Advisory Board & Alternatives

A recent Fox Business News article by Cindy Vanegas “Tips for Creating an Advisory Board” discusses use of an advisory board by entrepreneurs. (Read Article) I have worked in a number of companies which have or were considering use of an advisory board as well as discussing their use with clients.

I feel an advisory board can be of benefit in certain circumstances, predominately assistance in marketing and opening doors. Finding the right advisors and clearly defining their role and expectations are key. Advisors with the right industry connections and who can and will open doors are invaluable to any organization.

However, there are a number of considerations.

1)    Frequency of meetings;

2)    Remuneration;

3)    Expectations;

4)    Are you willing to act on advice (if not, why bother);

Ms Vanegas also mentions the following by “Susan Hammond, author of “Advisory Board Kit” (who) warned that the entrepreneurs must

  • •be able to take constructive criticism
  • •be willing to open up all aspects of the business to the advisors’ scrutiny
  • •be aware of his or her own strengths and weaknesses and those of the senior team as well as the opportunities and threats facing the business
  • •have a vision of where he or she wants to take the business that can be articulated to prospective advisors
  • •clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of the advisors, the entrepreneur and the business.”


Another Consideration

However, if your main goal is mentoring, I would recommend consideration of alternatives such as Vistage or similar groups like The Alternative Board and Young Presidents. While these groups are not free, properly done neither is an advisory board.

Further they typically come with one on one coaching in addition to group participation with peers of other CEOs in a round table “Board Room” style format.

As a member of Vistage Trusted Advisors I am most familiar with that organization. Vistage members typically head organizations that grow significantly faster than other companies. I have also found the entrepreneurs are more focused on their business and make great clients with a desire to learn and take their business to the next level.

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