Corporate Advisory Firm Services

A corporate advisory firm delivers advice on financial restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, strategic advice, debt advice and all matters related to corporate governance.

These services are offered to organizations big and small so that they may be able to deal with the fast paced changes that take place in the business environment and stay ahead of competition.

How to choose a good corporate advisory firm?

Choosing a corporate advisory firm is not easy and most organizations find it to be a daunting task. Finding a firm that meets your specific needs and requirements can be difficult. You need to take many things into consideration before you choose a firm that matches your expectations.

Experience – One of the first things that you need to look for when choosing corporate advisory firm is their experience. Does the firm have a record of successful transactions? What is the value of transactions that the firm has advised on? Do they have the capability of managing transactions of big size? What is the average transaction value and what are the largest and smallest transactions successfully completed? These questions can help in determining the experience of the firm in various corporate matters.

Credibility – It is important that the advisors are credible, qualified and experienced. It is best to read reviews about the firm and the services offered so that you are able to make an informed choice. When the advisory team has a wealth of experience in business management and corporate advisory transactions, it can guide you to take good decisions.

Confidentiality – The corporate advisory firm has to respect and manage client confidentiality at all times. All processes need to be conducted on a confidential basis. Discretion and sensitivity in negotiations can help minimize risk to business. The firm should be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement with the business so that information that is exchanged is safeguarded.

Communication – It is important that the firm provides high levels of communication and advice to clients so that they are able to make informed choices. The firm should also be highly responsive in communication so that it ensures a smooth process of completion of the business transaction. The firm also needs to provide regular written reports to the client so that all activity and progress can be monitored successfully.

The corporate advisory firm needs to work closely with the business so that they are able to provide a service that is customized to the specific needs and requirements of the business.

Before you choose the firm it is best to look at the areas of work that the firm specializes in so that you can make an appropriate choice. The areas of work of most corporate advisory firms include preparation of annual reports, corporate governance compliance, policies and procedures and legal and regulatory work.

Making Money With Option Advisory Service

Do you want to make your own money the way professionals do? One of the most popular investment opportunities in the world nowadays are option advisory services, where you can trade options to other parties anywhere in the world. With trading options, you can surely make your own money and triple its amount in no time!

Since an option advisory service uses options, it is sure that you can have the leverage in the trade market. Options, unlike other business transactions that use physical derivatives such as trading stocks, are contracts or agreements made between two parties – the seller and the buyer – wherein the former gives something to the latter with a certain price and a certain time. The derivative being sold cannot be purchased by others until the designated deadline had passed, and the designated price will remain as it is regardless of the changes in prices. Nevertheless, you can be ensured that you can make money with options if you join an online option advisory service by online option brokers. These services guarantee you the best opportunities in the worldwide market where you can easily trade your options to other parties, and earn big sums of money.

Since there are numerous online brokers that offer option advisory to interested individuals, you can easily find one that will suit you the best. However, there had also been a number of scam option trades due to the sheer number of individuals wanting to gamble their chances on earning money through trading options. Thus, it is best that you should have an adequate knowledge on the matter, and that you should also seek the help of an expert since the world of trade market is complicated, as proven by the increasing number of people being victimized by scam option advisory trades.

In choosing the best option advisory service, you should look first at the performance of the service. Since there are numerous services that cover their poor performance in the market, you should do a research and find out which service has the best performance. If the service uses auto trading, you should make sure that it has a reputable broker, and that it uses a successful strategy in trading options. Since there is a specific strategy that every service uses in trading options, you should familiarize yourself with it so you can know the risks and rewards being gambled. You should also determine the subscription plans that a particular service is providing, and compare it to other service providers. Some of the most trusted sites where you can observe the performance of a particular service are option service reviews and forums, wherein investors hold discussions regarding option advisory services.

Stock Advisory Company

What is A Stock Advisory Company?

A stock advisory is a firm which helps you to invest or trade in share market. Such advisory provides paid services and gives you advices like which stock to buy, which to sell, how to trade in market and what strategies should be followed while trading in stock market. They also provide real time tips like when to buy or sell a share with stop loss and targets.

A Stock advisory does the following tasks

1. Gives It is client advices regarding stocks to buy and sell.
2. Tells him how to invest money in stock market (money management).
3. Assist him by giving follow ups time to time.
4. Provides proper strategies and planning for investing or trading in stock market.
5. Helps him to solve his queries regarding trading or investment.

Thus a stock advisory is something which makes your work easy by providing you tips and recommendations on share market. It is saves a lot of time of yours and you do not need to put your head into the complex process of analyzing the market trend.

