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Australia’s first Advisory Board Institute is here to help businesses innovate and grow


Marketing, advertising and business experts Lauren Fried and Toby Ralph have joined forces to help businesses in Australia boom by setting up the country’s first Advisory Board Institute.

Ms Fried, Pulse Marketing founder and MD, and Mr Ralph, who’s run advertising agencies and worked on more than 40 election campaigns, were passionate about creating the much-needed resource and service which will set up expert independent advisory boards for small and medium-sized businesses.

The initiative follows Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Innovation Statement late last year saying he wanted to drive an “ideas boom”. A key focus of the Federal Government’s plan is around strengthening ties between the business community and thought leaders. The Federal Government also on March 15 unveiled their very own advisory board to consult on the issues at hand and create policies.

Lauren Fried
Lauren Fried

“It’s a known fact that business owners who feel isolated or operate without advisors have thwarted growth while their business is building up operational, marketing and customer issues they don’t even know about,” said Ms Fried, who started Pulse Marketing 13 years ago and has learned some valuable lessons about business along the way.

“We wanted to provide expert independent advisory boards to small businesses, in order that their deep experience can be brought to bear on the issues, problems and opportunities that exist.”

How did the Advisory Board Institute come to be?

Long-time friends and regular panelists on ABC show Gruen, Ms Fried and Mr Ralph both sit on several boards and have used them for their own businesses and purposes. They know first hand the benefits of having access to expertise outside of the management team and from a range of different areas.

Mr Ralph said research from the University of Chicago showed “75 per cent of small business owners do not want to grow, and fewer than 8 per cent engage in innovation activities.”

Toby Ralph
Toby Ralph

“The same could be said for Australia, had we even the research into this very important area and hence the federal government’s move to try to spark more innovation and collaboration in this country,” said Mr Ralph.

“The executives we place are typically not available to small business, but their skills and experience can be leveraged as an advisory board, which is a fantastic resource for a management team to tap into.”

An advisory board could be useful in a variety of scenarios, and help answer business goals and questions such as:

  • Growth – Can the business grow profit without volume? How will competitors respond?
  • Operations – How can the business’ people become more effective?
  • Financing and structuring – Are the business structures optimised for a future sale?
  • Exits – What should be fixed before the sale process begins?

The Advisory Board Institute can also advise in areas such as sales and marketing, exit strategies, outsourcing, structuring, governance, new business and new product development, pricing, promotion, legal disputes, takeovers and mergers, government liaison, debt management and distribution.