A Typical Board Meeting

 

Our primary offering at TAB is a monthly board meeting of fellow, non-competing business owners. But what is it exactly that happens at a board meeting? We’re here to answer that question for you.

Meetings will vary depending on the facilitator who’s running them, but there are some pretty standard aspects you can always expect to find.

We recommend hosting the meeting at the beginning of the day. If you wait until the afternoon, members might not be able to get away from their business to attend.

Every board meeting lasts 4 hours, and that time can be divvied up in many ways. The most important part is that each member of the board has a designated amount of time to discuss an issue they’re facing in their business.

After they present their challenge or opportunity, the facilitator will ask the other members to ask clarification questions. And then the board will give their strategies and opinions on how to handle that particular situation.

It’s been known to happen that members are able to resolve their issue simply from these questions. They just weren’t asking themselves the right questions.

Many times, this process provides value to the member who has the problem and the other members as well. They may have a similar problem they’re going through or will have happen in the future, and they’re able to utilise the advice given by the board.

Once the other members have given their advice, the facilitator will typically ask which solution or part of the solution the member wants to implement in the next four weeks. Their particular problem may take longer than a month to resolve, but it’s important they commit to beginning the solution process.

Many facilitators will then go into detail with their challenge in their individual coaching sessions with the member.

After everyone has presented, facilitators will ask each member to share their most important takeaway. This really helps each member see the value they’re getting from the board meetings.

Along with receiving advice from fellow business owners, it’s also common to have guest speakers who can discuss specific topics the board may be interested in or need extra help with.

The speaker may present for 30 minutes and then allow for a 30-minute Q&A session.

While every facilitator has his or her own approach to running a board meeting, the bottom line is the same: Every member gets value out of it. They’re able to get the help they need from other business owners who’ve been in their shoes.

Learn more about TAB boards or find a board in your area.

 

What is a Business Advisory Board and why do you need one?

business advisory board

The Alternative Board offers peer advisory services to entrepreneurs in every step of their career. While many business owners approach TAB with an interest in business mentorship, they don’t always recognise the advantages of an advisory board over other forms of business coaching services. That’s because advisory boards have only recently become available to small business owners, and the external advisory board is a relatively new concept.

While you’ve probably heard of an advisory board, there’s a good chance you may not know the specifics of how it works or why your business could benefit from one. Regardless of if you’ve just started your business or if you’ve been at the helm for a while, an advisory board can help you optimise your business and help you find growth where previously none existed. Interested in how an advisory board can help you? Here is a breakdown of the what, when, where, and why of business advisory.

business advisory boardWhat is a business advisory board?

Traditionally, a business advisory board is made up of a group of individuals who convene regularly to assist a business owner in making executive decisions. As business owners typically only have one area of expertise, it’s advantageous for them to surround themselves with experts in different elements of running a business, from sales executives to marketing geniuses and accountants who have had experience managing the finances of businesses.

While the advisors exist to guide the business owner, they generally don’t have authority on final decisions. Executives from your staff can be beneficial in your advisory board, but other successful entrepreneurs from varying industries can provide a wider range of perspective.

When are business advisory board meetings held?

There is no right or wrong answer to when you lead your advisory board, but it’s important that advisors and members attend regularly. You can hold a weekly meet up or convene every few months. With that said, regularly scheduled meetings provide accountability and can often answer questions you didn’t even know you had. They also allow you to learn from the tribulations of other business owners, even when your company is doing well.

Where are business advisory board meetings held?

Locally is best, but you do have other options. You can occasionally schedule your advisory board sessions as retreats or hold sessions online. While no form of communication is more effective than face-to-face, web conferencing can dramatically cut meeting times, allowing you to catch up more regularly. Likewise, it isn’t necessary to have every advisor present at every session. In fact, when facing very specific decisions, it may be beneficial to meet with your designated advisor in that field.

Why do you need a business advisory board?

