Have you ever had a day when you wished you had a partner to share the ups and downs of running your own business?
With my last company, I remember having days when I felt like it was me against the world — and the world was winning. Without partners to commiserate with, I often felt alone. That is, until I set up an advisory board.
I used my advisory board as part business guide, part support group. Here are three lessons I learned for setting up an effective advisory board:
1. Pick business owners (not your accountant or attorney)
I found the most valuable advisers were other business owners who had accomplished what I was attempting to do. I still paid for the services of an accountant and attorney when I needed technical advice, but keeping these professionals out of my advisory board meetings allowed my meetings to focus on strategic advice on company building.
2. Shut up and listen
I sent my advisory board a one-page summary of the key questions I was grappling with before the meeting. That way, my advisers were “scrubbed in” beforehand, and I could spend the bulk of my time listening to their advice.
3. Report your action steps within 48 hours
Within 48 hours of a meeting, I used to send a quick email to my advisers explaining which of their ideas I planned to implement immediately and which I intended to table for another time. I wanted them to know they were having an immediate and measurable impact.
An advisory board can also play a surprising role when it comes time to sell your business. Here’s a video of me explaining the secret to using your advisory board to get a higher valuation for your business:
How do you use your advisory board?