Why Your Small Business Needs an Advisory Board In Your First 3 Months
When you're getting your business off the ground, it's overwhelming. Am I right? You've got to pick between LLC or incorporating. You have to line up your taxes, your accounting, your business license, your insurance, your contracts and agreements. So. Much. Stuff. It's no wonder that things like an advisory board can quickly drop to the bottom of your to-do list.
By the way – When I say advisory board, I'm not referring to the legalese of people financially invested in your company. For the sake of this conversation, you can think of this advisory board as a group of mentors that you hand-select.
When you're in the midst of the grind, it's the pressing matters that get prioritized. But be sure to keep an advisory board on your radar. It will ensure that the longevity of your company long after you've filed all that crazy paperwork. Here's why you need to invest time and energy into building your advisory board in the first three months of starting your company.
You need to build good habits
It may feel like no big deal today. But the small decisions you make day-in and day-out about your business are forming a set of habits that you'll likely repeat as your business grows. Are your currently prioritizing important things or urgent things? Are you so focused on the present moment that you're not able to build for the future? One of the reasons to build your advisory board early is to start building habits that will help your business grow with your goals in mind. By seeking out successful people to learn from, you can incorporate their habits into your business. Don't copycat anyone but soak up their wisdom. Learn what works for them and then make it your own. Start your good habits now, folks.
You need someone to see your blindspots
When you're starting your business, it's your baby. No one can call it ugly to your face unless you give them permission. Don't be a founder or owner that is so fixated on an idea that you forget to check-in with reality from time to time. By having a well-rounded board of advisors you have people that will be in a position to call you on your blindspots. Better them than a customer, right? Plus, you want to address problems when they're small and easy to fix. This is another reason I suggest building your board within the first 3 months of starting your new gig.
You need subject matter experts
You may be the world's best graphic designer. But do you know how to claim the right expenses on your businesses taxes? Do you know what legalese to put on your site to protect you from a lawsuit? Do you know how to structure your portfolio to tell a meaningful story? While being a business owner inherently means you'll need to take on a ton of extra roles and tasks, be smart about it. Outsource help when you need it. Focus on what you're good at and call in the subject matter experts for the rest. The bonus of having these people on your board is that you may be able to exchanges services (a.k.a. save money as you're getting started). Maybe that lawyer friend of yours needs a new logo. Maybe your friend who's a CPA could use a website refresh. Be sure to give your board members the benefit of your expertise too.
You need to build community
Starting a business can be a lonely climb. By building an advisory board, you'll have someone to reach out to on the days you want to quit. Because those days will come. But if you build a community to remind you why you started, it'll be that much easier to stay focused on your mission. Make sure you return the favor and encourage your mentors in their efforts too. Even the most successful folks have hard days.
Here are three initial questions to start the conversation with your potential board members:
Do you have 2-4 hours a month to invest in mentoring me as a business owner?
Are you willing to give constructive and honest feedback?
How can I contribute to what you're working on?