Since you’re reading this blog, you are most likely an entrepreneur, small business owner, or senior organizational leader. There is one thing you all have in common – your position can be isolating. Entrepreneurs and small business owners, in particular, face a daunting challenge; how to get the advice and direction you need when you are the sole decision maker. The solution is to develop and grow an advisory team the way you would an employee or leadership team.

As I explain in my e-book, Leading Teams That Get Results, the first step is to understand and evaluate the team you have today.

Who belongs on an advisory team?

Not everyone from whom you receive advice is part of your advisory team; for example, you may have a mentor or business partner. Yes, you’ll get great input from these important contacts, but your social/professional circle is not technically an advisory team.

I went to an event today featuring speakers and a panel revealing the best way to approach firms to which you’ll outsource functions that aren’t your strength. Each and every speaker talked about the importance of partnership with a close group of vendors. Five types of firms were represented at this event: law, CPA, technology, marketing, and specialized consultant.  These are the contacts that make up a professional advisory team.

Business guru, Jim Rohn, said, “You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Apply Mr. Rohn’s insight to your business and you get this: Your business success is the average of the five partnerships on your professional advisory team. Can you calculate your team’s average?

Let’s explore the first of two central questions about your team in this blog post. I’ll write a subsequent post to explore the second question.

  1. How strong is the professional advisory team for your business?
  2. How do you manage your team of experts for the revival and success of your business?

Anyone can begin a relationship – True partnerships evolve over the long-term

Before I take you through the a process to evaluate the strength of your professional advisory team, I’ll be clear about what “strong” means. Sales Performance International published a white paper, where they shared the following definition from research firm CSO Insights, “Trusted Partner: At this highest level, you are seen as a long-term partner whose contributions, products, insights, processes, etc. are viewed as key to your client’s long-term success.” This deep relationship, level 5 trusted partnership, is our beacon.

Approach your evaluation of your professional advisory team methodically.

  1. Write down the business and contact names of your legal advisor, accountant, technology partner, marketing professional, and another crucial consultant (promotional services, executive coach, business operations, etc.) Note: If you do not have a contact in one of these areas, or you are yourself a lawyer, accountant, marketing professional, tech specialist, or consultant, then adjust and build your team as appropriate.
  2. Assign each contact a number from 1 – 5 where 5 exemplifies a trusted partnership, and 1 is furthest from trusted partnership.
  3. Take the average of your team.

modified rohn quote image

The next step is to reflect on your results. Start by answering these questions.

  • Which member of your advisory team is most responsible for lowering the average?
  • Which member of the team is closest to level 5 trusted partnership?
  • How did you build and grow this partnership?
  • With whom do you want to grow your partnership next?
  • What steps can you take to move your chosen team member toward level 5 trusted partnership?

Keep in mind that not all your partnerships will be at level 5 right away. In fact, building each partnership intentionally and carefully allows you to evaluate whether or not you have the right five people on your team.

Share your successes and challenges in building an advisory team in the comments. Let’s learn together.


Next week’s post will explore the question: How do you manage your team of experts for the revival and success of your business? Stay tuned!

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