Advantages of a Stock advisory

· If you want to try your fate in share market and looking to make money through stock trading, the first and the main thing to learn is how to choose the right stock at the right time. Just like any other business, in stock trading you need to make a business plan which decides how effectively you can choose a stock for trading. A stock advisory is the best place where you can make your investment plans.
· If you are a beginner and want to get information about the market then you can go through several websites which belongs to stock advisories and will help you guiding in this field and to understand the terminologies involved in it.
· It is a good practice for a beginner to start with a small amount. One should not invest all his capital in stock market because the market is so volatile now a days that one can never predict exactly what is going to happen. It is better to consult a professional than to use your own brain.
· A stock advisory brings you a better way to gain from the market.It involves lesser risk and more profit opportunity.

There are so many stock advisory companies which can help you in making money through stock market by providing you sure shot stock tips. Taking tips from such advisories helps you save time and effort in stock trading and also it becomes a risk free process. You can get all sort of stock tips, such as equity tips, commodity tips, Nifty tips, Futures and option tips, intraday stock trading tips from these advisory companies. Some of them also give a free stock tips trial so that you can check the accuracy of the services they are providing.

Mastermind Groups – Harness the Power of an Advisory Board

No business is too small or too large for the owner to benefit from an advisory board. An advisory board is such a powerful management tool that no business owner should be without one.

To be competitive and profitable, your business needs to be hitting on all cylinders. I have yet to meet a business owner that is an expert in all areas of his business and few with the resources to hire experts and consultants.

Moreover, we have discovered that the answers to all business challenges lie within the business owner. A quality advisory board will help elicit those answers and move a business forward. In fact, a study from the Small Business Administration showed that, between 2001 and 2004, business owners with an advisory board grew 44%, while those without one grew 25%.

Think about the last time that you met with other business people and had an open discussion, sharing your ideas and concerns. An advisory board is a formal version of this process. It’s been said that we can share 90% of our business life with almost anyone. It’s the other 10% where a trusted group of advisors can make an enormous difference. Trust, integrity, and mutual respect are the keys to a valuable advisory board.

Unlike a one-time or casual event, your advisory board should be composed of people with a genuine interest in your business, and you in theirs. A desire to see each board member gain clarity will benefit every member of the board. Your advisory board should serve as a sounding board as well as a source of ideas, expertise, and experience. More than anyone else, your advisory board will be on your side and you on theirs. They are people with no agenda and no axe to grind that will want to contribute to the well being of your business. No single person can know everything and “on the fly” advice can often be worse than no advice at all. An advisory board that meets regularly gets to know you and your business in an intimate way and can help you find new ways of thinking and the ability to face various challenges.

But the best aspect of an advisory board is that you can share ideas, concerns, and challenges in a safe, non-judgmental environment with those who are your peers. You will be able to enlarge the view of your business and improve your mission and strategy. You will have new ideas that you hadn’t considered before and gain the ability to measure if you are on the right path or may need to change direction. The bottom line is that you will get better results in a shorter period of time.

For an advisory board to provide a high level of quality to busy business owners, it must posses 5 basic components:

Structure
A working agreement among the board members along with a memorandum of understanding and procedure.

Confidentiality agreements signed. (Imperative as to not compromise the integrity of the group)
Commitment to being active in the group.
An agenda (This will keep the meetings from losing direction and lowering the quality)

An advisory board should aim to have every member of the board commit themselves to supporting, sharing experience with, and respecting all of their fellow board members. Well run advisory boards are truly the secret to running a successful business, even when the business is already successful in its own right.

You will see dramatic improvement in your business when you participate in a well run advisory board. Don’t isolate yourself and convince yourself that you know everything and have no defects. When talking with your advisory board, you will often discover something that was hidden within you until that moment.

Let’s face it; the top is a lonely place sometimes. Business owners often have few ways to get support and guidance. Your employees expect you to have all the answers, but where can you turn when you need help with those answers? That’s where an advisory board can make all the difference.

Think of your advisors as mentors who help you become a more effective business leader. They inspire you to greater leadership heights through their own examples and experiences. They help you get through the tough times. They support and encourage. An advisory board can bring out the best in you.

5 Reasons Why People Prefer HR Advisory Services

Banking and Financial services are two of the most important verticals that contribute to the GDP growth of a nation. Recruiting the right candidates and counselling them on an individual basis for their career in one these fields, is a hectic task for sure. Impartially, anyone can ask HR Advisory service providers who sweat it out to manage client retention & compete as the best ‘Advisory’ for candidates at the same time, how do they manage?

Industrial practices show that there are 5 reasons why business owners prefer HR Advisory services. Primarily, HR Advisory service providers aim to deliver effective solutions to HR department of hiring companies.

