Maintaining Confidentiality While Getting Advice

Dear M & M:

I have been in business for several years. There have been times when I needed to bounce some ideas off of someone else.  Do you have any thoughts on how to do this and still maintain confidentiality?


Dear Robert:

Besides keeping conversations confidential a person wants to explore different parts of your business with someone able to give you sound advice. Creating an informal advisory board might be just the solution you are looking for.

Unlike a board of directors who may have legal and fiduciary responsibilities, advisory boards can be set up informally. Look for advisors who have varying backgrounds or experience. Industry experts, marketing backgrounds, accounting backgrounds, grant writers and finance backgrounds are some areas you might consider.

If you have a need for human resource, legal or other specialized advice make sure you include someone on your advisory board that has experience or training in that area. Meet quarterly to start. Hold the meetings in a place where you can have privacy.

If possible make the meetings concise and create an agenda so your advisory board knows what you are concentrating on. I am not saying you need to put people up in an expensive hotel and wine and dine them, but make it pleasant and enjoyable as possible.

Try putting something in the agenda that they would enjoy. After you have presented the information, listen to their advice and come up with your own solutions.  I can promise you one thing.

You will hear different perspectives if you choose a diverse advisory board, that has knowledge in key areas, with people willing to share their expertise. Remember it isn’t an informal gathering to socialize. It is forming a group of knowledgeable experienced people willing to help you solve or explore other options in your business.

The largest companies on throughout the world have many advisory boards to help them make decisions. Why shouldn’t you?


To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email


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