This article is part of a series. Read Part II – Advisory Board vs. Board of Directors: Which is Right for You?

Several years ago, I’d hit a rough patch in my business. I’d grown my digital marketing agency bigger and faster than I’d imagined possible. I clearly remember sitting at my desk one afternoon in my gorgeous office, surrounded by a team of professionals that I employed… and feeling completely overwhelmed. At a time that should have been exciting, I was experiencing increasing anxiety. The challenges I faced were more complicated than my early years as an entrepreneur. The tough part was, I felt alone – I didn’t have a network of trusted, accomplished women I could turn to with my fear and frustrations. But once I realized that’s what was missing, I considered joining an advisory board before forming my own group – a network of women who understood the pressure, the challenges, and the joys of being a woman entrepreneur. Instead of friends and family who thought I was too ambitious or wanted too much, I had friends who got me. Even better, I gained access to objective advice, camaraderie, and new perspectives. And those are only some of the advantages of forming a formal advisory board for your business or setting up a more informal advisory peer group – you get access to the expertise and experience of seasoned other professionals. Advisors often have years of experience in their respective industries and can provide valuable insights and guidance on various aspects of your business, from marketing and sales to finance and operations. This can help you make more informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes. And advisors can provide valuable connections and introductions to other professionals in your industry, which can help you expand your network and grow your business. Sounds good? It is, but advisory boards and groups aren’t for everyone – let’s look at the formal definition of an advisory board, the advantages they offer, and if they’re right for you.

Understanding the Purpose of an Advisory Board/Group

First, it’s important to understand the purpose of setting up an advisory board or group. Advisors are individuals who provide guidance and advice to an organization, typically a business or nonprofit. You are asking them to share their expertise and provide valuable insights to help the organization succeed. They are usually experts in their field and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table to help you make better business decisions and achieve your goals. Some business owners assemble an informal but mutually beneficial group of peer advisors, some prefer a more formal arrangement and compensate board members for their time and expertise, while others choose to join peer advisory programs like ours.

Advantages of Joining an Advisory Board

Networking Opportunities

Participating in an advisory board or group can provide excellent networking opportunities for your business. Advisors usually possess extensive networks in their respective industries and can introduce you to other professionals who can help you grow your business. These connections can lead to new partnerships, collaborations, and business opportunities that you may not have had access to otherwise. Additionally, being part of an advisory board or group can help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, which can further enhance your networking opportunities.

Objective Feedback and Advice

One of the top advantages of joining an advisory board or forming a group or board for your business is the objective feedback and advice you can receive. Advisors can provide valuable insights and perspectives on your business strategy, operations, and overall performance. This feedback challenges your assumptions, helps to refine ideas, and allows you to make informed decisions that can drive your business forward.

Increased Credibility and Visibility

Advisories can also increase your business’s credibility and visibility. By associating your business with respected and influential professionals, you can enhance your reputation and gain exposure to new opportunities. This can lead to increased brand recognition, customer loyalty, and ultimately, revenue growth. Additionally, being part of an advisory board or group can provide opportunities for speaking engagements, media interviews, and other forms of thought leadership, which can further enhance your visibility and credibility in your industry.

Strategic Planning and Growth

Advisors provide valuable insights and perspectives on industry trends, market opportunities, and potential challenges. They can also offer advice on business strategy, marketing, and operations, helping you to evaluate all your options and achieve efficient, sustainable growth. With their support, you can develop a clear vision for your business and a roadmap for achieving your goals.

Is joining an advisory board right for you?

Now that we’ve covered structures and benefits of advisory boards and groups, let’s explore if they could be right for you.

Evaluate Your Skills and Expertise

Before deciding whether to form an advisory board or peer group, it’s important to evaluate your skills and expertise. Ask yourself what unique perspective you can bring to the table and the skills you’ll need to round out for success like financial, legal, operational, marketing, and other experts. By evaluating the skill sets you and your team lack, you can determine the best candidates and if it’s realistic to recruit them as advisors.

Consider the Time Commitment

You and your advisors must be available and willing to attend regular meetings and provide input and feedback on organizational strategies. There will also be an investment of time between meetings following up on and researching ideas generate in meetings. Think about how much time you can contribute and the commitment you are asking for from potential advisors. Consider everyone’s other commitments, such as work, family, and personal obligations, and determine whether you can collectively dedicate the necessary time and energy to the role.

Have a Clear Mission

Potential advisors will research your business before they make a commitment (the good ones will, anyway!). Provide them with clearly stated mission, values, and goals to ensure they align with your own. The key to recruiting advisors – especially if you cannot offer generous compensation for their time – is to help them understand your passion, purpose, and how they will make a wider impact by supporting you. It is also wise to be prepared to demonstrate financial stability and a positive reputation in your community.

Think About Your Motivation

Before making the decision to form an advisory board or group, it’s important to determine your motivation for doing so. Are you looking to expand your network, gain new skills and knowledge? Can you keep an open mind to the constructive criticism, questions, and advice you’ll receive? While you’re not legally bound to follow through on advice the way you may be with a Board of Directors, advisors will lose interest if they consistently feel dismissed. Getting clear on your motivation and expectations will help you to determine whether the opportunity aligns with your personal and professional goals.

If you’re ready to grow, join The Advisory interest list – build a trusted network of experienced, established women entrepreneurs. Give and receive support, insights, and expertise to move forward. Learn more now.