Having a board of advisors for your business is a truly valuable asset. The board of advisors is composed of individuals who are experts in pertinent fields, and they are there to help your company attain its goals and even shift directions if needed. They give sound advice to help shape your decisions, and they work as mentors to guide you as you lead the company towards success. The board of advisors is different from the board of directors, in that the former are not legally bound to your company and you don’t have any obligation to strictly follow their advice. As the term implies, the board of advisors are there in their capacity as consultants to give you advice if you so require.
- Consider your company’s goals and vision. Your goals for your company should be the landmark all your efforts and endeavors are channeled towards. Brainstorm of the current needs of your company, as well as the improvements that you are planning. Write this all down.
- Know whom to get. A general guideline to help you with your choice is this: you would want to get advisors who have had experience going through the same challenges that your company is currently going through. Their level of experience should represent the level of just where you want your company to head. For example, if your main goal for your company is to increase market sales by up to 50%, look for individuals who have successfully led other companies towards this same endeavor.
- Know whom not to get. It’s important that you find advisors who aren’t emotionally involved in your business, such as friends or family members. There’s a certain danger to this, since their decisions could be tempered with bias. Also, it’s a good idea to find impartial advisors, or those who aren’t stakeholders to your company. To be more specific, these are people who have other businesses, and they aren’t making a living from your business. The advantage to this is that they will give clear, level-headed advice that stems from their own experiences and not to answer their personal interests.
- Create a balanced team. This means that you should know how many advisors you would need to create synergy during discussions and brainstorming sessions. The board of advisors should complement each other and not be too similar that they would just echo one another’s ideas and insights. You could also create balance wherein some of your advisors are outsiders (see number 3), while some will have extensive, insider knowledge of your company. Usually about five advisors are adequate.
- Once you’ve created a shortlist of candidates you’re interested in hiring as advisors, present to them a short but comprehensive proposal. This proposal should describe your business, your immediate and long-term plans for your business, and how their expertise could help. If the candidates you would want to be advisors are not available, you could ask them for a list of references. Also, it’s a good idea to have one-year contract terms (maximum) for your advisors, so that you would have the option to not rehire them. It’s good to be able to constantly bring in new advisors who would add fresh perspectives and ideas to your company.
There you have it! These are just some of the tips to assemble a board of advisors. Do know that just because you are the owner or head of a company doesn’t mean you have to make all the decisions alone. Learn from the experiences of others, and think of yourself as a student being under the guidance of your mentors. It will definitely do you and your company well to have the best mentors out there. Good luck!