Advisory Boards Offer Wisdom, Ideas

Posted: Updated:

I'm not given to bragging, but I think the facts say I'm a successful entrepreneur. I've started several companies that are thriving and growing, and even landed on the Inc. 5000 list. So what made me decide to create an advisory board?

I recently held the first meeting of the advisory board for our SafeVisitor company, and was so pleased with the results that I’m establishing similar boards for our other companies. These are not boards of directors who have a direct stake in the financial well-being of the businesses. Instead, they’re primarily outsiders who have nothing direct to gain and owe no allegiance to our company.

They bring knowledge, expertise, and most of all, a completely different perspective to what we do for our clients. SafeVisitor is a visitor-management company that controls access and monitors the locations of visitors, primarily for school districts and companies. The organizations using SafeVisitor’s system want to know who is entering their facilities and whether they pose a threat to the people inside.

Some businesspeople I’ve known like to see themselves as the brightest people in the room, but I learned long ago that I get a lot farther when I surround myself with people who are smarter than me. So when I developed the advisory board, I identified experts who looked at security issues in ways my team may not.

For example, one member is a veteran Secret Service agent who has protected some of the most powerful people in the world. He thinks about threats in an entirely different way than a member who is a former law enforcement officer that manages security for an urban school district. Another member of the board served as a U.S. Navy Seal before going to work for a database company. He was trained to breach the security of our enemies while protecting American interests. Another is a software engineer who develops cybersecurity solutions.

We put all those people around a table, throw out a question, and sit back and listen. The interplay between them is amazing -- and it’s fun to listen. Nobody in the room tries to impress anyone else. Instead, they’re learning from each other as we learn from them. The Secret Service agent has spent his entire career creating perimeters that keep the bad guys out, while the ex-Seal spent his time finding ways to sneak through perimeters created by our nation’s foes. Ask them what an elementary school can do to keep the wrong people away from students, then watch their interaction.

We currently have eight people on our board, but I anticipate that we’ll expand that to a dozen. Part of the reason is that we also want to address geographic issues. For example, we’re doing more business in the Pacific Northwest, and we can’t assume that the challenges Indiana businesses face are the same at those affecting companies in Washington State. We meet quarterly, and keep the meetings to an hour, because we’re conscious of their commitment and don’t want to intrude on their schedules.

Thinking about creating your own advisory board? Don’t do it if you’re convinced that you’re the smartest guy or gal in the room and only want someone to confirm that for you. If you want to be questioned, challenged, and pushed, you’re on the right track.

Choose your board’s members carefully. You don’t want people who just like to hear themselves talk. And you don’t want folks who are reluctant to speak up. You want thoughtful people who are comfortable in their own skin, who are accustomed to speaking candidly, and who are capable of disagreeing without becoming disagreeable. It’s a process that takes time. It took well over a year from when I decided to create the advisory board until our first meeting.

Yes, it takes a lot of time and energy to create and sustain advisory boards, but the value we receive from the effort is tremendous. We believe that the input we receive will help us become more effective at serving our customers, will guide us in properly structuring our company, and will keep our focus on develop innovative solutions to stay ahead of our competitors. I think that’s something that could benefit any business owner.

Mike McCarty is CEO of Danville-based Safe Hiring Solutions

  • Perspectives

    • Planning For Expansion or Relocation in 2019?

      Given the strength of today’s economy, business relocations and expansions that were once few and far between are now much more common. Businesses considering significant investments or relocations in 2019 will consider the cost and availability of workforce, logistics, cost of short- and long-term occupancy, and much more when looking for the ideal project site. There needs to be a good community fit as well. While these are all critically important factors to the success of a...
    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Indy Airport to Introduce New Airline

      Indianapolis International Airport will today host an event to welcome a new airline. Airport officials say the provider will add more routes to IND's growing roster of options. Earlier this month, the airport reported record-breaking traffic in the third quarter. IND said the more than 2.4 million passengers that passed through the airport in the third quarter of 2018 marked an 8 percent year-to-date increase over last year and the best third quarter in the facility's history.

    • IND Adds New Airline, Nonstop Routes

      A Florida-based airline, billing itself as an "ultra low-cost carrier," is coming to Indianapolis International Airport. Spirit Airlines Inc. (NYSE: SAVE) will begin daily, nonstop service to Las Vegas and Orlando in March, and add summer seasonal nonstop service to Myrtle Beach in May. Vice President For Capacity Planning Mark Kopczak says the airline sees "real potential for growth" in those routes, adding IND has done a good job "selling Indy as a place...

    • National FFA Convention to Stay in Indy

      One of the state's largest conventions will remain in Indianapolis. The National FFA Organization has announced Indy will continue to host the National FFA Convention & Expo through 2031. The announcement comes two months after the organization set a new attendance record at the 2018 convention, which drew 69,944 people. The event had an estimated economic impact of $39.8 million for the city. The organization has previously committed to hold the event...

    • Stellar Communities Winners Unveiled

      Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch has unveiled the two winners of the 2018 Stellar Community designation. The regions selected for the designation will receive state funding to implement the revitalization plans submitted for their communities. This is the first year the designation has been awarded on a regional basis. Each region will receive $4.5 million from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, $2 million from the Indiana Department of Transportation and...

    • Indiana Companies Among 'Just 100'

      Three Indiana-based companies are including in Forbes' 2019 "Just 100" list. The ranking, according to the publication, features companies that are "taking the public interest into their own hands and generating better returns for themselves and society in the process."