They assist companies to revamp HR management systems and practices; maintain consistency with both the company’s requirements and its international partners. Now, coming back to the 5 most essential facts that lead to the hiring of HR Advisory services from an external source are mentioned below:

1) Improved HR management system that is aligned to the environment, needs and culture of the company.
2) HR policies and strategies are clearly defined.
3) HR departments tend to be smarter in adopting international practices than before.
4) 360 review system and performance appraisal system enhancing work performance.
5) Improved reward strategies, payroll system.

Apart from these, companies can always benefit if the outsourcing HR Advisory has:

1) Strong Knowledge Management skills.
2) Large amount of vacancies closed.
3) Strong Team of HR professionals.
4) Leader in all kinds of Hiring, especially Leadership.
5) 100% Client retention and business partners with maximum clientele.

Recruitment and counselling goes hand in hand for most companies. While a client gains an employee, HR Advisory providers gain loyalty from both the client and employee. It is a win-win situation for HR counsellors if practiced in the most ethical manner.

A group of dedicated consultants working closely with the client’s Human Resource and Finance departments ensure co-operation in all aspects of employee welfare that deals with working conditions and resources at workplace. A well-organized and responsive welfare program help employees to meet their professional and personal needs effectively. A good HR Advisory also looks after the health, social security and safety of employees. They also provide trainings and education related to respective designations and establish peaceful relationship between employees to reinforce a better working environment. The scope of HRM services is huge as HR professionals are responsible for Industrial relations, personnel management and also employee welfare in a given timeframe. Looking at the effects of HR outsourcing and Advisory services in both theoretical and practical domain, we see it’s absolutely necessary to hire them for management and retention of Human Resources in any company today.

Using a Training Advisory Board to Guide and Promote Your Training Group

The training director for a large manufacturing company told me about her organization’s advisory board: “It’s pretty worthless. When I started in this position two years ago, my manager, the vice president of human resources, recruited the ten business unit vice presidents to serve on the advisory board. The first couple of meetings were pretty good, but today we’re lucky if five of them show up for any given meeting. We haven’t seen several of them for more than a year.”

“Can you tell me something about the meetings?” I asked.

“We meet on the first Monday morning of each month. We’re supposed to start at 9:30. This gives the members a chance to get in early to check on important messages and such before coming to the meeting. By the time we have everyone here — everyone who is coming, that is — it is usually a little after 10. The afternoon subcommittee meetings are a joke. Half the time, one subcommittee or another has nobody there, and another will have only one person. For all practical purposes, the subcommittees no longer exist.”

“What happens at a typical Monday morning meeting?”

“We start off by presenting the statistics for the past month: student hours, ratings, budget data, and so on. Then we talk about any new programs that have rolled out in the past month and any new ones scheduled for the next month.”

“Is there any discussion?”

“Once in a while, someone will ask a good question about a new program. Most times, the questions focus on trends in enrollment. They also pay a lot of attention to the budget data — how much we are spending and why. Once in a while, someone will pass along a comment about a particular program from one of their employees.”

This company’s advisory board (AB) is basically useless. I don’t blame the no-shows, and I wonder why the others bother to come. But is doesn’t have to be this way. The AB can be a vital strategic tool for any training director, whether managing a one-person shop or a company-wide function with dozens of employees.

Why Have a Training Advisory Board?

If training is to play a key role in helping the company and its employees succeed, it must endeavor to fully understand the company’s business — strategic business directions, core competencies, competitive challenges, new strategic business initiatives, etc. Whether training has one or dozens of employees, it is difficult to keep up with everything that is happening in the company, to understand all aspects of the company’s various businesses, to understand all the competitive issues and pressures. A properly selected AB can provide key insights and understanding for the training group.

At the same time, the AB can act as key advocates for training activities throughout the company. AB members can become sponsors and champions of key training initiatives, and can provide pointers to key knowledge resources inside and outside the company. The AB can provide key linkages throughout the company, helping to ensure that the company’s training resources are being utilized to maximum advantage.

Recruiting Members for your Advisory Board

Who should sit on your company’s Advisory Board? In the earlier example, the AB had a very high-level membership — the vice presidents/general managers from the company’s ten major business units. Membership in some ABs tends to be focused more on functional lines — representatives from sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, etc. In other companies, there is a mix of functional and business unit representation. Some companies recruit AB members, others call for volunteers.

Too often, business leaders consider it merely a matter of corporate citizenship to have a representative on the AB. “Sure, a training Advisory Board is a good idea, and I’ll appoint someone from my group to be on it.” After making this “commitment,” the leader asks his staff, “OK, who has some time available to sit on this board,” without really considering (or caring) who the best representative would be.

