“Your business is approaching the time when you should have a trusted advisor or advisory board of directors to keep you on track.” My business mentor told me this in my early days of working in a startup business.
The advice remains relevant today. When you approach a time when you are considering adding franchising to your business model, or a new product line, you should choose a trusted advisor who can keep you on track to reach your business goals. Outside advisors do not come with any agenda or prejudice linked to the company’s origin. They will bring skills, experience, and a clear perspective to your business and help you reach your next company milestone.
When you choose an advisor you must ask yourself, what is missing with my team? Would it help to have more input in marketing, merchandising, technology or finance? Should I seek advisors in other industries who faced and overcame obstacles similar to my own?
My company, Paper Warehouse, added its advisory board in 1991 as we proceeded on a very rapid growth plan. We increased our store count from the original four stores of 1986 to fifty-six with an approximate volume of $60.0 million plus 23 franchise stores operating in 12 states in 1995. I remembered my mentor’s advice, it was time. I added a trusted advisor.
With my advisor and advisory board, we analyzed my situation. We concluded that my team did not know everything that was needed to expand. If I wanted to quickly and strategically move into franchising, I needed to be smart about it. We did not have a complete operation manual. Our store layout needed improvements. We did not have a specific look or niche to give us the punch we needed to attract potential buyers of our franchise product.
An advisor will help you move your business to the next level. Your advisor will help you determine the members of your advisory board. He or she will help you select people who can add in-house experience and expertise. Your advisor will enhance corporate self-discipline and accountability and will help you with your strategic planning process. The addition of an advisor and an advisory board should not be considered an expense; it is an investment in your business.
*Yale Dolginow is President of Elanstrategic llc, which provides strategic, execution, transition, and exit advisory services. Yale has a BA, MBA, and has attended Harvard Business School’s OPM Program. He is originally from Kansas City where he was President and CEO of Dolgin’s Inc., a jewelry and general merchandise company, which he grew from one store to seven before selling it to Modern Merchandise of MN. In addition, he was with Dayton Hudson Corporation as Asst. to President, CEO of Carlson Catalog Showroom for five years, and founder of Paper Warehouse, which was sold in 2002.