Even Earth has a Board
I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t have an advisory board for their solo or small business and just don’t see the point in having one. They like to be in complete control (after all, who doesn’t?), but I know they’re missing out on so many of the benefits their larger Fortune 500 counterparts are getting by having boards.
In fact, corporate giants like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Bloomberg value advisory boards so much that they helped create one for Earth. That’s right, even our planet has a board.
Those bigwigs and other leading entrepreneurs from the US and abroad are on a board for the billion-dollar Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, which invests in companies that reduce greenhouse emissions. While your company’s mission may not be as lofty as providing clean energy for the whole planet, but it can still benefit from a board of advisors.
Expertise and Knowledge
Bill Gates gathered the brightest minds together with Breakthrough Energy Ventures so they could use their combined knowledge to solve Earth’s problems. That’s the heart of what any advisory board does. It uses its members’ skills and perspectives to advise and help a CEO. It serves as an instant sounding board to help you test ideas, look for solutions, and prevent problems.
An advisory board is not made up of employees, customers, or anyone with whom you might have conflicts. Its members are independent and have the sole goal of acting in the best interests of your business. Breakthrough Energy Ventures invests in technology that’s clean, sustainable, and better for the planet — focusing only on the best interests of Earth. Similarly, your board should offer solutions that aren’t tied to conflicting interests or personal investments.
Relying only on yourself or senior members of management to create a clear, strategic direction for your company is dangerous. Even without realizing it, your or their personal and professional interests can interfere with what is best for your business. An advisory board can help you create a long-term plan that can be monitored and implemented, just as Bill Gates and his team are hoping to make lasting changes in how energy is produced and used by every person on Earth.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures monitors the success of each of its investment, testing and refining its processes along the way. This type of accountability is often missing in many companies, and this void can be filled by an advisory board. By forcing your company to be accountable for each action and project, you’ll be more inclined to deliver and make good on promises. Reporting back to an advisory board will motivate you to accomplish goals faster and more efficiently.
Expand Your Network
By populating your advisory board with industry experts, you’ll gain access to their Rolodexes of thoughts leaders and difference makers. They can also provide access to organizations and groups that have the power to help you and your company grow. Plus, having respected leaders associated with your business helps improve your credibility and reputation.
The strategic value of an advisory board can’t be underestimated — just ask Planet Earth.