In several cases where I have been asked to do a training session for a corporate training advisory board, it became obvious that the people in the room were there because their managers had told them to be there, and not because of any great interest in the work of the advisory board, or even in the general topic of human resource development. An AB with the wrong membership is, at best, not useful and, at worst, a detriment to the achievement of the training group’s goals.

To be an effective member of the AB, a person should have at least the following qualifications:
• A thorough understanding of the business unit or function he/she represents. The AB member should know how his/her function or business operates, what its key challenges and core competencies are, and be involved in the planning and execution of the function’s or unit’s strategic business initiatives. This is the key value that members can bring to the AB: the ability to help training understand the company’s business.
• Credibility in his/her own organization. The AB member should be a person whose opinion carries weight in the organization — “If Mary thinks this new program is a good idea, we should give it a chance.”
• Time and willingness to help, to work with other AB members and with the training staff to fully understand the challenges being faced, and to work cooperatively to develop solutions to those challenges.
• A basic understanding of and belief in the value of knowledge and skills in meeting company, organizational, and individual goals. Too often, ABs count within their membership a number of cynics who don’t believe that the training group can do anything to help the company succeed. Without a reasonable attitude going in, AB members will not be effective and may end up being dysfunctional.

Some training directors feel that the higher the level of AB members, the greater the prestige of the training group in the company. They pressure their own vice president to recruit his/her peers to serve on the AB. While an AB composed of vice presidents can be effective, I believe it more important to ensure that AB members meet the above-stated criteria. Too often, as in the initial example in this paper, vice presidents are too wrapped up in running their own businesses to have enough time or energy to devote to the AB.

It is also important that the training manager personally recruit AB members. The personal relationships between the training manager and AB members are of critical importance. If the training manager leaves selection and recruitment of members to his/her vice president, he/she is missing an important opportunity to start building these relationships.

Catapult Your Success With an Advisory Board (Part I)

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Expert Author T. C. Coleman, Esq.

One of the most powerful ways to experience outrageous success in your business and career is to surround yourself with positive, successful people who inspire and motivate you. Establishing an advisory board is a powerful and highly effective way to build a supportive team that will propel your business to accelerated success. Let’s get started with the basics.

What is an Advisory Board?

An advisory board (a.k.a. Board of Advisors) is a group of seasoned professionals who possess a vested interested in your business and are willing to invest time in cultivating your success.

Who should you invite to join your board?

Experts in areas important for your success. Seek out specialists who have expertise areas like intellectual property, accounting, insurance, marketing, sales, human resources and general corporate transactions.
Experts in areas in which you are weak. Find professionals who can provide insight into areas in which you need additional support such as negotiating deals, sales tactics and managing joint ventures.
Mentors/ Role Models. People who you like, respect and operate companies and model franchises can be fantastic advisory board members.

The most effective members are those from whom you can learn and grow. It is useless to have an advisory board filled with people who will simply agree with your viewpoints and business strategy; therefore, do not waste time inviting people who are unlikely to be candid and objective with you.

Key Traits of Ideal Members:

Seasoned and Successful Professionals/Business Owners. People who have built successful businesses are often interested in contributing to the success of emerging businesses.
Demonstrated Interest in Community/Industry. People who are engaged in the community or industry groups often like to be actively engaged in supporting the success of others.
Retirees. People who are retired are often interested in supporting the growth and development of growing businesses. Retired folks are also often looking for ways to stay active and relevant in the business community.

What is in it for them?

Building Relationships. Once you secure an influential member for your advisory board, you will find that other candidates will be attracted to your advisory board and the added benefit of working with their industry peers. Successful people tend to gravitate to other successful people.
Giving Back. Many successful people have a sincere interest contributing to the success of others. Your job is to demonstrate that your business advisory board is the right opportunity for their investment of time and energy. Developing a high-impact advisory board book is one way to showcase the promise of your company. We will delve into the key components of an effective board book later in this article.
Sense of Value and Pride. One of the best forms of flattery is to ask for someone’s advice and opinion. Being a part of your advisory board offers your members an opportunity to feel really good about adding value to your business and being a central part of your success. Do not underestimate the power of bragging rights.

What are your obligations to your members?

