All the information sources advising people who are starting businesses recommend forming an advisory board. Yet, this is advice is ignored by a surprising number of new entrepreneurs. Perhaps they don’t understand the role of the advisory board and how it can help the business succeed. Perhaps they believe they can get answers to any business questions online. The Web has made it easier to find information, to be sure, but it doesn’t guarantee quality information, and it doesn’t take your individual business needs into consideration.
A minimum set of advisors should include a financial/tax advisor and a legal advisor. And if there are other areas of expertise that you lack, you need to find an advisor who can help you there. After all, you’re not going to have a large management team when you start out, and it is valuable to bounce ideas off others who have experience you lack. It’s best if your advisors can meet as a group so you can see if there is consensus or not.
Get started forming your own advisory team:
- Choose which kinds of experience would be helpful to you.
- Determine how often you will meet with your advisors. Monthly is common.
- Find out what kind of compensation, if any, you should pay to your advisors. It doesn’t need to be cash. Think of creative ways to thank these people — merchandise, services, equity in your business, etc. — for sharing time and insights with you. How do you find out? Ask around.
- Identify individuals you know who can either serve as your advisors or can
refer you to advisors. If you don’t know the right people, it’s time to
get out and network. Your local Chamber of Commerce or industry organization is a place to
- Schedule regular meetings, and be prepared with an agenda prior to each meeting. Let advisors know in advance what the agenda will be.
In addition to providing you with advice, your advisors may very well tell their networks about you, helping to promote your business at a critical time. That’s something that advice on the Web won’t do for you!