How To Build a Team of Outside Experts for Your Business Bringing in outside directors, advisors, and professional services provides numerous benefits, including insights, guidance, and credibility.
- Why you should bring in outside consultants
- What to look for in a board of directors or board of advisors
- Who to bring into your company's orbit
This is part 8 / 8 of Write Your Business Plan: Section 3: Selling Your Product and Team series.
You've made strategic hires, filling critical positions in the company that will lead you to success. Now, it's time to consider going outside your office walls for insights and guidance in finance, operations, marketing, legal matters, or any other industry-specific knowledge. This expertise can be crucial in navigating the challenges that await you.
Related: Forming a Board of Advisors
Board of Directors
A board of directors gives you access to expertise, provided you choose them wisely. Technically, the officers of a corporation report to the board of directors, who bear the ultimate responsibility for the proper management of the company. Most boards will have financial, marketing, and organizational experts. Such a board lends great credibility to a company. Board members can provide more than oversight and sounding board skills; they also provide a wealth of contacts and referrals.
Board of Advisors
A board of advisors is a less formal entity. You can have the same kind of people on an advisory board, but you don't report to them, and they don't have the same power as a board of directors. Beware of creating a rubber-stamp board. You need the variety and breadth of experience and skills a board (of directors or advisors) brings to the table. Running a business is hard enough without adding an echo chamber. Your board should be able to challenge your thinking, help you solve knotty problems, and even change management if necessary.
Your board members and their reasons for being included should be a brief part of your longer business plan, not the mini-plan. .
Some of the most important people who'll do work for you won't work for you. Your attorney, accountant, and insurance broker are all crucial members of your team. A good professional in one of these slots can go a long way toward helping you succeed. The same may be true, to a lesser extent, for real estate brokers, management consultants, benefits consultants, computer consultants, trainers, and both creative and IT help.
Your business plan should reassure readers that your bases are covered in these critical professional positions. Readers don't necessarily want to see an attorney on staff. It's okay that you merely state that you retain the services of an attorney in private practice on an as-needed basis. Often, it's more prudent to show that you are not spending money on full-timers you don't need.
You don't need to name the firm you retain, although a prestigious name here may generate some reflected respect for you. For instance, if your firm is audited by a prominent firm instead of a local one-man accounting shop, then by all means, play it up. Few things are more comforting to an investor than knowing that an expert will monitor this investment's disbursement regularly and carefully.
Investors want profit. They don't just give money to people they like or admire. But it's also true that if they don't like, admire, or at least respect the people running your company, they're likely to look elsewhere. The management section of your plan is where you tell them about the human side of the equation. You can't control your readers' responses, but you owe it to them and yourself to provide the information.