Let me tell you a brief story about an entrepreneur named Janine. She owns a highly successful athletic apparel business and faces a common issue that most small businesses experience when managing expansion — the business outgrows the founders. Janine’s background is in sports apparel design. So she realized early on that she needed outside brainpower to give her company the foundation and systems it needs to thrive.
Where did she find it? Through four types of advisory teams.
1. Professional advisory team.
From the outset, Janine secured a strong set of professional advisors she could reach out to when needed. These outside business advisors were (and continue to be) available to her on a consulting-type basis.
Her lawyer helped form the business entity, review contracts, and make sure her company website was legally compliant. Her accountant guided her tax-related decisions, and introduced her to the bookkeeper who kept their financial records as clean as a whistle. Janine’s insurance broker made sure that Janine and her company were protected from various claims.
2. Peer advisory team.
Janine had no prior experience running a small business. Although her professional acumen helped her manage risk, Janine also needed input that would encourage growth. As a result, she joined a mastermind group for business owners.
Her mastermind group convenes to help each of the members of the group. Ideally, the members make a regular time commitment (i.e. weekly or monthly). Group members also agree to be accountable to themselves and to the other mastermind members for the steps they promise to take to further their business from one meeting to the next.
However, in Janine’s experience, home-grown mastermind groups had difficulty sustaining the passion with which they started. She preferred the facilitation and structure that organizations like The Alternative Board and Vistage provided. But as with all peer advisory teams, there is that elusive element of “chemistry”—which, like the Goldilocks fable, needs to be “just right.”