Advisory boards a small business secret weapon: Ombudsman

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, says advisory boards are increasingly playing a key role in Australia’s small business’ success stories.

Speaking at the Global Thought Leadership Summit in Melbourne recently, Carnell stated that 74 per cent of businesses that use advisory boards want assistance with their growth strategy.

Touting them as “a secret weapon in the growing small business’ arsenal,” Carnell said, “While the small-business owner is often flat-out with the day-to-day running of the business, advisory boards are able to realise the SME’s potential by working on the business, not in it. They help set a clear plan forward and help the small business owner focus on growth rather than getting distracted while putting out spot fires.”

Carnell noted that advisory boards have seen considerable growth in Australia in the past couple of years, but many SMEs continue to consider themselves too small or not successful enough to engage an advisory board.

“The benefits…have been measured in other parts of the world. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) surveyed over 4,000 businesses across the country and found sales grew by 66 per cent on average in the first three years after setting up an advisory board. The BDC survey found annual sales for businesses with an advisory board were 24 per cent higher than those without one.”

Carnell said that advisory boards can also be particularly useful in succession planning, which we know is a significant issue for Australian family businesses.

“Importantly, advisory boards don’t need to be a huge cost or time consuming for the small business owner. You can arrange to pay a meeting attendance fee and meet every two to three months,” Carnell said.

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