Editor’s note: Michelle Stockman works with Little Rock-based Arkansas Capital Corp. to promote entrepreneurship development around the state. Stockman earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University-Chicago in communications and fine arts, and earned a master’s in entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University. Her thoughts on business success appear each week on The City Wire.
The City Wire recently posted about a company called Duralor (NanoMech). This company has been located in the Genesis Incubator on the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville’s campus for several years and is moving into a great facility in Springdale. They initially utilized a company called Virtual Incubator to help them structure and prepare the business for growth while their scientists developed the nanotechnology they are now selling. Through their growth, the company has now attracted one of the brightest minds in technology development to lead the company into outstanding growth.
You’d be surprised to know that NanoMech was a typical start-up that struggled to balance their engineering mindset with how the business world works. What set them apart was the leadership in that company sought help for the areas in business that they were not strong. They developed a relationship with Virtual Incubator to act as an advisory panel to the company.
For most small businesses, you mention the idea of empaneling an advisory board for the business, and the business owner shrugs off the idea thinking they can handle the business on their own. That may be true for most. However, an advisory panel can help in many valuable ways.
First of all, an advisory panel can be one or more people you ask to share business information with in exchange for their knowledge in the industry. These are people you reach out and ask for their help based on what they may be able to bring to you (LinkedIn is a great tool to help you connect with thousands of industry experts). People love to help others, so don’t be shy to ask.
Secondly, an advisory panel allows you to keep control of your business. They do not have an ownership stake in the business, so you are still in control. The advisory panel should help lead you to new connections and customers. They will help you refine your business and product, and they will be able to listen to your frustrations and celebrations.
Lastly, advisory board members may be able to help you when it comes time for financing the business. Whether they become angel investors or help venture capitalists see you are serious about your business, an advisory board will give you and edge. So whether you are a retail store or the next Duralor, consider an advisory board for your company.
Stockman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org