When and How to Assemble an Advisory Board

By KATHY KARA

Assembling an advisory board is critical to a company, especially for a new company. A strong advisory board can help to lend credibility to a new business, help to build contacts, and serve to provide feedback for the business.

An advisory board may be valuable to your company because they have a different perspective than the members of your company who are involved in the day-to-day activities in the business. The advisory board, while having a vested interest in the business, is not typically bound to the same restrictions as other employees, such as members of management and directors of the company. This allows members of the advisory board the freedom to provide valuable, critical feedback a business may not otherwise receive.

Follow these steps to assemble a successful advisory board:

  • Include several members who are seasoned management professionals. Board members with management experience may provide valuable input regarding how to manage the company.
  • The business would benefit from a board of advisors who are well connected. Having and building contacts can help to build and expand the business. Having contacts may also prove beneficial if you need to raise funds and acquire investors for the business.
  • A balance of board members with different backgrounds and who come from different industries may also benefit your company. For instance, including members with law, academic, and business backgrounds makes for a diverse group of advisors who can offer their experience and input from different and useful perspectives.
  • You may want to appoint two or three people who have served on members of advisory boards before because they have the experience of working in the position.
  • Choose members who complement your experience and suit the needs of the business. For instance, if your background is in business, you may need someone with technical skills and knowledge. If your strong suit is not finance, ask someone with a background in finance to be a member of the advisory board.
  • Be clear to the members you appoint about your intentions and needs. People who agree to be a part of an advisory board usually do so to help out. Respect their time and offer a fee or some compensation. Plan meetings and what you wish to accomplish during each meeting and over a set period, such as within six months or a year.
  • A good advisory board will offer honest feedback regarding your company. Know what you would like to accomplish with your business, make your goals clear to the advisory board, and a well-appointed group of advisors will be an asset to your business development.
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