BIZTIPS - March 28, 2004

Biz Tips: “Boards and Advisory Councils: Who needs 'em?"
March 28, 2004
By Art Hill

If you’re a business owner, YOU DO! Last time, we talked about the great examples sports offer business, especially teamwork. Even in individual sports such as golf, tennis and racing, athletes team up with trainers, coaches and managers to succeed.

Our Biz Tip was to meet the teams in your city, county, state and region that handle economic and work-force development.

Just like the “big guys,” you can benefit from the same expertise and public/private partnerships.

This week’s Biz Tip also is about teams and partners, but even closer to the core of your business. We’re talking about boards and advisory councils.

Corporations are required to have boards. They have fiduciary responsibility to stockholders for profitability and sound (and legal) management conduct. They hire and fire top company management. To stockholders, the board is where the “buck stops.”

But you say, “Whoa! I’m not a corporation. My business is privately owned. I’ve put every cent into it myself, and nobody is going to tell me how to run it.”

Agreed, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need fresh ideas or new ways of looking at your business.

That’s where an advisory board or council comes it. Pick five or seven (always odd in case of dispute) people whose advice you value— a retired business owner, a long-term customer, an attorney, a CPA, a key employee, a current or potential investor.

Ask them to get together periodically to look at your business inside and out. Have signed non-disclosure agreements and a written charter of Board responsibilities. Be completely open and honest with them about your finances, operations, and plans.

Just one good idea from each meeting can help you succeed or keep you from making an expensive mistake.

Content © 2004 East Oregonian