Treat them well. During meetings, sponsor non-alcoholic drinks and light hor d’oeuvres.
Invest in a nice and quiet meeting space. Show your professionalism and high regard for your advisory board members’ by securing a private space for your meetings (e.g, private room in a restaurant or hotel meeting room).
Be prepared. Bring pens, notebooks and copies of your agenda to each meeting. Distribute materials that are important to discuss at the meeting approximately one week prior to the meeting. Be judicious when sending information to your advisory board members, remember these are busy people with limited time … so only send pertinent information.
Stick to the time schedule. During the initial stages, consider limiting your advisory board meetings to one hour per quarter. It is critically important that you stick to your time schedule, regardless of whether or not you address each topic on your agenda. It is your job to develop an agenda that properly allocates time for each item and then manage the agenda. When creating the agenda, be diligent about only including high priority items that are likely to have a significant impact on your business. Advisory board meetings should not turn into open-ended brainstorming meetings – save this for your Mastermind groups.
If you find that certain items take longer than anticipated, adjust your agenda, recognizing that you may not get through all items. You must not exceed your time schedule, regardless of how interesting the conversation around a particular topic. At the end of the meeting, let your members know that you value their time and will table all remaining items until your next meeting. It is important that you adhere to your schedule (and all other things promised) as you build your reputation and creditability with your advisory board and in your community.

BONUS: Although it is not necessary to pay board members a fee, it is a nice gesture to make a charitable contribution after each meeting in the name of your collective board.

Building Advisory Groups For Your Organization

Organizations are not created in a vacuum. They are born and grow within a network of meaningful connections to people and other organizations that allow them to develop and flourish. Sometimes, controlling part of that network and turning it to the organization’s advantage is a more than worthwhile endeavor: this is when advisory groups are established.

What are advisory groups?

Advisory groups are individuals and/or groups of individuals that contribute to the establishment, maintenance and development of an organization. Advisory groups are part of the organizational structure, yet separated from its membership. They’re somewhat in between the role of an external consultancy and an internal auditing team, in their impartial, yet caring, approach to the organization’s issues. They are usually characterized by the variety of its members’ peculiar expertise in organizational issues and/or in the organization’s core activities. They are formally and legally detached from the organization, but they still contribute to it by providing guidance and insight.

What kind of groups are we talking about?

The most common denominations of such advisory groups all centre around the word “advise” (e.g. board of advisors, advisory committee, council of economic advisers). In some other cases, the concept of advisory board overlaps with the concept of “board of directors”: in these cases, the influence of the advisors (a.k.a. board members) is greater than the one they would have as a separate advisory board on their own, although they are still not the ones directly managing the organization, a responsibility that falls instead in the hands of a single person nominated by the board of directors (i.e. the CEO or Executive Director or any similar role). Separating the concepts of “advising” and “directing” clarifies each group’s role within an organization and that is why, in the rest of the article, we’ll consider advisory groups as a separate entity of their own, neither overlapping nor intertwined with any other organizational structure.

Why are they necessary?

There are various reasons why an organization should consider establishing advisory groups. Among them, most important are:

expertise: the people involved are usually experts in their field and can provide valuable counsel on certain issues, when these issues are faced by the organization or the organization’s management team, be it about strategy, crisis management, or anything else related to your nonprofit’s core activities
accountability/self-discipline: reporting to a board of advisors gives to an organization the capacity to account for its own activities to an external body that is not concerned with a specific aspect of the organization, but rather for the organization as a whole; sure, relations with customers/users/members/donors are important, but they all are just a part of the big picture: an advisory group is just like Snow White’s mirror, it reflects what it sees, with an impartial judgement (well, not exactly like Snow White’s mirror then)
long-term memory: in some cases, especially with youth nonprofits where the generational change is rapid and not many members are active in the organization for more than 3-5 years, advisory groups can be the longest standing bodies in place in or around an organization; they are yet another mean to ensure that the collective wisdom of the organization, gathered in a few individuals, stays indeed anchored to a solid bedrock of experts who’ve been in the “business” for a long time

What do advisory groups usually work on?These are some of the possible tasks your organization might ask its advisory groups to focus on:

connecting: due to the decades-long experience of your advisers, it is very likely that their network of people and organization is much broader and influential than yours; group members are valuable in their capacity to connect you to (a) somebody you’d like to connect to, through a credible and authoritative channel or (b) somebody they think might be good for you to know, due to a similarity of interests or activities or challenges faced
clarifying your organization’s identity: when you start up a nonprofit, it’s very hard to get your vision/mission/objectives right the first time you put your mind to it; advisory groups help you by making sure you know what you’re dealing with, either because they have been going through the same processes in their career (i.e. starting a business/nonprofit or rebranding their organization’s identity), or because they’re experts in your nonprofit’s field and know what similar organizations’ visions/missions/objectives are and can help you fit yours among them
improve effectiveness: most likely, your advisers have worked for longer than you have been; they know how to run teams and organizations, they can always shed some light on working procedures, structures and day-to-day management good practices
act as mediators: sometimes issues might arise in your work that require an impartial, yet friendly, point of view; advisory groups are your “go to” resource when you deal with team issues, organizational crises, internal disputes and so on
lend credibility: especially in your start up phase, they can give to your nonprofit the credibility you wouldn’t have otherwise; donors often rely on that to be “insured” against a potentially bad investment in nonprofit activities
provide strategical insights: finally, advisory groups can do what you’d like them mainly to do: advise you on everything and anything!

