What’s the Most Underrated Key to Business Success?

Vibrant company culture, a strong executive team and solid core values help to ensure sustainable business growth. But Marissa Levin, CEO of Successful Culture and EO Baltimore member, argues that a vital component to any organization’s success is an Advisory Board. Not to be confused with a Board of Directors, this group can help you realize breakthrough growth, if formed correctly.

Marissa recently presented at EO Nerve conference in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, hosting an interactive workshop for executives wanting to learn more about creating Advisory Boards. She offers the SCALE™ Model, detailed in her book, “Built to Scale: How Top Companies Create Breakthrough Growth Through Exceptional Advisory Boards,” as an effective tool to Select, Compensate, Associate, Leverage and Evaluate/Evolve/Exit (SCALE) a group of professionals whose priority is supporting the development of your company.

Marisssa argues, “We become the people that surround us. If we want to be the very best at what we do, we need to surround ourselves with others that are the very best at what they do.” Below are three suggestions she gives to anyone interested in taking the first step, selecting the right individuals to guide your growth.

A Board of Directors is not a Board of Advisors

Yes, both parties have a vested interest in your company, but they have very different intentions. Directors, who have a personal stake in the organization’s success (and profits), cannot provide a neutral perspective that you’re looking for in an advisor. An advisor should be someone who wants the best for you and your company, regardless of office politics. Look to your mentors, networking communities and even employees to identify the right people to bring on the Board.

Fill both immediate and long-term needs

As your company grows and changes, its needs will transform, as well. That’s why it’s a great idea to identify at least six of the most important issues you are facing, and look for people who have dealt with these same problems successfully. A Board of Advisors should fill gaps in your company’s expertise and relate to what you do. For example, if you need to update your accounting or financial processes, look for an individual who specializes in this area and has tackled the difficulties you are facing.

Pick the magic number

How many advisors should you have? It depends on the size of your company. Marissa suggests small companies, with less than 25 employees, should chose three to five advisors. A medium-size company could have five to seven, while a large corporation would need at least nine. It’s also wise to have an odd number of advisors, in case they would need to vote on an issue. Better to avoid a stalemate than regret it later!

Read more about building an Advisory Board in the book, “Built to Scale: How Top Companies Create Breakthrough Growth Through Exceptional Advisory Boards.” If you have any book recommendations that promote best business practices, email us!

Excerpts and images of “Built to Scale: How Top Companies Create Breakthrough Growth Through Exceptional Advisory Boards” were reproduced here with permission from the author.

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