The answer to this question is more complex because there are countless different occasions in which an advisory board can be beneficial to a business owner. Not to mention, the reasons you need an advisory board are likely to change throughout the course of your career. While there’s no exact answer to why you need a business advisory board, here are some common obstacles that are better faced with a second set of eyes:

  1. You’re running your business smoothly, but you don’t know where it’s going. business advisory boardAccording to The Alternative Board’s 2013 Small Business Pulse survey, 91% of business owners could see higher revenue using a strategic plan. Without a long term strategy, you’re spending more time in your day to day operations than on moving your business forward.“The most recent survey results validate our long-held belief, based on over two decades of working with thousands of small and medium sized business owners, that having a strategic plan to guide their business is critical to achieving success,” says TAB Vice President David Scarola. “It’s in the business owner’s best interest to have a good plan that is reviewed regularly.” An advisory board can help you create a plan, allowing you to see where your business is headed in the future.
  2. You know where your business is going, but you don’t know how to get there. While it’s easy to recognise what you want to achieve, it’s harder to identify the specific steps you need to get there over the next 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, or beyond. A business advisory board is invaluable in helping you develop a long term strategy. With advisors in a variety of fields on your board, each member is able to share their expert pathway, allowing you to take advantage of their experiences.For example, if your goal is to move a certain amount of product in 3 years, your sales and marketing advisors will provide the blueprint for attracting and increasing customers/clients. With that strategy in place, your HR advisor can suggest a growth plan for meeting your new capacity requirements while still increasing profits.
  3. You feel like you’re missing opportunities.Do you ever get the feeling that your business could be running more efficiently or there’s more you could be doing for it? Let’s face it, even the absolute best entrepreneurs aren’t experts at everything — in fact, a mark of a good business owner is knowing what skills you need to augment with the talents of others.You might be an expert when it comes to finances, but the idea of content marketing makes you want to take a nap. Or perhaps you can close any deal, but you have a hard time identifying the best candidate for the job. With a team of advisors with expertise in areas you lack, you have just the right person to assess your strategy in every department. By breaking down your company’s processes and identifying any questions you may have, they are able to identify gaps and point out room for improvement or growth.
  4. Your business isn’t growing because your network isn’t. A successful business is socially driven. It builds on a growing network of people, from customers to partners and everything in between. Your business network is multiplied with each additional member on your advisory board. They can introduce you to key partners, new customers, and even potential employees.
  5. You’ve made costly mistakes. Every business owner makes mistakes. It’s an inevitable fact about entrepreneurship. Fortunately, many of these mistakes are common among entrepreneurs, and by working with more seasoned business owners, you can avoid the ones they’ve already gone through. A board of advisors puts you in a room with a group of professionals, each with their own mistakes to learn from.
    business advisory board
  6. You feel like you’re operating in a bubble.
    Even though business owners are in constant contact with a wide variety of people, business ownership can feel like a lonely endeavour. Often times, business owners have a hard time relating their hardships to family and friends. The only other people they encounter on a regular basis are employees, vendors, and customers – with whom they must maintain a confident demeanour at all times.A board of advisors makes it easier to work through challenges by talking them out. You will be surrounded by people who are genuinely interested in your work and have experienced similar struggles first hand.
  7. You’re thinking inside the box. What do a marketer, an HR specialist, and a lawyer have in common? The years of experience and industry insight to help you streamline processes and enjoy your personal vision of success. With a group of diverse thinkers, you are able to expand your way of thinking beyond your wheelhouse and discover innovative solutions to everyday business challenges.
  8. You have great ideas, but you have trouble sticking with them.Not only does an advisory board hold you accountable to acting on your ideas and achieving your goals, but it helps you decide whether certain goals are worth pursuing or not. Oftentimes, business owners will have unreasonable expectations for their business, because they don’t fully understand the steps that are needed to achieve those goals. An advisory board can analyse what you want and put it into a realistic perspective.

According to The Alternative Board’s Founder and Executive Chairman Allen Fishman, advisory boards are indispensable, not only to large corporations but to small business owners as well. “In 1990, I identified what seemed to me to be the greatest need of small-business owners: the need for peer advice from fellow business owners and coaching from experienced professionals who were armed with a process to achieve greater personal and business success,” says Fishman.

To bring the power of advisory boards to small business owners, Fishman opened his first TAB advisory board in 1990. 27 years later, TAB is a global franchise serving over 16 countries and 25,000 business owners worldwide. By providing small business owners with the power of peer advisory, “TAB is making a difference in the lives of thousands of business owners around the world.” If you’re interested in discovering how TAB Board membership can help you achieve your personal vision of success, click here to learn more.

 

Learning to Coach and Mentor Can Make you a Better Leader

Kitchen-table-mtg-e1486063175932

Chances are, most successful individuals have benefited from being mentored by a CEO, owner or another business leader at some time in their professional career. If you’re among this group, you’ll likely remember how valuable the experience proved to be. I certainly was one of the lucky ones in my career to have a wonderful expert trained coach, Michael Lowey.

