Most large enterprise companies have a Board of Directors or Board of Advisors that will help guide them through significant business challenges or obstacles. It’s also fair to say that most small to mid-sized companies don’t have such a board, although they certainly have their fair share of “issues” where expert advice and guidance would be extremely welcome.
Enter the informal Board of Advisors. No, I don’t mean a “pay to play” board, nor do I mean your brother or sister-in-law who are always keen to weigh in with advice on your business matters. I’m referring to an informal Board of Advisors that will provide a business owner with impartial advice and shares their knowledge on critical aspects of the business.
If you decide that an informal Board of Advisors would be a sound concept for your company, you must decide whom you should ask to join your Board. This important decision should be made only after careful consideration and after you weigh the pros and cons of each individual. Make a list of the Board members you would like and the alternative group as well. Pay attention to the following parameters and ask yourself the following questions:
Do the individuals that you are considering have subject matter expertise and are critical thinkers in their specific areas?
Are the candidates successful? This doesn’t mean that they have not experienced any business downturns or failures, however, at the present time are they enjoying business success and growth?
Will their expertise be in sync with your unique business situation? While it is always good to include individuals that have different backgrounds and perspectives, you must also be careful to include people that have “walked in your shoes.”
Can you trust them and feel completely comfortable revealing confidential information about your company?
Will the individuals be able to work together as a Board in support of your business situation?
When reaching out to potential board members, provide them with the following information:
The reasons you are forming a board and why you are interested in having them become a member.
A full explanation of their board responsibilities and time commitment.
A list of the other potential members of the board.
A NDA must be signed by all board members so there are no business “leaks.”
Be comfortable with the fact that some of the people that you approach with your request will say no and for many different reasons. Feeling “rejected” will serve to make this a very complicated and emotional undertaking; don’t take it personally.
It’s also important to make certain that the potential board members feel at ease refusing your request. You don’t want them to feel “obligated” and say yes, however reluctantly. This will sabotage your board from the outset.