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What Is a Board of Advisors?
Advisory board members are a sounding board and a guiding council for a company’s chief executive officer and/or co-founders, providing insight on strategic direction and weighing in on business development. It can be a formal board, like a board of directors, or an informal group, such as an advisory committee. The key to assembling a good board of advisors is respect and trust: you’ve got to respect what they achieved in their own business journey and trust what they might have to say about yours.
What Are the Benefits to Having a Board of Advisors?
The foremost benefit of an objective board of advisors is the mix of opinions that are brought to the table. By capturing a diverse group of experiences and perspectives in the decision-making process, you’re guaranteed a more expansive and considered position.
Members of the board can also supply specialized background knowledge that might be missing from the management team—from legal advice to marketing techniques and fundraising connections to venture capitalists. Staggered term limits can keep things fresh and track along with the needs of the business.
How to Find a Board of Advisors
- Reach out to your peers. This is the time to have friends in high (and low, and middle) places. Think of it as a networking exercise: Seek out peers in your business community and ask them to sit in on your board meetings—in exchange, you can offer your own time and thoughts to their governing board. Not only will it build trust, but it will also give you a grasp on the inner workings and challenges of another business, which is invaluable to your own continuing education.
- Join an advisory program. If ideal peer board members are thin on the ground, there are often membership programs that assemble them for you, curated from businesses of similar size and stage of growth as your own.
- Pay for expertise. If there are specific people you’re looking to bring on—often, a board stacked with illustrious members can be a useful marketing tactic—you can pay for their time and expertise. While it’s likely the most expensive option, you can have confidence that you receive the insight and strategic advice you were hoping for without needing to offer something in return.
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