How to set up a Board of Advisors for a small 10 person consulting company?
We're thinking about setting up a Board of Advisors to help achieve our business development goals. Does anyone have advice on this, or experience they'd like to share?
Look to your own network first. Who do you see as a mentor(s) and ask them who they have in their network. If you are looking for sound advise and not looking to hire consultants which in my mind is what a Board of Advisors is, then tie into your network, it will not only get you great advisors, but might also help build your business.
It depends on your arena of work. You should normally have specialists on your board, they need to bring something to the table and also show up for meetings. The board comes with status, advisors need to be recognized and praised. My experience is with non profit in the entertainment field, but it is all the same to me. Normally professors, lawyers and financial advisors make great board members but so do small business owners, celebrities and rising stars. Where is the business and is what areas do you plan on consulting?
Having served on several boards of non-profits and arts organizations, I have always found it good to get people who have vision for the organization...Nothing like stagnant board members who fight progress...It is also good to have folks with strong ties to the community, but also certain types of people are needed as well...Most boards have at least one accountant, lawyer, and community leader on their boards......Also believe it is good to have folks with ties to Junior Leagues, Jaycees, and other social organizations so you can try and tap into their resources as well as corporate types who believe in the mission of the organization...
One of the successful manner to find advisors for Board of Advisors is to ask your client / customer base to make an appointment to see their boss, invite the person for quick lunch and bring up the subject of achieving your business developmental goals. When they see it matches their interest or skill sets that they may be contribute, they would be honored to be a part of a mutually benefit relationship. Make sure deliver a clear message about the Board's mission, vision, other advisors, and what their image you want them to project. Then most importantly "Follow-up" ask them to join the Board of Advisors. Lastly ask them if they can recommend someone they respect or friend they could suggest as potential advisors. Develop a running name list until you accomplish your purpose of setting up a Board of Advisors for any type of business or 10 person consulting company..
Wow! What an exciting topic. i am coming in a little late, however I would like to comment.
Everyone here has offered tremendous valuable information. Everyone is spot on with their advice.
For us, as we have been building our business, most of our focus has been on streamlining our companies, so having a “team” as our advisors has been critical.
The roles of each Advisor you bring to your team has to be in the strength in which is needed within your organization. Each Advisor has to have a specific function and clear expectation with the skills needed to match up with your vision and your journey within your business. It’s good to sit down and write down the specific help you need. And you match up the person you know who will get you there.
For example if you need help with strategy and you know someone who is good with strategizing, then you approach them with that specific job. Same with marketing, development, quality control, all of it.
When you get there, back your talk with commitment. The relationships are there, but committing is huge. The productivity comes from the way both sides drive the business machine to reach the goals you have set this Advisory Board up to do.
Otherwise, everyone who has posted has given a little bit of their knowledge that can help you move forward...and hopefully help you fine tune your strategy for this Advisory Board.
I wish you business success!
That is a very complicated question and I think you meant it to be simple.
You need to look at what you really want out of the advisors?
1. Do you want to defer decision making abilities or have a sounding board
2. Do you want industry experts, business experts, technology experts?
3. How much will you rely on them, or will they be more for oversight?
In addition, some general things to consider:
1. Where do you want to grow?
2. How involved in the operations and the vision do you want to be? If you want to be responsible for growth and work, and leave vision to someone else, then your team of advisors is different.
3. Are you looking for investors now or in the future?
4. How you will compensate them? There's more ways than just pure compensation that top advisors will look at?
Also, what are you trying to accomplish with this. You said business development. Business development can mean many things. If I was to make an analysis, I'm guessing you're looking for people who bring contacts. So you'll have to have a solid business plan, a solid marketing plan, and a solid vision and execution plan.
In addition, having a board of advisors is your tactic, it's your process. What really is your overall strategy? Why do you need a board of advisors to help with business development? How does it fit in with your strategic plan? You need to answer these questions before you can answer anything else.
Unlike a board of directors, (formal legal authority over a company) and a fiduciary duty to its stockholders, the advisory board won't make decisions for you. Solicit candidates with a two or three page prospectus describing the business. Explain why you want a board and what you're looking for. Then detail how it will operate, and its structure; including compensation (if any) and the length of time you want that person to service. Please make sure you explain that this venture is exploratory (you want to make sure they are a good fit).They should be able to jell with other board members (including you). The board should meet 3 to 4 times per year, in a professional setting. Make sure you put the agenda in writing, and state clearly what you expect the board to contribute at each session. Remember, they are there to give advice
I would start the process by defining your company's key success factors -- the characteristics that most determine whether the business will thrive and the strategic challenges the company will face. You stated that the advisory board was for a consultant company (Service) I would suggest two or of your three outside advisers be from service businesses. (The advisory board should be at the level you want to go to, rather than the level you're at,")
Don't recruit highly visible executive from a big company. Choose people that are just above where you want to be. If you projected sales are 2 million, then seek a person or persons with a company just above that (3 to 5 million).
Last but not least, each board member, by name, should also receive written indemnification, and they should sign a nondisclosure agreement.
I hope this information was helpful.
How and how many people you need to get involved depends on what your business goals are?
For a team of 10 consultants you probably don't want another 10 consultants.
At a very basic level, you are seeking a solution for problem(s) your are encountering. An advisor is not someone that provides you a solution like provide you with contacts or increase your network.
An advisor should provide insight/critic to your projections and plans for solutions.
The advisor should provide guidance either by suggesting approaches to a solution or sharing experiences where a particular approach is or is not optimum.
In short, by listing the problems you believe you need or the aswers that need validation you will be in position to determine who should you seek to help and the whorth of the advice.
My two cents...
Excellent short article here that summarizes some experience.
I'm my experience the most important factor is that the advisors share core values that are aligned with the company's - and when they are also shareholders or board members that they share similar goals. I've seen many companies flounder because some board members for example, are focused on exit while others desire growth - all had great expertise in the various areas others here have commented on - but in the end the lack of shared values and desired outcomes made their advice at odds with the founder's goal.
The first quesiton I would ask is where are the gaps in your team of 10? After the identification of the gaps, search your contact lists for those whose styles will fit with your group and support the "soft side" of your organization.
One cautionary note, objectivity is extremely important, particularly when dealing with long term acquaintences.