Now that you've given some thought to who you would like to serve on your Advisory Board, hopefully you'll consider inviting them to take an active role in forming the future of your company. If so, it's time to lay the groundwork for sharing expectations and running effective meetings.
Before the First Meeting
Depending on the size and scope of your plans for change and growth, your board could meet either quarterly or every other month. Schedule the times and dates of your meetings for the year and distribute that information along with your business plan and meeting agenda prior to your first meeting. Schedule up to two hours for your meeting, including a short break. Determine the location, ideally somewhere private where no interruptions will occur. If not all of the members are locally based, you can A) meet in person with those who are and conference in the others, or B) do the entire meeting via conference call. If you conference the meeting, you might consider a free service that includes recording the session. This would make it easy to transcribe the minutes for y our meetings.
Your First Meeting
Begin by doing a very brief introduction of your board members and allowing each person to say a few things about what they hope to contribute. When you introduce each person you might include a few words about what skills, talents, and qualities you feel he or she brings to the table.
Share your vision of what the future holds for your company and how the Advisory Board fits into the vision.
Since the first meeting will include niceties like the introduction, begin with one topic, or two smaller topics on your agenda. These items are issues you are challenged by in some way; growth strategies, branding, website development, to name a few. Voice your thoughts around the challenge and open it up for discussion. In coaching, I ask, "what is the situation you'd like to address and how will you know when you have your answer?" It's a good idea to think about what you would like to walk away with at the end of each meeting and to keep the meeting from going off track.
Invite someone who is not on the board to take notes at the meeting so you or your assistant can create the minutes to be distributed prior to the next meeting. Don't try to take notes yourself; you need to be focused on the meeting. You might even consider recording the meeting.
Format the minutes soon after your meeting so that you remember the details that may not be included in the note taking. Schedule the time to do this onto your calendar so it doesn't get overlooked and you're not harried prior to the next meeting.
Keep notes on the progress of each item and on new developments, issues, successes, thoughts and questions that come up as well.
Keep your board members up-to-date on progress between meetings, but don't bog them down with too much detail.
A couple of days prior to your next meeting distribute the minutes, updates, and agenda.
Future Meetings and Beyond
During subsequent meeting plan on 2-3 topics per meeting and allot a reasonable amount of time for each topic.
Don't overstay your welcome in someone's life. Check in with your Board members at the 9-month mark and ask if they would like to be released from the board at the end of one year. It's good to get a new perspective and change Board members periodically.
Enjoy the many benefits that this added element will bring to your life and business. We would love to hear about your process here on The Million Dollar Mindset!
Last updated: Aug 18, 2009
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka