A great advisory board should be made up of crazy creatives, youth and especially women

Business groupby Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

Most business people know a board of directors is important. What many don’t realize is small business also need a board of advisors, even more so than large corporations. Because of the limited resources and internal expertise, small business would benefit greatly from the added mind power. I’m sure, many won’t disagree with this concept. What I do find troubling is when business owners start putting their board together, often they try to gather people who are in the industry or have “done it before” in their category. It’s good to tap into others who have been in your industry, but the problem is, when you look at their advisors, they are almost totally made up of industry insiders. That’s dangerous for a couple of reasons.

• In-breeding produces no new ideas – Because they’ve done it before, many of these advisors will tell you how they did it in the past. The blind spot is they don’t think about new ways of marketing, branding and doing business. The world markets have changed drastically over the last 10 years and continues to do so. Yes, you can learn from the past, but fresh and bold thinking is needed to succeed in today’s market place.

• No customer representation – By having your advisor board made up of mostly industry people, you don’t get a clear view of your customer. Wouldn’t you find it valuable if you had a room full of customers you can bounce ideas off of and talk openly with? I know I would.

In my opinion, this is how you should make up your advisor board:

• Reflect your market place – If you sell to women, shouldn’t your advisors be made up of  mostly women? Your board should reflect the market place to whom you are selling to. Does this reek of quotas? Probably, but it makes business sense. In most cases, B2B and B2C purchase decisions are made by women (86%), but many advisory boards are mostly made up of men. By loading up on the wrong people, you will get wrong advice. Same goes for youth and minorities.

• Create a crazy board – These are crazy times and it calls for crazy approaches (so to speak). If you want innovative approaches, out-of-the-box thinking, then get creative, weird people on your board. Because youth naturally get technology, it stands to reason you need a few people under 25 on your board. A dull board creates a dull business. A cool board creates a cool business. My advice, load up on the creative types. The most common mistake is to overload  your board with “experienced”, older people. Too often, these types are too conservative and are looking for sure bets. There are no sure bets these days, so you end up with a board who is paralyzed instead of inspiring.

Of course, you need one or two industry insiders and numbers people, but too often, most advisory boards are made up of only these. There is a great lack of creative, crazy types, youth and especially women. It’s difficult to get an accountant to be innovative.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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