Peter Williams, Australia’s #1 Authority On Leveraging Growth Through Business Advisory Boards, is interviewed by television news presenter and reporter Amber Sherlock of TV’s Nine News. They discuss his book, Are You Ready For Your Own Advisory Board?, and some advisory board case studies.


Amber Sherlock: Can you share some advisory board case studies?

Peter Williams: Over many years and working with 17 boards, I’ve worked with amazing people in amazing businesses and just being around people who are successful, who have grown their businesses from where they started to where they are now have been very inspiring. The reasons that people or purpose that people set up all their business owners set up advisory boards are many. Sometimes they are wanting or going into a new market, sometimes they want to expand internationally or even nationally. Sometimes they’ve got a new product that they want to bring. Sometimes they just want to break through that ceiling that they get to. They’ve grown their business, they get to a ceiling and they’re not quite sure.

So, there are very many reasons that business owners will set up at an advisory board. Perhaps, I can talk about three of them and that I currently work with. One is an IT company that wanted to get investor-ready. So they had grown their business from, as the managing director said to me, we started the business we were small, we were clever and we were agile. We were nine people. We are now 129 people. So, my whole way of managing the business, running the business has changed dramatically. We will need an outside finance to expand into the eastern states. And I don’t know how to actually get ready, I don’t know what I’m looking for. So what I’d like to do is to understand how a governance structure works, how strategy can work and therefore how can we actually get the right investors and the right directors to take the company to that next level that I want to.

So, that was one example. Another example is four generations of family business. The husband and wife are the third generation and they’re bringing their fourth generation through. So they’ve realised that they also have got to that ceiling and that they need to have outside expertise and outside support and encouragement and challenge to take the business to the next level. But also to be able to hand it over to the next generation. So the next generation are coming through and they’re being mentored and coached on all aspects of the business. One of the good things about an advisory board is that everyone gets a 360 degree view of the business.

And the last one was several shareholders, founding shareholders after about five years, had a big falling out. Very different view on where the company should go. So they both saw that they had aspirations for the growth of the company, but they’d both different in the ways of that should be achieved. The advisory board helped bring all that together, crystallized the vision, getting alignment on it, and then was able to take the business forward to being a very successful enterprise that it is today and continuing on. So they are just three examples of the types of advisory boards and how they work. And it’s really about focus, clarity and structure and that can achieve some great things.