How to find the right advisers for the Board?

Working with business and nonprofit organizations, I am passionate about helping companies assemble and implement high-performing advisory boards. Below are my insights on selecting members for the company advisory board.

How important is an advisory board be for a startup?

An advisory board should be a top priority for a startup. It points to a higher degree of accountability. An advisory board brings experienced individuals to the table to provide guidance to the founders, who usually have a great vision, but limited business knowledge.

What do Board members need to look for when selecting advisers?

Ideally, the advisers should have complementary skill sets that fill in the gaps in the Board of Directors. They also have to have the time and desire to commit to the new company.

How should startups engage their advisers?

The advisory-board search process should include a document that outlines the roles and responsibilities of the adviser. It should contain duties, roles and responsibilities, compensation, expectations for communication and meeting attendance, as well as the guidelines for termination and separation. Once the adviser is in place, there should be a set structure for all meetings, and an understanding of how advisers will communicate with the Board between meetings.

What should the length of service be for advisers?

At least once year. There is usually a yearly evaluation and an annual election and reelection of advisers. The Board should evaluate advisers on their contribution and performance every year.

How should someone determine if the adviser is the right fit for the company?

The adviser who is the right fit for your organization primarily depends on the kind of assistance you need. The adviser must share values and culture with your company in order to make the most impact. It’s human nature for people to gravitate toward people with similar goals and values. Find out how your organization fits the adviser’s goals.

How much time does an advisory-board position require?

It varies by circumstances. A typical startup may require meeting with the advisory board every moth while a well-established company may only want to convene the advisory board a couple of times a year or once a quarter. Before asking individuals to serve on an advisory board, decide how many times the Bard will need to meet with them.

What’s the best criteria for selecting a board adviser?

Startups should select people who are motivated to share their knowledge and derive joy from helping companies succeed from their experience. Look for experts who are ready to “give back.” Not every professional will make a good fit for an advisory board. Get to know the potential advisers before asking them to join the advisory board.

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