by Lily Sandler (co-founder of BLAMtastic and IY Jr. Board Member)
One of the key components to a triumphant company is a kick-butt advisory board. What is an advisory board? An advisory board is a group of people appointed to advise the officials of a company. An advisory board can make or break a company by offering its guidance. A quality advisory board can help a company find amazing contacts, guide a company in the proper direction, and provide a company with generic guidance when dealing with grueling situations. For example, at BLAMtastic the other day we had a Fox News interview simply by the graciousness of one of our advisors. Finding a solid advisory board can quite a challenge, but keeping the following aspects in mind while doing so is crucial:
Make sure to research your candidate before asking them. Knowing the occupational history of the person is vital. The more he/she is familiar with an aspect the company needs help with or the more he/she is familiar in the company’s category, the better.
Make sure he/she is respected in his/her field of work. If the person is going to advise a company, one should make darn sure he/she knows what he/she is talking about!
Get a great, diverse variety of people. A company should gather a varying group of people that all complement each other. This could mean recruiting one person who knows investment, one person who knows business expansion, etc. At BLAMtastic, for instance, so far we have a social media guru, a mass retail genius, a well-networked marketing mastermind, and a master expansion expert. Our group could not be more differing in backgrounds, but each person fills in another’s deficits.
Find people that know the areas of business that make you cringe. If you are unknowledgable or unseasoned in a certain area of business, finding an advisor who is well-versed in that area could be the solution to your problem.
One other thing a company should consider before recruiting potential advisors is whether it not it would like to give equity to its advisors. While people may be hesitant to give large chunks of their businesses, giving a small piece of equity may spark the advisors to put greater amounts of effort into helping to expand the company. They will want to contribute their time so that they see a return on their time investment. A small amount of equity for each advisor is not required, but it does help to motivate those to who have a piece of the company. It makes them feel like they are a part of the process.
Now, you know what you need to ponder in finding an advisory board. Next step, how do you get the candidates to want to be on your board? Networking! I remember about three years back I sent a letter to one of our current advisors simply writing a letter inquiring about receiving some advice and business guidance. He responded, kindly offering us some words of wisdom and allotting us some of his valuable time. He loved our business, and gave us some truly valuable guidance on where to take our company in its next stages. About a month ago we reached out to him again to inform him about the buzz occurring at our company (again, NETWORKING!) and he offered to serve on our board! Actually, he re-offered. Apparently he had offered at the first meeting, but being the newly seasoned business people that we were, we had not even known what phrase meant! We had overlooked it. Now, he serves as one of our advisors, and the relationship started with a mere letter! Finding a worthy advisory board is a true challenge, but with the proper method of doing so, any entrepreneur can tackle the challenge.