Sharing ideas, thoughts, and information with people who respect you and are committed to your success is valuable for your business. A Board of Advisors can really make a difference in how you get things done and how your business grows. Use the questions and answers below to guide your advisory board planning.
What is a Board of Advisors?
A Board of Advisors is a group of former coworkers, respected community members, fellow entrepreneurs, and anyone else who can help you develop and grow your business. The group advises and mentors you, acts as a sounding board for new ideas, and is a source of referrals and customers.
Should I start a Board of Advisors for my business?
Yes, if you want a built-in support group committed to your business and success. Members will refer customers, share helpful information, and advise you when you have to make big decisions.
Who should I ask to sit on my Board of Advisors?
If you have professional or personal relationships with people, those are usually the best choices. Call prospective members first to run the idea by them, then follow up with a more detailed letter that explains your request. You should have between 6 and 10 people on your Board and each member should bring a different skill to the group. Make sure you have a lawyer, accountant, and marketing professional in the group.
How do the meetings work?
Once you have a group, ask each member for the most convenient time and location for meetings. Choose the best time and place and decide how often you want to meet, which could be once a month or once a year.
How do I get the most out of my Board?
Plan your meetings carefully and prepare people in advance. Send members an agenda several days before the meeting. Also send reading materials or anything else you want them to review and discuss at the meeting. On the day of the meeting, get there early and bring copies of the agenda and other support materials. Make sure you have refreshments and snacks. Finally, keep detailed minutes during the meeting and mail a copy to each member immediately after the meeting to keep the discussion fresh in everyone's mind.
Do I pay members of my Board of Advisors?
Paying members is not necessary, but you should offer to pay for parking or transportation costs and provide refreshments. If it's appropriate, give Board members gifts during the holidays. Payment and rewards can also come in the form of consistent recognition of their efforts -- say thank you. Make sure you share Board contact information with everyone so they can network with one another. Create an environment where everyone benefits.