By: Alex Cook
Being in business for yourself can be lonely. The pressure to grow your sales, pay staff and suppliers, keep customers happy, learn and obey new regulations and build something that supports your family is a challenge at the best of times.
God has offered us a great tip:
“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counsellors they succeed” – Proverbs 15:22
Get advice! Without it, business can be frustrating, hard work and an increased chance of failure. I find it interesting that the word of God refers to counsellors in the plural form, implying that we need advice from multiple sources. We were built for relationships and to work together. You can’t do business alone.
What is it?
A Board of Advice is a group of people who come together regularly to bring wisdom and knowledge to your business. No one businessperson has all the answers, so bringing together a group of ‘counsellors’ as the Bible says will go a long way to helping you succeed.
The goal of the board is ultimately to help you fulfil the vision of your business. However in a more specific ways they can help you in many of the following areas:
- Maintaining your Christian integrity and being humble
- Human Resource Issues
- Spiritual Covering & Prayer Partnership
- Operational Issues
- Growth Strategies
God has gifted each of us with different gifts that we are to share with the Body of Christ in order to advance his kingdom.
It differs from a Board of Directors in a few ways. Generally a Board of Directors is paid and are legally responsible for an organisation. If the business fails, there can be serious consequences for Directors. A Board of Advice, is relatively informal, and no member has any legal responsibility, they are volunteers.
Who is on it?
There are no rules, but there are some sensible principles to follow. My suggestion is you have a group of about 6-8 people. Less than six will mean you may not get sufficient depth of experience or ideas and more than 8 becomes harder to manage and to coordinate meetings.
Who should you have on your Board?
- Successful people in your industry
- Pastor (spiritual covering)
- Friends/family (that are have special skills or a proven track record)
- Christian business leaders
- Suppliers and customers may even be appropriate
A common question I get asked is “Should you have non-Christians on your board”? Unless your organisation is engaged in full-time vocational ministry such as a mission agency, then there are some good reasons to have non-believers on your board. First and foremost is the positive influence that hopefully your Christian board will have over them – wouldn’t it be great if they said “Wow, things get done differently here!” and in a good way! Secondly is God will have blessed them with certain gifts, whether they realise it or not, that they can share with your business.
Why is a Board so important?
For each of the businesses I have run I have had a Board of Advice. These groups have provided valuable strategic input and direction into the business. Here are some ways it will help you:
- Some of the best ideas will come out of your meetings
- It is a forum to bounce ideas of each other and share experiences
- You won’t feel alone
- Accountability to taking action
- Reduce your mistakes by learning from others
- Increased contacts and networks – open doors!
In short, a Board of Advice will help you increase your chances of success!
How does it work?
Once you’ve organised your Board, I’d recommend you meet at least quarterly. More than this is a possibility but probably unfair on unpaid volunteers. I am also a great believer in what is referred to as the 90-day plan. A 90-day plan includes specific objectives and tasks that need to be completed within 90 days. These are a very effective tool for accomplishing tasks in between board meetings and serve as a great tool to complete at the end of each meeting.
Some other important points:
- Open and close each meeting in prayer
- A written agenda should be prepared for every meeting.
- Each meeting should be recorded or someone takes minutes that can be sent to everyone.
- The business owner should chair the meeting and ensure that all members have an opportunity to contribute
- Try and limit the meeting to two hours, at the most three.
- The outcome of each meeting should be a written 90-day plan to focus on.
- Thank each member for his or her contribution with a small gift.
A Board of Advice will be one of the best decisions you will ever make!
Article supplied with thanks to Wealth with Purpose.
About the Author: Alex Cook is a financial planning expert and has advised individuals and businesses on how to manage their finances for over 19 years. He recently sold his successful financial planning business to pursue his passion of helping people like you to take control of their finances and future.