Outside Help

Entrepreneurs, by nature, are independent spirits. And figuring it out ourselves has often been part of the joy of the journey.

But in the last year, almost every small business has lost its margin for error. And most business owners that I’ve met recently have told me that they’re worried their next mistake will be their last.

It has always struck me as odd that so few small businesses take advantage of outside help. Since outside help is my business, it’s a statement that reeks of self-servitude.

But, while I obviously believe there is no substitute for specific and specialized help at certain points in your company’s evolution, not enough small businesses take advantage of that inexpensive yet powerful development tool called The Board.

The Board is typically comprised of a small group of experienced, diverse professionals with expertise in specific areas that are relevant to your business. The best Boards are objective, transparent, skeptically supportive ( a rare and healthy combination ), and dedicated.

It takes time and commitment to put a great Board together. There are some costs. Typically travel reimbursement and a fee for attending Board meetings. But the best ones pay for themselves a hundred fold. And sometimes several thousand times more than that.

I have yet to find a small business that would not be significantly improved by having a formal group of advisors.

And yet, though I’ve seen no figures, my experience tells me that the vast majority do not. My guess would be only one in four.

Business today is harder than at any time since 1929. Combine that with the fact that we’re living through an epoch, and it becomes clear that, by ourselves, none of us have the experience to navigate every situation we face today.

In my own business, we’re currently working with no fewer than four different companies or individuals who help us make better decisions about building The Lookinglass Consultancy. They have effectively become an informal Board of Directors.

As a society, and as a species we’re living through history.

As small business owners, the choice before us is whether to shape it or become it.

A no brainer, right?