Lessons Learned: Advisory Boards at PowerLink Couldn’t Thrive Without our Incredible Pool of Advisors

A few weeks ago, I shared some of the lessons learned by our 104 company owners over the last year. But what make us truly unique as an economic development engine is our pool of more than 1,000 advisors.  Every single company we help gets matched with one or more advisors to help them with their trajectory through an Advisory Board meeting model.
But the real challenge of correctly matching companies and corporations is our ability to:
1.     Assess the business plan of the company
2.     Assess the business acumen of the CEO
3.     Determine the CEO’s strengths and weaknesses in Planning, Financial Management, Team Building, Communications, Management Skills to Achieve Goals Quarter over Quarter…then matching that company up with highly credentialed executives with domain expertise or experience helping other companies grow, manage, strategize, merge, acquire, hire, etc. Each advisor is selected very strategically for how they can help this company achieve its 1…5…10-year goals. 
4.     Our Advisory Board pool bench is deep. And it just became deeper over the summer when we agreed to partner with Executive Women’s Council to get access to more than 100 executive women in Western Pennsylvania who have the credentials and business experience to serve on advisory (or corporate) boards.  

Of the 104 businesses we helped in this past fiscal year, a few trends to share regarding their advisors:
1.     Our advisory board pool is about 53% female/47% male.
2.     About 85% of our advisors have more than 20 years professional business experience
3.     Because so many successful CEO/founders want to give back, about 300 of our advisors are retired or active CEO’s
4.     Our advisors have expertise in Succession, Merger, Divorce of Partners, Bankruptcy and Work Outs, Strategic Partnerships, Manufacturing, Technology, Retail, Services, Helping CEO’s who are too ill to run their companies, Sales, Marketing, Social Media, Human Resources Development, Organizational Development, CFO”s and Financial Management Executives, Advisors Who Have been inside while Valuing Companies Prior to Sale, Invested Start Ups, Bootstrap Start Ups, Spin Off Division Start Ups, Devastating External Issues that Effected a Companies’ Trajectory, and many more areas of expertise than we have space for here. 
5.     Our clients usually come to us because they are trying to grow, but they have gotten stuck in some way. Our job is to assess why they are stuck (usually not one simple answer) and then recruiting the right advisors to meet with them in a Custom Advisory Board or a “Mini” Advisory Board (a.k.a. CEO Circle) setting.
6.     This summer, we decided to try a third way…. Recruiting just one Advisor to join a Corporate Board as a strategic new member of the team. We are targeting $10-$100 MM privately held companies in Western Pennsylvania who want to bring on one or two corporate board members who understand the fiduciary responsibility and want to join a team of advisors already in play. We are committing to help 10 companies over the next year as part of PowerLink’s mission (we are a Pennsylvania 501c3 corporation) to help companies grow through matching them with the right advisors from our advisory board pool.   
7.    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 growing businesses in Western Pennsylvania who want to grow in a sustainable and profitable way. If you know of a company, or want to join PowerLink yourself, complete this Discovery Form.

8.    PS. Mention 20/20 Conversation on Diversity event and if you are a privately held company looking to strategically add corporate directors, reach out here for ticket information. 
Anita F. Brattina
CEO, PowerLink
September 22, 2018