Generally speaking, mentors work with talented employees because of a sincere desire to see them succeed. “The goal isn’t to master a particular skill, reach a specific goal, or bolster the company’s knowledge base,” notes marketing expert Jodie Shaw. “Although it can involve tasks and timelines, it’s really about helping the mentee grow and develop as a professional over his or her career.”

What about the benefits inherent in being a mentor?

Taking on the role and responsibilities of mentoring may seem time-consuming and lacking in any clear ROI for the business leader involved. But this is a narrow interpretation of what becoming a mentor actually means. In fact, sharing your wisdom and experience can prove to be immensely helpful and satisfying to the person in this role. Here’s a brief look at some of the benefits involved:

Mentoring requires that you stay up-to-date on industry trends. The skills and knowledge that enabled you to achieve leadership status can sometimes get stuck in place. Market conditions change. Industry trends come and go. Becoming a mentor means you need to reaffirm an interest in the most up-to-date events in your field, so you’re not dispensing inaccurate or unhelpful advice to the mentee. As a result, you supplement your own knowledge and experience at the same time.

In some cases, you may be mentoring an individual who has attended industry-related academic courses and/or gathered more recent with changing industry trends. In the course of your mentoring sessions, it’s probable they’ll share with you the latest developments in the field, so you’ll benefit from the exchange of views, too. TAB Coaches find that unlike most businesses where you learn a lot about a little, or a little about a lot, as a TAB coach, you learn a lot about alot!.

You’ll see your leadership skills enhanced. As a mentor, you may find yourself expressing views and insights in ways that might surprise you. During your mentoring sessions, “you have the chance to reflect on and articulate your own expertise and experience—something you probably don’t take the time to do otherwise,” notes business author E. Wayne Hart.

Also, Hart adds, mentoring may help you “view the organisation with a fresh eye towards its functions, politics and culture.” Such insights may prove very useful in devising new strategies to change the workplace culture for the better.

You will also force yourself to re-frame past experiences with the wisdom of time on your side.  I find that when we teach our members the skills of coaching, that they find new ways of developing their teams. They have recognised that merely applying more pressure does not work, as the blockages towards progress often lies in the minds of their executives.

Expand your professional network. A successful relationship with a mentee generally results in a broadening of the mentor’s own professional network. For one thing, if the person you mentor goes on to become a leader in his or her own right, you’ll have a valuable, high-level (and likely very grateful) contact that might result in more business for your organisation.

Yes, mentoring and coaching requires time and occasionally some added patience, as the person you mentor struggles with his or her personal and/or professional challenges. But the benefits you receive as the mentor—personal satisfaction, greater industry credibility, an enhanced ability to listen closely—far outweigh those disadvantages.

A CEO peer advisory board is another way of learning how to become a better mentor and coach from the experience you get in practice and to learn from professional coaches who share their skills. Contact your TAB Strategic Business Coach today  to learn more about membership.

PJ Timmins

 

Learning to Coach and Mentor Can Make You a Better Leader

Kitchen-table-mtg-e1486063175932

Chances are, most successful individuals have benefited from being mentored by a CEO, owner or another business leader at some time in their professional career. If you’re among this group, you’ll likely remember how valuable the experience proved to be. I certainly was one of the lucky ones in my career to have a wonderful expert trained coach, Michael Lowey.

Generally speaking, mentors work with talented employees because of a sincere desire to see them succeed. “The goal isn’t to master a particular skill, reach a specific goal, or bolster the company’s knowledge base,” notes marketing expert Jodie Shaw. “Although it can involve tasks and timelines, it’s really about helping the mentee grow and develop as a professional over his or her career.”

What about the benefits inherent in being a mentor?

Taking on the role and responsibilities of mentoring may seem time-consuming and lacking in any clear ROI for the business leader involved. But this is a narrow interpretation of what becoming a mentor actually means. In fact, sharing your wisdom and experience can prove to be immensely helpful and satisfying to the person in this role. Here’s a brief look at some of the benefits involved:

Mentoring requires that you stay up-to-date on industry trends. The skills and knowledge that enabled you to achieve leadership status can sometimes get stuck in place. Market conditions change. Industry trends come and go. Becoming a mentor means you need to reaffirm an interest in the most up-to-date events in your field, so you’re not dispensing inaccurate or unhelpful advice to the mentee. As a result, you supplement your own knowledge and experience at the same time.

In some cases, you may be mentoring an individual who has attended industry-related academic courses and/or gathered more recent with changing industry trends. In the course of your mentoring sessions, it’s probable they’ll share with you the latest developments in the field, so you’ll benefit from the exchange of views, too. TAB Coaches find that unlike most businesses where you learn a lot about a little, or a little about a lot, as a TAB coach, you learn a lot about alot!.

