How to Create An Advisory Board
How to create an advisory board . . .
Deciding to put together an advisory board can be a daunting decision. But finding members who have plenty of experience and knowledge of running a business in your industry, can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are a couple of good sources where you can find members from different backgrounds, experience and industries. Creating a board with a mixed set of ideas and opinions will give it broader scope and create a challenging environment. Cerius put together a panel of experts who have put together boards for their own companies as well as sat on boards. Whether you decide to do the search yourself or use the assistance of a professional firm, here’s a few suggestions to keep in mind.
- Look close to home
For good talent, you don’t always have to look far off into the horizon. Sometimes the best people are only a few feet away. One of the first resources to tap into are your internal ones. Ask your partners, your employees or current network for a recommendation. These individuals may already be familiar with your organization and its external environment, eliminating time to get acclimated to the company.
- Attend business events
Jeff Thompson served on the board of directors for 10 years at Edelbrock Corporation. He was also a member of the executive, compensation and audit committees. Jeff recommends business conventions as a great resource for finding board members.
Companies should not restrict themselves to just individuals in their specific industry. Bringing in an outside perspective can go a long way. “When [companies] go to conventions they meet people who are not in the same type of business but they are successful in their trade, and that can align with you to create successes for your company,” said Jeff. You are also likely to connect with individuals who may not be in your industry but related to it. This can be a great asset to your company.
Merissa Levin, speaker and author on boards recommends attending CEO focused events. It’s a great opportunity to mingle and connect with other experienced people. Take a handful of business cards in your wallet and attend these events with the purpose of networking. Make an effort to meet new people and make your mission known. People at these events should be able to point you in the direction of potential advisors.
The Internet has grown beyond our imagination in the past decade. We use it to reconnect old relationships and to build new ones. Of the many resources online, LinkedIn is a perhaps the most phenomenal for businesses. It is a great tool to find new board members and definitely worth a try. Business owners today extensively use LinkedIn for strategic reasons and to connect with potential advisors, employees, suppliers, experts, etc. Using the search tool, you can quickly discover who in your network is connected to individuals coming up on your search. Reach out and see who else they can recommend and help you connect with.
- Don’t recruit clones
The point of an advisory board is to get the advice of people who have already achieved beyond what you have achieved. If you’re stuck with a board of clones then, as Merissa says, “You’re not really stretching and growing, and doing the things you need to do to move to the next level.” She adds, “You want to make sure that you are looking for advisors that are not in the exact same place you are.”
To be a part of a networking community, you need to be away from your desk and investing in the relationships that can help move you forward. Connecting with real professional groups is a great way to find successful business people men and women as potential advisors. Using your associations in the industry you will find links to many networks just a phone call away.
- Find your core
Ginger Silverman has served on advisory boards and boards of directors for private, public and non-profit companies and is a 25 year veteran specializing in marketing and regeneration. When asked what her approach is in how to create advisory boards, she said, “I try to get the owner of the company to really drill down to what the essence of their business model is.”
Business owners who sell services or are in manufacturing tend to focus on their specific services instead of their business model. Capturing the essence of your business model helps keep your search for advisors relevant to what your company truly needs.
- Parallel industries
Ginger also recommends that companies look for successful businesses in other industries that have followed similar paths. Look for businesses that have gone through the same stages your company is going through and have them guide you through those stages. Because if they’ve done it once, they can do it again.
Look for parallel industries and learn from their best practices. “That’s hard for people who haven’t been in today’s business world outside of their own family and business,” said Ginger.
An advisory board can offer a number of advantages and insights. It allows you to avoid a number of strategies that could leave you saying, “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Jeff Thompson says it best, “It’s really important that you get outside help using your boards and your advisors because you want an outside perspective coupled with innovative ideas to help your business expand.”
Finding an advisor has never been easier or more reliable. Visit Cerius Advisors to learn how. Avoid painful lessons learned. Talk to someone who has already been down the road before you.