One of the toughest challenges of being an independent planner is the loneliness of the entrepreneur.
If you have just left a large organization to start your own business, you are faced with … yourself — no more colleagues around, no more “cooler talks,” and no more assistants to execute your instructions.
If you have been independent for a while, you know how to fulfill the jobs of CEO, Janitor, Director of Sales, Driver, Receptionist and CMO, all in one day!
In both cases, you are on your own! As exhilarating as it is, alone you can do nothing.
The solution to breaking the solitude of the entrepreneur: create your personal Advisory Board.
Define your objectives and expected outcomes
Why are you setting up this group? What do you plan to achieve?
Answering those two questions will guide your selection of advisors and will help you explain why you are reaching out to them.
Who should you include?
Between 10 to 15 people from various backgrounds is the ideal number.
You’ll always have “no-shows” because of scheduling conflicts. You’ll want diversity of thoughts. Make sure they cover all the areas in which you are the least experienced.
Most importantly: select people you trust and respect and who will be straightforward and honest with you.
Make a list of your preferred people, reach out to them, preferably face-to-face, and share with them why you’re setting up your personal Advisory Board.
How often should you run it?
Two to three times a year is ideal.
Keep in mind that you need to prepare each meeting, send invitations and create the agenda in advance, as well as take notes on their feedback and decide which actions you are going to take.
It is obviously extremely valuable, and it does take a lot of time, so be realistic and make sure that your personal Advisory Board is something you look forward to.
It should never feel like an obligation you have to deal with.
How long should it take?
Half a day should be sufficient to share your strategy, objectives, achievements and concerns while having enough time to listen to them.
When I started my agency, I would preferably hold the meeting at 3 pm and then finish with a nice meal afterward. Accordingly, my Advisors didn’t need to block a full day and would still be available during dinner for additional discussions.
Listen – Don’t defend yourself
Remember that, in the first place, you selected your Advisors because you trust them and you are seeking out their feedback. So, listen! Especially when the urge to defend yourself arises, listen!
This is a safe environment you have created for yourself. You want to be sure that everyone around the table will be willing to provide you feedback without having to enter into a discussion.
Everyone is here for you and wants you to succeed! If this is not the case, they simply shouldn’t be there!
Use an external facilitator
If you can, use an external facilitator who will run the meeting and the discussions. It’s more neutral, and you can focus even more on listening.
It can be somebody you hire specifically for your meeting, or it can also be one of your friends or non-competitor colleagues for whom you will also volunteer to facilitate their own Advisory Board.
Make sure they benefit as well
This is a personal Advisory Board. Traditionally, people do not get paid for it. They will volunteer their time for you.
Make sure they are also getting something out of it because of the other attendees, an external speaker you are inviting or a fantastic meal and/or unique experience you create for them after the meeting.
Creating my personal Advisory Board was one of the most effective ways I found to get feedback and advance my business.
I remember some of my friends telling me afterward that they were impressed that I would show my vulnerability. Well, the truth is, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room!” … and I was in the right room all along!
So, tell me in the comments below, when are you starting your personal Advisory Board?
If you have any questions, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.