Advisory Boards – 5 Tips on Picking Winners

My good friend and lawyer of nearly 20 years, Andrew Sherman, recently posted in WashingtonExec about Guidelines for Establishing Advisory Boards.  I wanted to weigh in with FIVE TIPS on picking WINNERS for your Advisory Board.

1.  Know what you need to build your business, and find Advisors who fill these needs.  Advisors are resources which can help in all aspects of your growth.  What do you need?  Do you need marketing experts, recruiting experience, sales or legal advice, capital formation ideas, M&A or investment banking pros?  Take an inventory of where you are lacking and fill these gaps with great Advisors.

2.  Pick Advisors who have capability, experience, and networks.  You want to win, and winning takes talent.  Advisors who have the skills and expertise have “been there” and “done that,” and these are the kinds of people who can save you immeasurable money and time.  I like Advisors who are superconnectors, people who can help make game-changing introductions for you, whether it’s to a potential customer, a superstar sales manager, a business partner, etc.  An Advisor with a big network is a tremendous resource you can leverage to accelerate your growth.

3.  Pick Advisors who match up with your corporate culture and personal values, with a shared passion for what you are trying to achieve.  You are building a team, and the best teams, be they a football team, a Navy SEAL team, or a startup, have great chemistry.  Make sure your Advisors share your goals, your vision and values.

4.  Pick Advisors who have the TIME and inclination to help you.  A big name may look good on paper, or impress the VCs, but you want someone who is going to take the time and work with you, guide you, and even advocate for you.  It’s important to discuss time commitment and Advisor aspirations when bringing an Advisor on board.

5.  Make the relationship “Win Win.”  So what’s in it for your Advisors?  Advisors help out entrepreneurs for any variety of reasons:  they like mentoring startups, they may love your business idea or technology, they want to learn something, they like you personally, they like the comp and stock option package you are offering them, etc.  These are just some of many potential WIIFMs that would attract an Advisor to your company. Talk openly and honestly about this with your Advisor and make the relationship work!

In the future, I plan to write more about Advisory Boards, covering topics such as expectations, compensation, and thoughts on how to leverage this very important asset.

What other tips do you think are important in selecting the best Advisory Board candidates for your business?  Please add your comments below.  Thanks for reading and SUBSCRIBING too.

Featured image courtesy of Equititrend Advisors LLC licensed via creative commons.


5 thoughts on “Advisory Boards – 5 Tips on Picking Winners

  1. I’m really looking forward to reading more on this topic. Thanks for including your friend’s link. I like how he laid out the differences b/t Board and Advisory Board.

    Keep em coming!


  2. Tien – Great tips as a follow on to your tips via email. I am certainly interested in knowing more about what expectations to set in place, compensation, etc. when you write about them.


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