Build Your Own Brain Trust: How Advisory Boards Can Benefit Women Entrepreneurs
Malla Haridat, WE NYC Mentor
Malla Haridat - New Designs for Life

I remember the day my dreams were crushed. It was in the early stages of my business. I was eager and optimistic. I had sweated over a 12-month business plan and was presenting it to a small group of advisors who worked regularly with entrepreneurs and had agreed to help me with my business. 

They grilled me. Asked questions I hadn’t considered. Challenged me to increase expenses. Had me rethink several key areas of my plan.

I left the meeting thinking that I was totally unprepared.  

But the meeting was actually a turning point in my business. For the first time, I had received valuable feedback and analysis of my ideas from professionals, like the accountant who had probably reviewed hundreds of profit-and-loss statements and who could spot the weaknesses in the financial portion of my plan before I got out the words “break-even.” 

The most beneficial advisory boards are comprised of a collection of people with varying expertise and points of view.

Malla Haridat

I encourage you to consider forming your own advisory board so you can benefit from this kind of input. Incorporate this valuable feedback on a yearly basis when you set annual goals or more frequently—for example if you are considering a new strategy like hiring your first employee or seeking opportunities to do business internationally. 

The most beneficial advisory boards are comprised of a collection of people with varying expertise and points of view. Consider asking your accountant, business attorney and other professionals who regularly support your business operations. Invite them to a meeting and come prepared with your plan. They have a vested interest in helping you grow. Apart from demonstrating  general goodwill, their assistance may mean that you’ll increase the services you require from them! 

Your advisory board members should provide support and leadership coupled with useful, constructive feedback. Their job is to assist you in leading your company, push you to dream bigger and caution you when you stray from your vision. Being challenged in this way is an absolute necessity, especially if you are a female entrepreneur. Women entrepreneurs often prefer the one-on-one support of a mentor or coach because it’s nurturing and supportive. I’m a big fan of mentors and coaches, but you also need to challenge yourself to receive feedback in a group setting. Groups develop different ideas than any one individual will. There is something powerful about group brainstorming. By interacting with the group, you’ll increase your entrepreneurial leadership savvy. Good leaders feel comfortable leading in both individual and group settings. And nothing can get your creative juices flowing faster than two or more people challenging you to rethink your ideas!

Working with an advisory board grants you the opportunity to openly engage with a team of professionals that has the best interest of your business at heart. Entrepreneurs often think exclusively about the day-to-day needs of their businesses. How often do you take a moment to consider the big picture and how you’ll develop the plan to get there? In the same way that mothers need time to recharge their batteries, you need to spend time stepping away from the day-to-day challenges of running your business. It will help you course correct, identify new opportunities and challenge you to find new ways to grow and market your business. 

A wise group of counselors is simply a must for every woman venturing into entrepreneurship. Widen your business inner circle today with an advisory board and soon you’ll be basking in the successes you’ve always dreamed about!