You would be mad not to use the advice, insights, experience, knowledge and contacts of experience directors and advisors. Advisory boards are like friends you go for advice, ideas and feedback, they view your business from far, far away.
Approach them for high-level advice about your ideas for new products and services. In contrast a board of directors are more like parent and give you guidance on practical, day to day stuff. They view the business from a much closer perspective.
A big consideration is that a board of directors have legal responsibilities, whilst your board of advisors can dip in and out without any legal repercussions.
Advisors are a more cost effective option. Directors are paid in shares (or are already shareholders), advisors are sometimes paid, or might be given token shares. Most advisors are just doing it for the fun and to help. However, because it is free and supposed to be fun you need a compelling story to get the best and most talented advisors.
When you recruit advisors look for c-level people, such as chief executive, chief financial or chief technology officers. Make sure to clarify the low time commitment, use them more than two hours a quarter, on a conference call with the group and maybe one-on-one conversation with a member of the executive team,.
You need to contact your advisors at regular intervals. While you should not break your promise of a time commitment of no more than two hours a quarter, don’t make the opposite mistake of not calling them at all. Call each adviser at least once a month — for example, with an e-mail updating them about a new product introduction or a recent hire. Then, once a quarter, call them individually.
Always have something in mind which you can use their perspective. In doing so, you avail of 300 years of experience, contacts, advice, knowledge — 10 advisers, each with 30 years in the business — during the course of 10 phone calls. Your advisers will tell you if you are calling them too frequently. They won’t say anything if you aren’t utilizing them enough. They will just feel slighted and unappreciated, which you shouldn’t let happen.
Finally, remember to thank your advisers — often. Let them know their advice is valuable and that you are listening. Like any important relationship, make sure you let them know that you need them.