No man is an island, and no business owner should go it alone. A Board of Advisors can help you get third party perspective on ways to grow your business and correct mistakes you’re making.
Having an Advisory Board for your company can help you grow and expand faster than you would on your own. Because you’re adding people with a diverse range of experience to your Board, you’re rounding out the areas you’re weak in, and opening the door to new opportunities. Here’s how to ensure the success of your Board of Advisors.
1. Choose the Right People
Start by identifying the areas you want help in. Maybe you’re no marketing maven; in that case, one of your two to five Board members should have heavy marketing experience. Perhaps you want to get into big box retail. Find someone with the experience and drive to help you do it.
Each Board member should have a different skillset and bring something unique to the table. Personality counts too, as this group of people will be making decisions together on behalf of your company for years to come. Make sure they mesh well with others. This can be a challenge, as often the successful people you want on your Board are all Type A personalities!
2. Outline Your Expectations
This is wise for your own use as well as your potential Board members. Before you can recruit them to take time out of their busy schedules to help you, they will need to understand what you want from them. Consider:
- Time requirements: how often will the Board meet?
- External obligations: will you require them to attend functions or do research outside of meetings?
- Contacts: do you expect them to make introductions to business contacts?
- Finance: do you want them to contribute to your company in some way?
It’s a good idea to make a plan that outlines exactly what you want from your Board members and present this to each person you pitch to join the Board.
You may not have the cash to pay each member for her time, but there are other ways to compensate. If you have stock, you can offer equity to each Board member in exchange for her time and knowledge. Or you can exchange services or other means of making the work appealing.
- Many companies pay $200 to $3,000 per meeting per member.
- Others pay $5,000 to $25,000 a year.
- For stock, it’s typical to offer .25% to 3%.
4. Stay on Top of It
This is your company and your Board, so don’t let common pitfalls destroy what you created. If members begin to miss meetings, look at why that is. Are you holding too many? Are they scheduled at inconvenient times? Consider offering a call-in option to Board members who travel and can’t make each meeting.
Make sure your upper management is comfortable with the Board’s presence, as it can sometimes cause friction to have two parties working to run the company. Explain to your management why you brought the Board in and what you hope to achieve.
And going back to personalities, make sure everyone is getting heard and that the meetings are useful rather than just an argue session. Keep your number of Board members low to avoid this.
And keep the communication going! As the CEO or owner, it’s your responsibility to keep everyone informed in between meetings. Send a newsletter each month specifically for Board members to keep them apprised of changes and updates at your company. After all, they’re vested in your company, so they care what’s going on in between meetings.
At the end of each year, assess what’s gotten done thanks to the Board, and use this to determine the path the Board will take for next year. You may decide you didn’t hold enough meetings; that’s easy enough to amend. Or perhaps you didn’t have enough Board members to fulfill its true potential. Hunt for a few more members.