This is entirely sensible for many privately owned businesses and in any event can be changed into a formal appointment at any stage if there is a reason to do so and both parties agree. The more important point from our point of view is not the status of the appointment, it is the role that is played. Someone who brings the fresh perspective and new thinking; someone who plays devil’s advocate and acts as a sounding board; someone who’s not afraid to challenge or ask the stupid question that no one else will; someone who’s not involved in the nitty gritty detail and doesn’t have executive responsibilities; and someone with great experience which is relevant and of value to the business concerned.
Typically (although there is no blanket rule) a board advisor is more applicable to a small business and a non-executive director to a medium sized business. Often with very small businesses we put in board advisors who only spend about half a day a month with the business – this however is plenty long enough to provide good support and input and add real value and of course it keeps the cost to a minimum and therefore affordable to even the smallest of businesses.
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