and Compliance Consultants
A business looking to innovate, grow and expand into new markets will have to take risks at some point in its life cycle. This part is where a risk and compliance consultant can assist you. They can guide you on how to identify and manage risks in your business. Their counsel will help you make better decisions for growth and expansion.
Environmental Business Consultant
If you are in the manufacturing and processing industries, you may want to find an advisor who is also an environmental consultant. The advisor can offer counsel on creating a waste management policy and conducting environmental audits and assessments. They may also collaborate with you on:
- Dealing with environmental hazards
- Water, soil, and air assessment
- Creating sustainability and green solutions
- Ensuring compliance with environmental laws
Every business needs to make sales to grow and make profits. A sales consultant can guide you in planning and implementing your sales strategy. They can work with you in setting up KPIs for your sales department and monitoring competition.
Other ways that a sales consultant can help you include:
- Identifying bottlenecks in the sales process
- Creating strategies for customer retention and acquisition
- Training and motivating sales representatives
- Reviewing discounts, offers, and coupons to ensure they don’t hurt your business’s bottom line
Social Media Consultants
In this day and age, it is essential to ensure your business has a social media presence. But if you don’t know how to make the most of social networks, you may want to seek guidance from someone who does. A social media consultant can help you come up with a social media strategy. They may also guide you when creating and implementing social media campaigns, among other things.
How to Choose Team Members
Once you identify the advisory expertise your business needs, your next task will be to find advisors that are the best fit for your business. Take your time to build the right team. You don’t have to settle for the first expert you meet.
Before you recruit an advisor to your team, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- What expertise are they bringing to the team? Go for an advisor who’s an expert in one of the fields relevant to your business.
- Are they approachable, and do you enjoy talking to them? Find an advisor who you are comfortable talking to and asking questions. Select an advisor who shows a willingness to help you grow your business.
- Do they have any experience in your industry or business? Individuals who have some experience managing or advising a company like yours are a must. As you interview the advisors, you can ask them for references or check their online credentials.
- Are they trustworthy? Make sure your advisors are responsible and ethical. Go for someone genuinely interested in seeing you or your business succeed.
- Are you and the advisor like-minded? You’ll probably work best with people who share similar values and outlooks in life. A great way to evaluate an advisor’s like-mindedness is by assessing their risk threshold. Do they have the same appetite for risk as you, or are they risk-averse?
Here are a few other tips for choosing a business advisor:
Perform Your Due Diligence
Take your time to interview each potential advisor. It’s best to have a physical interview where you and the potential advisor can talk and get to know each other. Afterward, conduct a background check both online and offline from their references.
Think of Compensation
The compensation you offer the advisor depends on how much time they devote to helping you and the number of advisors you require. It also depends on whether your business can compensate the advisors or not.
In terms of compensation, it depends on your financial capability and the advisor’s expectations. Advisors that you offer equity should most likely be the ones staying with your business for a long time, for example, five to ten years.
Remember, your business advisors are not employees. They are here to help you strategize and grow your business, not to perform day-to-day activities. You don’t have to pay them a steady paycheck.
Set Terms of Communication
How often do you want to talk or meet with the advisor? Do you want to call them anytime you encounter a challenge, or are you okay having a meeting once a month? As you recruit your advisors, tell them how you’ll reach out to them and how often. You may also want to set term limits. For example, inform the advisor that you’d like their guidance and support for the next 12 months.
Business advisors can help you overcome challenges and situations that come your way as you manage your business. Building the right advisory team may take some time. But if you choose well, you will have advisors who can guide you in every aspect of your business.
When selecting your team, go for advisors who are not only experienced but also trustworthy and approachable. Remember to interview the advisor and assess their willingness to help you grow your business.
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