Entrepreneurs know that it can be lonely at the top and they usually carry the burden of being the main driver of the business and decision making. This is where an advisory board comes in. It can be leveraged to make useful connections and to fill skills gaps. An advisor’s role is different to that of a board of directors. The main role is to provide the entrepreneur with advice and guidance to achieve his or her goals.
Here are some tips on choosing a good one:
When forming an advisory board, you should aim to address any challenges and opportunities that you face, and any skills that you lack. If you choose advisors that have been there and done that, they can save you a lot of time, money and heartache.
Look For Patient, Independent Thinkers
Your advisors should not be afraid to give advice, even when they feel the need to give you advice that you don’t want to hear. Choose advisors who can teach, educate and listen to you.
Find Advisors In Your Network
Finding the right advisors can be a challenge. Use your existing network or ask for referrals if there is no one in your network with the skills you need. They should also have a passion to help you succeed and share your vision.
Have a Written Contract With Advisors
Protect your sensitive business information with a non-disclosure agreement. Also, get them to sign a conflict of interest agreement to avoid the situation where financial or other personal or professional considerations compromise their objectivity, professional judgement and/or professional integrity. Spell out roles and responsibilities.
It’s not just about the money, but a good advisor wants you to succeed. When they feel their efforts are appreciated, they will be more likely to put in the extra effort. Also, if you have to pay for the advice, you are more likely to act on it.
Keep the Size Small
The worth of an advisory board depends on the skills of its members, not size. As the business grows, the needs may change, so don’t be afraid to change advisors.
Maximise the Value of Meetings
Meeting with your advisory board should be a valuable asset. Agendas and should come out in advance and advisors should receive monthly updates on the performance of the business. Communications should be short, easy to read and show trends. Cloud based tools are valuable for easy sharing of up to-date information. Notes with detailed action plans should follow each meeting with details of action to be taken, by who and by a target date. If you have an urgent issue, don’t wait until the next meeting. Call them.
Create an Advisory Board Early
The value of your business should increase due to your advisor’s insights. And, whatever you do, don’t make an advisor feel as if you are wasting their time. This leads to bad outcomes on both sides.