Benefits and rewards (a.k.a. your costs)

So, we know how important are these groups to us, but what’s in it for them? Most commonly, all the expenses related to the involvement of people in your nonprofit’s advisory groups should be covered by your organization: travel costs (if any), meeting costs, communication costs. If you think it’s necessary, a compensation for their work (something like a yearly salary) can be awarded either to them, or to a charitable organization of their choice. All this, plus of course the intrinsic rewards of serving a cause they believe in, enjoying the challenge of supporting a start up organization and working with people they love working with!

Structure of advisory groups

Here’s where things get complicated. Designing advisory groups is pretty much a skill, rather than an exact science. Once you know what you want out of them and how much can you afford to spend on their maintenance, you’ll know how many groups you need and what will each group do. I have three alternatives in mind so far, but I’d be glad to add more if you have other suggestions:

all-in-one (e.g. Mars Institute): call it “board of advisors”, or “international advisory council” or whatever else; you gather all the people you want recommendations from in a unique group, which takes care of all the tasks I mentioned; all kinds of people are in here, advising you on all kinds of issues at stake
alumni (e.g. Kellog) + other experts: one alumni advisory group, made of former members of your organization (possibly, previous middle and top managers), capturing the past knowledge of your organization (with “long-term memory” as its main role); in addition to that, one group of experts, with outsider knowledge (“expertise” and “accountability/self-discipline” as its main roles) to complement the alumni group in their advisory role
users/customers (e.g. Apple) + other experts: although we’re dealing with nonprofits and not with businesses, sometimes it’s important to focus on our organization’s target group and giving it a voice and a place of its own
honorary members: no team of its own, but simply a group of people that is consulted for specific occasions/reasons, due to their past or current high impact with the organization’s activities

Once the structure is in place, there are two issues that need to be discussed:

coordination with the organization: is there a chairman of the group(s) who regularly keeps in contact with the management team of the organization (option 1 or 2) or is there a responsible within the organization who acts as the advisory groups liaison (options 1, 2 or 3)?
size of the group: proportional to the size of the organization; some resort to a huge variety of advisors, some others to just a couple of them; 3-5 people is enough for a start up nonprofit of small size that has limited resources to spend on advisory groups; also note that size has implications on how often advisors are contacted (i.e. large group, less frequent meetings) or in general on how much the group acts as a team rather than merely as a list of contacts

Communication Regardless of who’s in charge of the communication with the advisory group(s), the following should be taken into account:

updates should be regular and timely, a few times a year, and for ad-hoc situations as well
sometimes letters are a nicer way of communicating with them than emails (it makes them feel like they get the respect they deserve)
clear expectations, goals and objectives of their teams are essential for a fruitful collaboration
and, finally, politeness and capacity to listen and accept their input must transpare in every interaction

Meetings In the first year, you’ll mostly try to meet them during the activities you organize or attend to (e.g. conferences), or you won’t meet them at all, since you won’t be probably able to pay for their travel expenses. Still, you should make sure that every time you meet them around the world, you give them the treatment they deserve (e.g. paying for a dinner out, coffee/tea and refreshments during a meeting, providing them with paper-printed copies of your documents, etc.). When the organization is more mature, you can think of paying for their travel expenses to a yearly (or, every 6 months) full-fledged meeting. In the meetings, make sure to involve all members of the management team (to increase buy-in of the advisors’ insights), follow an agenda that meets determinate objectives and, most importantly, let the advisors advise you, by allowing them to talk a fair share of the time! Who? Finally, the most pressing question of all: who would you invite to take part in those advisory groups? When it comes to characteristics, look for people who complement your management team’s strength and weaknesses and that can be considered a useful (and necessary) extension of your organization (i.e. to extend your network of donors, to extend your knowledge of managerial issues, etc. – you know better your own criteria and needs). Look for those characteristics first of all in the people and groups that have been already working with you in starting up your organization (but try to avoid those who might condition further advancement – e.g. a major donor who wants exclusive cooperation). Develop profiles according to the characteristics you have in mind and simply start contacting the people who match those characteristics, trying to aim for a group with enough diversity to match all profiles. And remember to keep in touch with all the people in your shortlist: even if they’re not ready for such a commitment, they might be up for a hint or two in times of need… you never know!

