Most organizations have a board of directors to provide governance, but an advisory board is optional and members have less liability, so they can more readily offer advice. These boards serve different purposes, but both can also propel a company to success. A well-curated board of experienced members can fill in all of the areas where your company needs expertise. When properly chosen, a board can drive more growth.
Ask board members to take an active role in maximizing innovation.
No matter the field, innovation is king. But with the speed of technology today, boards can (and advisory boards should) step in to actively help a company keep up with the times and stay on top of an industry. Members experienced in technology can help stay current with new products and implement relevant add-ons where they can improve processes and allow the company to scale. Beyond technology, board members can implement innovative business models and strategies. Innovation large and small can contribute to a company’s advantage, so think of including expertise in relevant areas—like shipping, logistics or automation—on your board.
If your company isn’t staying on top of its field, another company will—especially in the world of startups. Most startups exist because they took a current company model and innovated off of it, disrupting something that’s been done for years in a specific way. Companies that feel uncomfortable with change haven’t stayed on top of the market well enough to anticipate and exploit that trend first. A new company comes onto the scene and blows it up because they found a newer, cheaper or faster way to get something done. Especially for startups, experienced board members can maximize this innovation.
Look for board members with strategic growth experience.
Bring on board members who have “been there, done that.” Strategic growth is one of the most important areas of governance for boards. The more experience on a board, the more efficient you are at developing tried and tested growth strategies. Figuring out how much to grow each year comes with a lot of learning through trial and error, but a company that has the advice of an experienced board can bypass that. Members with experience down certain paths can guide a company to anticipate and avoid known obstacles, helping to accomplish goals faster.
Especially for startups, having access to board members who have been through growth can provide crucial guidance in driving their success. When launching a new product for the first time, a lot of strategy needs to go into the process of rolling that product out for it to reach its maximum potential. Failing to address any holes in the strategy could result in a total flop, but with more minds strategizing, those holes are much more likely to be addressed. Instead of having to test things out with your company and hitting speed bumps along the way, you can drive around them with members who know an effective detour.
Lean on your board’s networks.
Your startup might have the best idea in the world, but if no one in your industry has ever heard of you, it can be hard to get the funding you need to grow. A carefully curated board will, by extension, bring their networks that can benefit a company. Small businesses especially can benefit from board members with relevant connections in their network to call on for additional support as they grow.
Forming a board relationship with a well-known name in an industry can bring more than access to capital. It can provide an outlet for sourcing quality employees and an authority that draws important partnerships that accelerates company growth. Well-known and well-branded board members legitimatize a company and establish its credibility, drawing great investments and helping to recruit top talent excited to work with a big industry name.
Curate a diverse and disciplined board.
Board members should bring discipline, specifically operating discipline. Bringing on a board member with experience as a CFO, for example, could provide greater financial insights. When you curate a diverse board with experience across industries and focuses, you can fill in the gaps of your company’s expertise and position it for greater growth and success.
CEOs and company executives should use their boards, especially their board of advisors, as mentors and masterminds. A good board provides you with a strong and experienced level of mentorship to fall back on whenever you need them. They exist to help you grow your company, so pick their brains for valuable insights and do it all the time.
A board of experienced members can be the difference between success and stagnation for your company. With a diverse collection of experience on your board, you have access to their advice and broad networks to get your company through difficult times and help make challenging decisions. When you have a board of experts to lean on for support, they help you grow your company faster and more effectively.