Whether you’re in big business or an entrepreneur, you need advice from time to time. External perspectives can be incredibly valuable. They’ll round out your thinking, help you work through complex problems, and identify new opportunities for growth.
Unfortunately many of us don’t have a formalized group of advisors – we simply pick up the phone or stroll by the office of anyone who will listen. That construct is only partially effective. The advisor may not have time to chat. They might be unfamiliar with the issue you’re dealing with. They might not even care to help but you’ve imprisoned them for 30 minutes with your plaintive “can you please help me?” request. The result? You get suboptimal and, sometimes, even bad advice.
There’s a better way. You should create your own personal board of directors.
In the corporate world, a board of directors is composed of ostensibly wise outside senior advisors to the leadership team. Their job is to help set direction, solve complex problems, and hold the business accountable against a variety of standards. Their role is formalized (meet once a quarter, they’re compensated, they have employment agreements, etc.). There are expectations placed on these individuals both by those within the company and those outside it (shareholders, regulators, etc.).
Fortunately for you, setting up your own board of directors should be less cumbersome. No employment agreements. No shareholders. But you still need to set standards. Here’s how I use mine: