My corporation recently held its annual meeting and I was reminded of how much I value the input and advice of our stockholders. Does your business have someone you can rely on for advice and guidance?
One way to get this type of insight—no matter what size or form your business takes—is to start your own board of advisors. While corporations have a board of directors, a board of advisors is an informal group of people who offer you business advice and input.
If you’re like me, you already get lots of this kind of interaction by talking to colleagues, friends and family members. But starting an advisory board is a great way to take it to the next level by creating more structure. By bringing your board of advisors together, you also enable them to interact. When people get together and brainstorm, you’ll get even more ideas about ways to grow your business.
How do you set up a board of advisors? You can probably already think of a couple of people right off the bat. To complete the board, think about each person’s skills, background and knowledge. You want a wide range of people from different industries whose advice can benefit your company. If you don’t have four to eight names in mind, ask people you trust to recommend possible advisors.
It’s a good idea to put the board membership in writing so everyone takes their commitment seriously. You should also ask members to sign nondisclosure agreements (to protect you) and release of liability forms (to protect them). Of course, it’s important to choose people you trust and can be open with.
Got your board? Meet on a regular basis (once a month is a good time frame to shoot for). Reimburse members of your board members with stock in the business or a token fee. A good board can help you solve all kinds of problems, provided you listen and truly take their advice into consideration.
Can’t wait till your next advisory board meeting for answers? Get advice any time you need it from SCORE, where online counseling enables answers to your business questions 24/7.