Even the guy with “Lone” in his name had a confidant. Regardless of whether your business is classified as a sole proprietorship or not, there is no reason to go it alone. Let’s go back to the topic of advisors for a minute. Yes, you need them for growth of any kind. They keep you balanced and offer different perspectives.

Creating an Advisory Board of educators, mentors, and friends –formally or informally—will help you with your operations and decision making. What kind of people should be on your board? Caring, but candid; Informed, but open to new ideas. They should represent areas of expertise to supplement yours (both inside and outside your industry), so they could tell you what you need to know. The more informed you are, the less likely you’ll be blindsided by something you didn’t foresee. As I said in Climb: Leading Women in Technology Share Their Journeys To Success, the message is simple: no one succeeds alone. Surround yourself with strong people; True mentors and friends challenge you. They lead you to surprising opportunities that can magnify your efforts. They point out things you don’t want to hear but need to hear.

Here’s who should not be on your board:

  • Competitors who don’t have your best interests in mind.
  • People who don’t support your original mission or are only involved for their personal gain.
  • Negative people who bring down your energy levels and negate your accomplishments.
  • Your mother. Really. Unless your mother has experience in your industry or another function that is vital to your organization, she should not be involved. The same goes for your father or other family member. They should not be involved in your business unless they have specific expertise which benefits you. Otherwise, you’ll bring family drama into a business where it doesn’t belong.
  • Your best friend (see previous bullet).

My advisors are there to offer rational suggestions and dialogue for ideas and situations that are both stimulating and challenging to me. My Advisory Board is informal, based on need. I rarely assembled them together, but instead initiate separate conversations on topics of their expertise period of course, I engage them in major decisions.  Members on my advisory boards have included former academic advisors, publishing colleagues, a serial entrepreneur, my husband (where he did have expertise), etc.

Your Turn

Who would you like to be on your Advisory Board? What expertise do you need but don’t have?

We’d love to hear your comments.