How to Create an Advisory Board (2022 Update)

Mar 12, 2021
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written by Dominic Woolrych

Often in business we want to create things or act on something as soon as possible for fear of missing an opportunity. However, similar to the way you chose the directors on your board, you want to make sure you are careful and meticulous about the people you invite to become formal advisors. As with any business relationship, you need to be certain that your advisors have your business’ best interest in mind. In this article, we’ll explain how to create an Advisory Board and what to keep in mind along the way.

Key points

  • Setting up an advisory board will help you manage your business with the guidance of experts
  • This can mean the difference between your business stagnating or taking it to the next level
  • The most important part is choosing the right members to be on the Board

Advisory Boards

It’s not only multi-national companies that have Advisory Boards. An Advisory Board is an appointed panel of experts, either from business itself or the field your business operates in. An Advisory Board can provide crucial guidance in areas such as:

  • Growing and expanding the business
  • New initiatives
  • The purpose of the business

How to establish your Advisory Board

1.     Choose your members wisely

Identify skill sets that are missing from your senior management.  Seek professionals out with these skills. You can find members at a chamber of commerce, through advertising or by using your existing corporate networks.  Try not to use family or friends as they may not always be able to be objective. The ‘right’ number of advisors for your business will depend on many factors, including the size, workforce and stage that your business is at. For a small to medium sized business, 3 people is an ideal amount. You want to avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen. When it comes to what will influence your business decisions, go for quality over quantity. Once you have found the right members, create an Advisory Board Member’s Agreement to clearly set out the length, remuneration and scope of the advisor’s term.

2.     Set expectations clearly

Provide your advisors with goals and expectations of their role. It is often a good idea to create an advisory board handbook. This will entail how often meetings are to occur and precise objectives. It’s also important to set out any limitations that you might have. The key here is to start the advisor relationship on clear terms. This will help to prevent future disagreements or any confusion about the scope of an advisor’s role. It will also allow the advisor to give you focused advice.

3.     Compensate your Advisory Board

Compensation can vary depending on the level of expertise and experience that the advisor is bringing to the table.  Compensation can be in the form of payment, stock options (equity), or simply covering the advisor’s expenses. The experience of being on an advisory board can also benefit the members, which is sometimes a motivator for advisors to offer their expertise free of charge. The advisor relationship is not one of an employee which is why an Advisory Board Member’s Agreement is vital to set out in plain terms the nature and scope of the advisors’ role as well as the agreed remuneration.

4.     Get the most out of your Board

The time that you have with your advisory board is precious and should be utilised to the fullest. This is particularly true if your advisors are volunteering their time and skills. Plan and prepare for meetings, run meetings professionally and provide the advisory board with an agenda before the meeting. This will save time and mean you can get stuck into the substance of your current challenges.  It is also important to respect the board’s contributions. You can do this by following up the meeting with an action plan or a summary of actions that you have taken.

If you’re ready to establish an advisory board for your business or startup, you can use our Advisory Board Member’s Agreement.

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