Nicolò Wojewoda is a graduate student at TU Delft (The Netherlands), involved in youth and international organizations since 2002. He recently co-founded SPEED (Student Platform for Engineering Education Development), a global youth nonprofit and he blogs at [http://nicolowojewoda.com/]

How to Create a Successful Reseller Advisory Board

Whether you call them resellers, channel partners or VARs, if your business model and success is contingent on retaining and attracting resellers (resellers is my naming convention for the purposes of this article) you doubtless know that they are a very vocal group. To a lesser or larger degree, you are reliant on resellers for selling your products and maybe implementation services, too. From a bottom line standpoint you’re giving up margin. Additionally, to a certain degree, you’re also relinquishing your products’ branding since your resellers may frequently be the only face your company has to the customer and prospect.

Cutting through the clutter of your reseller feedback and complaints (and, let’s face it -sometimes whining), is no easy task. There is no science to evaluating and managing all these communications from your channel and it’s hard to make any truly sound business decisions based on a potentially qualitative but somewhat nebulous set of feedback. For instance, your sales managers may give you isolated, anecdotal examples of what a couple of channel partners (or maybe even just one key channel partner) are hearing from your customers. Remember: at the end of the day, whether you sell direct or through a channel partner, the customers who buy your products are YOUR customers.

A Reseller Advisory Board can be an invaluable springboard for tapping those closest to the sale on what your customers and prospects are saying about your products, getting critical advice on upcoming releases or strategic business decisions as well as enhancing channel relations.

You may already have a Reseller Advisory Board or are thinking about creating one. From my own personal corporate experience in highly-dependent reseller revenue models, there is a right way to getting the maximum desired results and some noteworthy traps to avoid.

At this point, it is important to note that a Customer Advisory Board is a very different animal than a Reseller Advisory Board. Most notable is that a customer rarely has a hidden agenda in the way that a reseller might. If conducted correctly, a Customer Advisory Board will almost always be a productive exercise with honest, actionable feedback. Reseller Advisory Boards can provide the same gains to your company’s external knowledge set but are far more susceptible to pitfalls.

Avoid these pitfalls when establishing your Reseller Advisory board:

Picking/electing too many of your more “popular” resellers for your Advisory Board: Don’t default to your most vocal resellers or those that make up your classic 80/20 revenue production. Likewise, don’t be tempted to solicit resellers that you know will give you “nod” feedback. Mix up the audience. Change the advisory board members every year. A caveat; you may want to retain one or two key resellers who have continually participated and provided meaningful feedback.

Pick reseller partners who follow the rules of engagement (register leads, pay you on time, and don’t have an overly aggressive personal agenda). Make the appointment to the Board somewhat official (without legal obligations).

A “soft” agenda: Your Reseller Advisory Board meetings should not be a dog-and-pony show. Carefully consider the issues you and your partners are facing together. Be honest – if a product release is seriously compromised, the agenda should address that. Ask them for their opinion on how to proceed. The right agenda and invited company participants is key.

Real life example: One of my most embarrassing moments at a Reseller Advisory Board was when I held a senior marketing position with a $1b company. I was asked to present our marketing past and future initiatives and key learning. I had doubts from the get-go about the real value of my presenting the content that the Executive team asked me to craft. My presentation contained defensible statistics on increased leads we were providing for our resellers. My PPT slides, data points and statistics had been vetted by our Executive Management prior to the Advisory Board meeting. After the fact, I knew that I had good reason to trust my intuition. On the day of the meeting it was evident that not every reseller in the room was getting more leads. What was clearly missing from our discussion/agenda was a discussion about our sales department’s somewhat arbitrary lead distribution methods. Lesson learned.

Resellers have their own agendas. It’s understood. They are independent businesses that have a synergistic relationship with your company that can create fuzzy lines. Their focus is on their own bottom lines, not yours. A successful Reseller Advisory Board should mitigate personal agendas as much as possible and be mediated according to a fixed agenda that creates maximum objective feedback on the business critical initiatives that affect both the company and the reseller channel.

An unprofessionally organized meeting: For any Reseller Advisory Board to deliver on expectations for both the company and the advisory board members it is important to follow some basic rules. Establish the frequency of the meetings (whether quarterly or twice a year) and stick to it! Notify the advisory board members well in advance of the day, time, and location of the next meeting. Hold the meeting in a professional setting – that could be your company’s office or an off-site meeting facility either near your offices or remotely if the members require a mutually convenient geographic location.

