Struggling Business? Call On Your Board of Advisors.

Entrepreneurs fail when their support structure is inadequate. A Board of Advisors to Management can be very supportive, especially in the early stages of a business. It can be comprised of any number of professionals who may or may not have experience in your exact same industry.

Advisors do just that. They advise, consult and recommend. But a Board of Advisors does not vote on strategic initiatives or the governing bylaws of a firm like a Board of Directors, who typically have an interest stake in their firms.

Selecting and organizing your Advisory Board is a strategic process, not to mention a diplomatic one. So calling up your rich uncle and asking him to spoon-feed you advice on a quarterly basis isn’t going to cut it in today’s competitive economy (unless your uncle happens to be Jack Welch). Rather, Advisors and their area of industry expertise need to be an appropriate fit for your enterprise; their background and management style needs to complement the needs of your company and be strategically aligned with its vision. This necessitates a thorough evaluation of your business plan and identifying how exactly a potential Advisor can help.

But the process doesn’t stop there. Now you have to call them and ask for their help. Sometimes this is can be a breeze if you know the would-be Advisor very well or if you already have a history together. I mean, just because your uncle made his millions in waste management doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll make a significant contribution to a company that develops casual online video games. However, when you identify a high-profile professional who’s background will compliment your company and who’s experience will contribute to the achievement of your goals, then convincing them to be an Advisor may require a little finesse and diplomacy.

Talk with them. Consult with them about the opportunity. Be candid and transparent about your needs and expect the same from them. It’s especially important to remember that Advisors are typically not paid for their contribution and sacrifice their time for your benefit. So if you ask for their advice, you’d better listen. Nothing can turn off an Advisory Board faster than soliciting feedback and then ignoring it. Bad form!

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