You’ll see your leadership skills enhanced. As a mentor, you may find yourself expressing views and insights in ways that might surprise you. During your mentoring sessions, “you have the chance to reflect on and articulate your own expertise and experience—something you probably don’t take the time to do otherwise,” notes business author E. Wayne Hart.

Also, Hart adds, mentoring may help you “view the organisation with a fresh eye towards its functions, politics and culture.” Such insights may prove very useful in devising new strategies to change the workplace culture for the better.

You will also force yourself to re-frame past experiences with the wisdom of time on your side.  I find that when we teach our members the skills of coaching, that they find new ways of developing their teams. They have recognised that merely applying more pressure does not work, as the blockages towards progress often lies in the minds of their executives.

Expand your professional network. A successful relationship with a mentee generally results in a broadening of the mentor’s own professional network. For one thing, if the person you mentor goes on to become a leader in his or her own right, you’ll have a valuable, high-level (and likely very grateful) contact that might result in more business for your organisation.

Yes, mentoring and coaching requires time and occasionally some added patience, as the person you mentor struggles with his or her personal and/or professional challenges. But the benefits you receive as the mentor—personal satisfaction, greater industry credibility, an enhanced ability to listen closely—far outweigh those disadvantages.

A CEO peer advisory board is another way of learning how to become a better mentor and coach from the experience you get in practice and to learn from professional coaches who share their skills. Contact your TAB Strategic Business Coach today  to learn more about membership.

PJ Timmins

 

4 Common Misconceptions About Peer Advisory Boards

Where do you turn when you need advice on what car to buy or what vacation getaway to book? Probably your friends, family and work colleagues. Why? Because you know they have tried different options and you value their advice on what is best…and what to avoid.

So why don’t you take advantage of peer advice in your business decisions?  I understand your resistance. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about peer advisory boards, so let’s dispel a few!

#1. Peer advisory boards are for struggling businesses.

This could not be further from the truth.

Sure, your peer board can—and will—help with issues and struggles your business may be experiencing. Far more importantly; however, is that peer boards are looking for members who are experienced with running successful businesses and want to share that experience with others.

Large corporations have a Board of Directors. Do you think they only meet when the company is doing poorly? No! They meet on a regular bases to plan and advise on the strategic direction of a company. Peer advisory boards bring this strategic thinking to typically smaller, privately-owned businesses.

Any business owner who sees the great potential in their business and is seeking collective wisdom to help get them there is a great fit for a peer board.

#2. I‘ve seen it all. I don’t need to be told how to run my business.

I hear it time and time again from our peer board members, You don’t know what you don’t know.

Personally, I think that pretty much sums it up, but let’s explore further. Maybe you really have seen it all, but it’s the outside perspectives and new ideas you get from your peer board that are going to make you see your business in an fresh way.

Furthermore, business ownership can feel a bit lonely. Your peer advisory board is the sounding board for which you can truly open up and discuss your business objectively. You can expect to receive honest, unbiased feedback in a confidential setting that you just won’t find anywhere else.

As one of our board members recently put it, “My TAB board provides me what no one else will tell me – the truth!”

#3. Peer boards are basically networking groups and everyone will be trying to sell me something.

I’m a little offended by this misconception, so let’s nip this one in the bud right here and now!

Business leaders join peer advisory boards because they want to lead their businesses more strategically. Peer board members develop honest, meaningful relationships over time, becoming a trusted group of advisors with intimate knowledge of each other’s businesses.

Richard Branson wrote about the power of peer advice in his article, The Art of Asking for Advice, “When you need to make hard decisions, being able to discuss your ideas with entrepreneurs and business leaders who have solved similar problems can make all the difference.”

Your fellow board members truly care about helping your business grow, and have to knowledge and experience to get you there. You are just not going to find this anywhere else. Period.

#4. My business is unique. Someone in a different industry can’t help me.

75% of all businesses face the same challenges regardless of their industry. What kind of things do you deal with in your business? Financing? Hiring and retaining qualified employees? Increasing sales and/or marketing effectiveness?

Well, guess what: ME TOO! Along with just about every other business in creation. Your fellow peer board members have been there before and can help answer questions, so go tap into that knowledge and get on with growing your business!

I could really sit here and talk about peer advisory boards all day, but I want to know what you think. Where are you getting guidance on growing your business and why do you think that is better than a peer board? If you already participate in a peer board, what value are you gaining from your board?