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An Advisory Board is a Great Idea for Every Startup

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Creating an advisory board is a critical task for a startup. This group of individuals can help a startup founder realize his or her vision. Forbes offers ways for a startup to approach the creation of an advisory board.

An entrepreneurial mind-set isn’t all a startup needs to get up and running. A startup can benefit greatly from the wise counsel and advice of a well-rounded and diverse advisory board.

The First Step Toward an Advisory Board

As an entrepreneur begins to build out a board and advisors, he or she may seek out a group of people with specific industry expertise and skills.

Although these are desirable attributes, a startup founder should look for personality types “that lend themselves to patience, flexibility. and nerves of steel,” Forbes says. While these characteristics may sound similar or even overlap, a startup entrepreneur needs advisors who believe in the company’s mission and vision. In addition, they should have the experience to counsel him or her through the ups and downs of that mission.

Recruiting

The ability to recruit is an essential attribute for board members in an early-stage startup. A startup entrepreneur must have individuals in his or her corner who are well-connected with both the required talent and desired investors.

Advisory Board Talent
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A solid and well-established advisory board gives a startup entrepreneur links to areas where he or she may not have visibility. It also gives him or her exposure to executives who’ve experienced similar obstacles, issues, and challenges. This type of advisory board also has the wherewithal to attract investors who will keep the company going.

The price to be paid for a bad hire in an early-stage startup is immeasurable. Board members who have access to talent and not merely other investors can be invaluable.

Foundational Activity

Foundational activity for an organization requires a specific set of expertise, but it is also important to find help in growing the business.

A startup doesn’t require a brand new board at each phase of growth. Instead, a startup entrepreneur should seek to expand the advisory board as the company’s needs evolve. A startup’s early-stage supporters can help troubleshoot and navigate challenges, including those related to recruiting and financial resources.

Where are the Gaps?

A startup entrepreneur should next determine in-house expertise gaps that could be addressed by a veteran board member. The types of people to seek at this stage have experience in commercialization, scale, growth. In addition, it helps to find members who can navigate implementation challenges and regulatory considerations.

Remember that an advisory board should not be comprised of yes-men and women who are brought on as cheerleaders and fans. A startup entrepreneur should look for a board with a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds.

Look for a Diverse Group of Advisory Board Members

It might be easier to grab a bunch of fellow investors. But instead, try to reach out to economists, community leaders, customer advocates, and other professionals. The more well-rounded the perspective of your board, the more well-rounded approach the startup will have.

Finally, a startup entrepreneur should be truthful and realistic about the gaps in the company’s functional expertise. This is vital to rounding out the board. This entails attracting individuals with substantial experience in navigating  future regulatory challenges. A startup founder may also want to bring aboard a person with extensive commercialization experience and a comprehensive industry network.

This is the point where it’s desirable to attract board members who understand the space in which the startup operates, and who have a proven track record of reshaping or influencing the way the industry works. While it’s fantastic to have an “insider” who knows how the system works, an advisory board should also be willing to do things differently.

A strong advisory board helps a startup founder realize the full potential of his or her company and plot a course for the journey.

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