Sometimes you need a hand. Sometimes you can offer one. Be willing to do both.
My great friend, Nancy Michaels, posted a Rant on Saturday. Thanks, Nancy, for this reminder: Your best business will be a reflection of YOU, not anyone else. Mentors, consultants, other businesspeople, can all play a powerful part in your business development. However, steer clear of anyone who wants you to become a mini-them. Thanks, too, Nancy, for including me in your Rant as a good guy. (I do, on occasion, like to wear a costume. Just sayin’!)
Do allow yourself to be helped by enlisting people who can help you with areas of your business. However…no advisor is good at everything! The person who taught me the most about focus and business planning really struggled with his health and family relationships. I offer help with Financial Clean Up, and Business Planning. I refer to other pros when it comes to help with Marketing and Sales and Operations.
To Pay or Not To Pay.
Sometimes a quick phone call or business chat over lunch is a great way to get – and give – good free advice. However, it is appropriate to pay for services, even from friends. Have the conversation up front. “I would love help from you. What will we consider help as friends, and when should we formalize this help and enter a consulting relationship?” You can also sign up for one of their programs or seminars and expect service like a client. Nancy and I work together as friends and I am participating in her latest formal program, for example.
Here are people on my Board of Advisors. Some of them I have also paid to help me with specific areas of my business. Frank Blau for all things Financial. Nancy Michaels, for Marketing and Publicity. Dan Holohan, for Business Planning and Writing help. Al Levi, for Operations and Marketing. Orna and Matthew Walters for help with our Tele-Summit Event. Clint Arthur, for TV Publicity. Alex Carol for Radio Publicity. Jeffery Gitomer for Sales. Melinda Emerson for Business Planning and Social Media. Getting ready to play with Anisha Robinson Keeys for Corporate Connections. And loads more!
If I need help, I seek out those who can help me. And I offer to help when I am qualified and can. I also try to balance what I can pay for and expect an increase in my Sales and/or Profits as a result. Don’t sign up for everyone at once! (I’ve tried to buy my way out of problems. Doesn’t work.)
And, Nancy’s Rant also inspired me to share this advice about creating a Board of Advisors. It’s an excerpt from The Biz Plan Challenge Home Edition. Enjoy!
Shore Up Your Board.
Create a board of advisors for your company. A board of directors is comprised of paid professionals who carry heavy legal and fiduciary responsibilities for your company. Advisors are unpaid volunteers with no real legal responsibility. Volunteers are expectedly less formal in their advice and participation.
What does a board of advisors do? The best boards are independent, objective thinkers who help you solve tough business problems. The best board members complement you in strengths. They see your company with fresh eyes and unattached egos. NOTE! Beyond the scope of informal help is a paid consulting relationship. There is a place for both.
- Start by putting together an ideal list of advisors. Who are the best thinkers that you know…living or dead? How about having Thomas Jefferson, Tom Peters, J.P. Morgan, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, Ben Franklin and Mahatma Ghandi on your board? Cool, huh? Now, some of those folks are dead, and the others may be, well, over com