Having an advisory board with people who have been there, done that, can help you avoid a lot of mistakes and steer your company in the right direction. When it comes time to put together an advisory board it needs to be a thoughtful process. We asked eight entrepreneurs their advice on how to pick the best people for their advisory board.
Target Work Horses, Not Fancy Titles
The most common mistake I see new entrepreneurs make when putting together an advisory board is shooting for the moon. I'm all for being ambitious, but the reality is you'll get much more help from people who'll commit to meeting with you regularly, and will roll up their sleeves when necessary. Choose advisors who have a strong bias for action.
Fan Bi of Blank Label
Identify Your Own Weaknesses
Figure out your businesses weaknesses and make sure that the advisors you select have both experience and can provide true value. Once you’ve identified these individuals, depending on the circumstances, you could consider providing equity, cash or benefits. We went the equity route and it’s worked out well for us. Each situation is different, so see what works best for your business.
Hesam Maskat of Guzu
Identify Based on Diversity of Skill Set
The key to forming an outstanding advisory board is to understand the value of the board is only as valuable as the diversity of skills of its board members. You should have an advisory board that can offer critical skills such as finance and marketing. In addition, depending on your goals you'll want to have one or more members who have experience building (and selling) large businesses.
Obinna Ekezie of Wakanow
Recuit Proven Passion
You have a great idea and passion to pursue it. Now you need to find advisors. Start with people who have already ‘made it' in your vertical. Those leaders possess the knowledge that you need and experience that will add the most value to your company. Ask for help and you'll find out quickly which people are worth a spot on the board.
Anthony Johnson of American Injury Attorney Group
Determine the Goals of Your Advisory Board First
Once you've determined the goals of your advisory board, select individuals who will be valuable to the board and passionate about the project based on their experience. Introduce your candidates to the idea and if you've chosen wisely, they should express interest and may even request to be a member of the board.
Andrew Namminga of Andesign
Look for Passion and Previous Experience
Look for someone who is experienced and an expert in the same industry with strong connections and extensive knowledge. They should be passionate about your idea and willing to put in their own cash for success. This experience and knowledge can help guide you in right direction to avoid costly mistakes.
Parveen Panwar of Vidaptiv
Look for People Interested in Equity
The best advisory board members have more opportunities than they have time to fit into their busy schedules. If you want to land a rockstar advisory board member, you may need to offer them 0.1 to 1.0 percent of your company's equity on a two-year vesting schedule depending on how big of a household name or expert they are and the amount of time and resources they are willing to commit to your company.
Doug Bend of Doug Bend Law Group
Ask the First Person You'd Want to Test Your Idea With
Asking someone to be an advisor should be the second step, the first is getting a meeting to just ‘gut check' what you are doing and get their candid feedback. Once they're bought into the idea, you'll find they'll be more interested in getting involved.
Tammy Lee Kahn of InSegment