Where is the best place to find unofficial advisers?
I'm struggling to find good, unofficial advisers for my business. I am not looking to set up an official advisory board in exchange for equity, I just want to develop relationships with experienced professionals. Where should I be looking?
Have you been developing your professional network? I've mentioned this several times within the MosaicHUB forum. When starting a business, looking for clients, searching for assistance/guidance, it is absolutely essential to reach out to one's professional network. If you don't have one, start building it!
How? Attend local business networking events and identify a group (or groups) who "speak your language." Then, get to know individual members by learning about THEIR business and how you can assist one another whether through referrals, bartering services, or to act as one another's accountability coach. Through them, you should continue to meet other like-minded professionals. With time, you'll find the "unofficial" advice you're seeking.
A suggestion I would have is make sure you have your vision clearly defined, and a strategic plan tied to your vision. This strategic plan should help guide you in what professional resources you need to develop relationships with those experienced professionals. I would have a broad perspective to help meet changing market dynamics.
You are very wise in looking for advisers, for that is the key to successful business growth. I would suggest 3 options. One hire a good executive business coach. They can give you more clarity, help you support specific actions and hold you accountable so momentum is created. Executive coaches are really well networked and supply a network of individuals based upon your strategic plan. They can also help in developing your leadership and specifically in creating a dynamic culture. Most companies try to meet change through processes, systems or restructuring. Second Option would be once you have determined what expertise you require I would connect with those professional organizations. The third would be join a professional executive network organization, who can recommend some good individuals for you.
As a business coach, I am concerned with the description of "unofficial" advisers. Is that just another way of saying "unpaid", or that you just want advice and mentoring, and not anyone or people holding you accountable for doing things you know you need to be doing? Just saying...
You are absolutely doing the right thing in seeking advisers, as that is a key to successful business ownership. Virtually none of us know everything we need to know to be successful, so the trick is to find those who know the things we don't. Also add ... "someone from outside the business and family."
Advisory boards really work, as long as they are the type of people who are not only skilled and experienced, but that also are willing to tell you things you don't want to hear. I agree with others that advisory boards do not need equity positions; however, they should be compensated, but I know of several where it is just like an unpaid mentors meeting. I urge you though to have consistent regular meetings, with an agenda, and either be prepared to hear the stuff that will make you mad ... or don't waste your time putting something like that together.
most government agencies have mentorship programs, but is it not a bit unfair that you wish to create a business for gain yet wish to use other peoples skills and know how to further your ambitions without consideration of renumeration?
the question you should be asking is why are typical advsirs ignoring my requests
there are hundreds of web sites like this one even you can ask questions and get sound answers so again the question is what is your motif and that is probably why you are battling
I think you really get what you pay for.
As a business focused CPA, I end up providing them my experience and access to my network. If all you are getting from your CPA is a tax return, look elsewhere and get the real value.
Any good advisor expects something for their advice, and so do you. It doesn't have to be equity. I am a member of several Advisory Boards where I get a quarterly fee for my advice. There are many sources of Advisory Board Members - Accountants, Lawyers, Professors, Chamber of Commerce Members, etc.
Check out SCORE - the Senior Core of Retired Executives
Advisory boards do not require equity but in my opinion they should be compensated some how. I always suggest a monthly retainer.
The people you use should either be experts at what you are trying to achieve or people have some interest in your segment of business. The people that have used me as an advisor are usually in the franchising field or want to be some day and want direction on how to get there.
Remember that free advice is often worth what you paid for it.
I would recommend connecting with a local area incubator. They have tons of resources and people, and you can often associate yourself to them for free (you do not get offices etc, but you can get free advice).
Then you can participate in networking events, meet other companies and attend seminars where you will not only learn but meet potential candidates.
The ETC in Baltimore had a great team when my company was there. Their team have extensive management and operations experience, with resources to help with marketing and research.
We would recommend local, regional business and marketing consultants who can work by the hour or a project. Look at small retainers. Look at the Small Business Administration and retired executives who want to give back. In all three areas that is what Londre Marketing Consultants have done. A couple of additional ideas: you could find good professors who have real work experience. Those are adjunct, or senior lecturers Watch out for professors who have limited "real work" experience. They may be good writers of papers but you need real decision-making and vision. Look for resources that can help you.
While there are many companies like ours that you can hire on a fractional or interim basis, there are also some free resources. If you have not, a nice place to start is often: http://www.score.org/
No cost, experienced executives and great help according to many people that have used them in Collin County Texas.
Mosaic Hub is a great source actually. There are a lot of profiles of people on here that can advise you in many aspects of the business.
Elance is also a good source. If you need help or advise for your business, I would be willing to help out. I have a ton of experience in business analysis, business plan writing and have a company that deals directly with business development, management and analysis.
If you need help, let me know and we can work something out. Check out my profile for info.