Should You Be Starting or Expanding Your Advisory Board?

Have you held back on growing your business in a specific geographic area or business category because you don’t have any people on hand with expertise in that area? Perhaps you’re looking to innovate and really think outside the box, but your existing staff is coming up with ‘the same old ideas’. Do you know where your customer opportunities lie?

If you scratched your head on any of these questions, this might be a great time for you to start or build on your advisory board. An advisory board gives you access to a group of experts specifically for the purposes of growing, expanding and innovating your business, but has no voting rights.

“As GWR looks to a future of growth, it’s vital that the company get timely insight and knowledge from experts who know and appreciate our business.”

Canadian mining company GWR Resources recently added three new members to its advisory board. Two of the members have strong environmental and engineering experience, while one had a corporate background. “As GWR looks to a future of growth, it’s vital that the company get timely insight and knowledge from experts who know and appreciate our business,” President & CEO David H. Brett said in a public statement.

Enevate Corporation, a maker of lithium ion batteries, recently added Steve Altman, former president and vice chairman of telecom company Qualcomm, to its advisory board. “We are at a strategic inflection point in our company’s history and Steve brings a wealth of knowledge gained from his years in senior and executive leadership roles at Qualcomm,” said Brian Wong, CEO and President of Enevate. “Steve’s proven track record and experience in the telecommunications industry will help guide us through our growth.”

Advisory boards can help keep companies on track with their goals. “What we find is that the processes and disciplines introduced through having an advisory board filters right through the company and that in itself helps drive the performance of the company,” says Helen Down, founder of Advisory Boards New Zealand. “Just knowing the monthly Advisory Board meeting is coming up tends to focus all those involved!”

Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of your advisory board.

  1. Have a solid objective.
  2. Meet regularly and set goals for each meeting.
  3. Interview and “hire” the right people, don’t take anyone who is willing.
  4. Provide some type of compensation. It doesn’t have to be cash. It can be stock, or just food and expenses. Be creative.
  5. Keep the dialogue going all year. Email, phone, a blog. Find ways to keep the threat alive between meetings.

A board of directors is busy with critical business functions. An advisory board, on the other hand, is free to explore and innovate. The former keeps your business alive, but the latter can help keep it moving forward.


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