Lessons Learned from Helping 104 Small Businesses with Advisory Boards at PowerLink This Past Year

We just finished our 2017/2018 fiscal year at PowerLink. I was working on my final report for our governing board, and one of our CEO Advisors gave me an idea. “You should be blogging regularly about what your small businesses are learning in their Advisory Boards. Let everyone hear the stories about how your clients are growing, meeting challenges, hitting the $1 million revenue goal and whatever other lessons they are learning.” When Peter shares an idea, it’s usually a great one. So, Peter, this series of lessons is thanks to you.

Of the 104 small businesses we helped in this past fiscal year, a I have few trends to share:

  1. 100% of our owners are in the 27-county Western Pennsylvania region.
  2. 87% of our owners were generating less than $1 million per year when they started working with us, and 13% were generating more than $1 million in revenue.
  3. Four companies surpassed the $1M revenue mark while they have been working with their Advisory Board or CEO Circle, and another 8 companies are very close to that milestone. Very exciting for us to be a part of!
  4. Of our $1 million+ clients, their greatest needs were around leadership development, financial controls and reporting and a longer-term growth plan (~10 years) including succession.
  5. The five greatest “Lessons Learned” we witnessed were highly customized for each small business in the following areas:
    • Recurring revenue 
    • Recurring lead pipeline 
    • Branding and social media strateg
    • Hiring and leading
    • Sales process and pricing
  6. This past year we started 8 “Mini-Advisory Boards” where our large advisory board network can start meeting our clients. With help from area foundations, we are scheduled to start four more this fiscal year. Watch here for new locations, and register here for a PowerLink CEO Circle near you.
  7. We also saw our Advisory Board clients grow an average of 31% thanks to the help from their Advisory Board.
  8. We had a few clients navigate some major external issues that might have crippled or closed some businesses. With help from their PowerLink Advisors, we watched all but two of these companies pivot and stay stable despite the setbacks. 
  9. We continue to see that the companies who are still struggling even with the help of PowerLink Advisors, struggle because the owners are stuck and can’t seem to get themselves unstuck. A side note here--when I was matched with my first PowerLink Advisory Board as a client, I was very stubborn and opinionated and did not take advice for about 9 months.
    It is a credit to my Advisors that they hung in there and kept advising me anyway. PowerLink still believes that we must be diligent in advising despite the stubbornness of our owners because, eventually, most of our owners start trusting the process and the incredible Advisors we match them with. One the trust is in place, they start really gaining traction as companies. Again, very exciting to watch.  
  10. Our goals for this year are to continue our work in Western Pennsylvania with the help of our terrific staff, our 14 Executives-in-Residence (retired CEO's and consultants who chair our Advisory Boards and CEO Circles), our 61 Referral Partners who refer one or two qualified small businesses per quarter to us and our more than 1,000 Advisors (register here to be interviewed as a potential Advisor) and PowerLink alumni who are willing to give back to the next generation of small businesses we are serving today. We are looking for 100 more small businesses in Western Pennsylvania who want to grow to $1 million and beyond in a sustainable and profitable way. If you know of a company, or want to join PowerLink yourself, complete this Discovery Form.
This has been a banner year of growth and new lessons for PowerLink and its clients. We can't wait to see where our business owners will go next! 

Anita F. Brattina
CEO, PowerLink
September 7th, 2018


  1. Very impressive stats! Thanks for sharing this, Anita, and best wishes to you and the entire PowerLink team on the mission of helping small businesses to succeed.

  2. Wow. I'm excited to be a part of powerlink and looking forward to the future.


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