Do use A/V presentations and provide the advisory board members with a hard copy of the presentations. Designate someone within your company to take minutes! Conduct the meeting with respect for everyone’s time and moderate effectively so that the meeting doesn’t go off topic or one person is hogging too much “air time.” Politely, but firmly, divert the conversation if it is devolving into a whine session or if your reseller board members are becoming antagonistic with each other.

Irregular meeting schedule: Nothing reduces the credibility of a Reseller Advisory Board more than postponing or cancelling regularly scheduled meetings. I reiterate: establish the frequency of the meetings and stick to it!

Being unaware of the perceptions of the rest of your channel: Be very upfront in reseller communications that you have, or are establishing a Reseller Advisory Board. Many resellers may be suspicious about why they weren’t chosen or what is being discussed in these meetings. Negate any mistrust by outlining for all of your resellers the goals of the Reseller Advisory Board.

Feedback not communicated to the rest of your reseller channel/company: Not everything that is discussed during the Reseller Advisory Board meetings needs to be communicated to the outside world. Parse the meeting notes for relevant topics and board member feedback that translates into actionable items for your company. Communicate that information to your reseller community through follow up group reseller conference calls or web casts.

A Reseller Advisory Board requires commitment and forethought. Managed correctly, it can provide your company with a productive avenue to increased reseller engagement and partnership. Engaged resellers ultimately mean more focus on your products and more focus equates to more sales.

How to Use an Advisory Board to Make You More Productive

An advisory board is a group of people that advises the management of a company. Unlike a Board of Directors an advisory board does not have authority to vote on corporate matters, nor a have legal fiduciary responsibility. This dramatically reduces the cost of corporate governance. Many private businesses choose to be in such groups in order to benefit from the knowledge of others, without the expense, formality or corporate governance issues of a Board of Directors.

So what is an advisory board?

An advisory board is basically a group of people who you meet with on a regular basis to help you run your business. It can be a group you have organised yourself, a self-help group or a group of managing directors organised by a third party.

So how does an advisory board make your corporate governance process more productive and cost effective?

Corporate Governance: Running a business in today’s rapidly changing world is complex and often needs expertise in a wide range of areas. It is virtually impossible for one person to have all the required skills and knowledge. This is why managing directors and shareholders have a board of directors including non-executive directors. However, in UK law there is no difference in liability between an executive director and a non-executive director. They both have the same fiduciary responsibility. Therefore, it is expensive to recruit non-executive directors as you have to pay them to spend time on their corporate responsibilities as well as advising you.

In addition, a non-executive director is responsible to the shareholders rather than to the other members of the board including the managing director who may have hired them. This means that they can become a barrier or issue themselves rather than an asset as they have rights and responsibilities.

Reduced board of directors: An advisory board is made up of managing directors of non-competing companies which means that you can reduce the size of your own board of directors as within the advisory board there will be a wide range of skills and experience. That means you only need to employ quality senior managers rather than board level directors and the cost and responsibilities that go with that.

Different Perspectives: An advisory board brings with it a wide range of experiences and perspectives. Many business ills are the similar across industries with each sector resolving these challenges in their own way. What this means if your advisory board is sufficiently varied is that other members of your board may have solved your problem using a different approach that may work for you.

Cost effective: Typically it costs the same to join a managed advisory board as it does to employ one non-executive director. A typical board can have between 12-15 members which means that in terms of value you will have 15 heads working on your challenges and opportunities rather than the one if you employed a non-executive director.

More productive: With a non-executive director you will have one person thinking about your problem. With an advisory board you will up to 15 other people working on it. This means you will have a wider choice of ideas to work on and develop. Also, in challenging times this means you will be able to tap into 15 networks as opposed to one with a non-executive director if you need access to finance or specialist help. This means you will be more productive as you will get to answers or route to answers faster and more efficiently than you have in the past.

Structured learning: Advisory boards organised by others often have workshops for structured learning as it is often cost-effective to bring in world class speakers to help you develop your skills and understanding of the latest business tools and thinking.

Structured problem solving: Advisory boards run by others have structured problem solving sessions so that if you have a challenging problem where there is no clear answer or even process for resolving it then the group’s expert facilitator or chair can provide a structured environment to help you unpack the problem and think through the actions needed to work towards its resolution.

Share difficult issues: An advisory board is working on your behalf and so if you have an issue with a fellow director or shareholder then the advisory group is likely to be the only place where you can share the issue in confidence and receive a sympathetic and understanding ear.

So when you are looking to grow your company and you considering recruiting either an executive or non-executive director, first consider whether an advisory board would a more productive and cost effective option.