Photo: The Oxford Beach advisory board has challenged our approaches and brought opportunities to the table.
As 2012 drew to a close, I wrote a blog post about the Oxford Beach management team's decision to establish a board of advisers in 2013. I was convinced it would help take my events business to the next level because the company was in need of a more refined structure.
We're really fortunate to have such an experienced, dedicated advisory board:
Jeremy Zuker: An entrepreneur with private-equity experience who sold his startup, WagJag, to Torstar Digital.
G. Krishna Nikhil: Strategist and partner at McKinsey & Co.
Chris Polson: Finance and acquisitions background, and a partner at Veracap Corporate Finance Ltd.
Mark Healy: A thought leader with expensive marketing experience, recently named director of strategic planning at Venture Communications.
Rob Godfrey: Has built an extensive network, having headed up sales forToronto Blue Jays. He's also a business owner in multiple industries.
The advisory board has challenged our approaches and brought opportunities to the table. It has given our credibility a significant boost. We're only a few months in, but I've already come up with a list of key learnings, and while some may come across as minor, they have all had impact.
- Choose advisory board members who will make your business a priority, otherwise what's the point? They should be smart, experienced and connected, but you may not want the most successful person you know because there's a good chance he or she will be too invested in their own career.
- Your advisory board can provide the most valuable assistance outside the scheduled meetings. We get together quarterly as a group, and we try to meet individually with each board member at least once between those sessions. We also communicate regularly through e-mail, phone calls and text messages. With some members this takes place on a weekly basis.
- Advisory board members have different backgrounds and you need to manage them accordingly. We have some executional-type members and some high-level strategy ones. Those that fall under executional prefer to discuss the nitty gritty. The strategy group likes to discuss ideas in theory and move on.
- Share the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of your business. It's easy to talk about the great work your company is doing. We've received the best advice when we share our challenges and expose our vulnerabilities to the advisory board.
- You get out what you put in. In addition to making a conscious effort to communicate regularly with advisory board members, we prepare for the quarterly meetings seven to 10 days in advance, and we circulate documents five days ahead of time to ensure everyone has time to digest the relevant background information.
- Eat at the start of the meeting, not the end. It provides a buffer if someone is running late, and you don't want hungry advisory board members.