Think about creating an Advisory Board for your company.
It can be a low risk, low cost way to get important input in your efforts to grow your business.
There are differences between a board of directors and a board of advisors, mainly, an advisory board can be more low key with the members having no basic responsibility for the success or failure of the company.
Advisory boards can be as large or as small as you like. They can meet as frequently as you wish assuming their schedules permit. Normally the advisors are hand-picked friends with specific expertise willing to help. In many cases the advisors serve without compensation, although meeting over dinner at a good restaurant is a perk that everyone usually appreciates. If you include people who have to travel for the meetings I think it only fair that you pick up their airfare and hotel for the overnight stay.
The role of the advisory board can range from acting as a sounding board for your own ideas and plans to being a source of important referrals and contacts.
In my case of managing an investment fund, I put together an advisory board of seven exceptional professionals with whom I generally meet twice a year for a couple of hours at a time. Following our meeting we sit as a group for dinner. This “team” provides solid perspective on my own efforts. Probably the biggest payback to them is getting to know each other so that they can help each other in the future with their own careers and companies.
Starting out, I recommend putting your thoughts in writing so everyone you invite to participate as an advisor is clear on the purpose of the advisory board and how exactly it will function. Issues you might include in this write-up include:
- frequency of meetings per year
- location of the meetings
- length of time advisors are expected to serve, one or two years is usually appropriate. This gives you a chance to make changes which keeps the board fresh.
- your expectations of the board members. What do you want them to do for you?
Most organizations these days are strapped for cash and adding additional quality people to the management team often isn’t possible. Putting together your own advisory board can be a highly cost effective way to bring strong capabilities to bear on your own efforts to grow your business.