A business advisory board is a group of expert individuals specially selected to advise your business on how it can be better. They meet fairly regularly and discuss the issues you need help with the most, from marketing to financing to expansion.
However, these days more and more businesses have their advisory boards online as way of saving time, money and increasing productivity. But they’re only as effective as the tools used to run them.
Below we outline 10 essential tools which will help keep your online advisory board running smoothly.
1. Board of Advisors Program
There’s no better way to understand how to run an advisory board than through personal experience. It’ll help you work out how you like to be treated as a member and how to get the most out of your team. There are a number of global networks which operate online, such as the Entrepreneur’s Organisation, setting up mentors with mentees and facilitating the collaboration of experts in business worldwide.
You may decide that the easiest tool to use would be one that does it all for you. Within3 is just that. Becoming increasingly popular in the pharmaceutical industry and now moving into business, this software provides one integrated system that allows all members to communicate, view, publish and edit documents, as well as provide feedback to management.
Like Within3, this tool is integrated and does the hard work for you. Although it’s most commonly used in the medical and health industry, it’s starting to become more widely used in business for its simple display and usability.
One of the obvious benefits of an online advisory board is that members don’t have to physically occupy the same room. This means your business doesn’t have to pay travel expenses and your members can more easily attend meetings if they have a busy schedule. It also means that your members can be experts from anywhere in the world, dramatically increasing the talent pool you can draw from. Skype facilitates this. Simply set a time to meet and members can log on using their smartphone or laptop and contribute, seeing the faces and hearing the voices of the other members.
Finding the right people to be on your advisory board can be tricky. You want members with a high level of expertise in their area, but also those who are willing to contribute to the future success of your business. LinkedIn is a great database for this. Search by profession or area and look through their bios. Once you’ve found the right candidates, start the conversation by messaging them through the site.
You need to communicate regularly with your members. The more they know about how your business is going, the better advice they can offer. Keep them updated with emails and newsletters. Gmail’s a great platform for this because it’s powerful and reliable, as well as providing an integrated system with its Drive, Docs and Sheets functions.
7. Google Drive
Keep all your documents in a central place so your members can access the information at anytime from anywhere in the world. Google Drive is a storage space where information and data can be easily shared and viewed. Documents can be published and edited by members so they’re always in the loop.
8. Google Docs
Your advisory board may often need to prepare reports for you and management. And since they’re not in the same room, working together can be difficult. However, Google Docs is a great tool to alleviate this problem. Documents can be written and edited simultaneously by many members with ease. It’s also simple for members to highlight sections and provide comments for improvements.
It’s often even trickier to meet deadlines when your advisory board doesn’t meet face-to-face, but it’s vital all members are aware of important dates. Google Sheets can help with this by acting as your advisory board’s online calendar. It can also be a great way to upload graphs and charts regarding financial elements of your business. And these can, of course, be hosted on the Google Drive.
You may prefer a less formal method of communication between your members. WhatsApp is a predominantly mobile tool which allows for easy messaging and group chats between members using internet data. Messages appear instantly and therefore it can be a great tool to call impromptu meetings or point members in the direction of a recently published document that needs their attention.
Whatever your business, online advisory boards can be a great way to save time and money and increase productivity. So make sure you’re using the best tools out there and start to reap the benefits.
If you’d like to learn more about creating an advisory board, download our free eGuide by clicking below: