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We all know Captain Kirk was the original and best, but his legacy gave a leg up to J-LP and countless spin offs off the back of just 3 series debuting way back in 1966!

Fascinating but what does this have to do with me or my business?

Well both these stellar (pun intended) leaders had one thing in common – they didn’t do it all themselves! In order to wrestle this article back from geek-dom we won’t go into detail but these fictional examples point to what all effective organisations have in common.

The spaceship leadership surrounds themselves with experts in the areas that they either don’t have the knowledge or the resources (time) to handle themselves. In effect, the bridge of the ship is the boardroom, and the advisory board is the guidance for the captain.

Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners, juggling sales, HR, finance, premises, government relations, and family (!), often seven days a week may be understandably envious of their corporately owned competitors who benefit from an elaborate management hierarchy providing strategic board level support. Without multiple business lines over which to spread these costs, SME owners often feel constrained by costs to access this support.

The concept of implementing an advisory board is gathering momentum with SME owners as a safe forum to obtain non-binding strategic advice from advisers who know your industry, with technology lowering the costs of collaboration and delivery.

Indeed in Europe the concept of advisory board is well understood in both the public and private spheres. The role of an advisory board is to provide flexible and informal advice which can be structured to suit the current and specific challenges or opportunities of your business.

Over our 30 plus years of experience, some of the best advice we can give business owners in managing current challenges and planning for future growth is to use good governance and the strategic guidance offered with a well-appointed advisory board.

An advisory board is different to an ordinary board in that it is informal in nature, is quite flexible, owes no fiduciary duties to the company, has no authority to act on behalf of the company and each is uniquely structured to meet the needs of the business and its owners.

Typically, members of advisory boards include accountants, lawyers, marketers, industry experts, HR experts and entrepreneurs. There are no rules as to how many members make up an advisory board, but it is important to maintain an efficient and effective group, to understand why people are there and what value they bring to the table. To keep the group dynamics in check, we would recommend not more than 5 people on an advisory board.

One key to board composition and size is diversity, so look for members who are compatible, but think in different ways.

Based on your unique challenges and opportunities ahead, you will need to determine the roles and responsibilities of your advisory board to best suit your venue’s particular circumstances and needs.

Advisory boards are a cost effective resource that usually meet 6-8 times per year, however this depends on the business owners' requirements and the types of issues that the business is facing.

In the event the business is a family business run by multiple family members, an advisory board can be invaluable providing assistance with:

  • Policing and mediating tensions between family members
  • Broken communication between generations
  • Moderating emotionally charged decision making
  • Helping expand and diversify the business
  • Strategic acquisition and divestment decisions
  • Counseling regarding succession and retirement plans

The use of cloud accounting, Skype, email and virtual conferencing has made bringing experts together much more cost effective.

We have over 30 years of experience to draw upon when providing strategic guidance and support for business owners to develop, grow and transition their business. Please contact your usual Hanrick Curran advisor or alternatively John Kotzur or Matthew Beasley on 07 3218 3900 to discuss how we can support you in establishing your Advisory Board.

Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.