9 Ways Small Business Owners Can Identify Advisory Board Members

Every entrepreneur should have an advisory board–a small group of people whom you can reach out to whenever you make a major decision. You should be investing in people whose advice you can trust. Most people pick their board members by default. Meaning, certain people have always been around and they automatically become the ones that they talk to. But there should be as much thought toward selecting your personal board as you would in selecting a board of directors if you were a corporation.

[Related: Why Every Entrepreneur Needs A Personal Board of Directors]

BlackEnterprise.com reached out to members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC); an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free, virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. BE asked them how best can an entrepreneur identify and get people to sign on as advisory board members? Here’s what they had to say.

1. Determine the Goals of Your Advisory Board First. Once you’ve determined the goals of your advisory board, select individuals who will be valuable to the board and passionate about the project based on their experience. Introduce your candidates to the idea and if you’ve chosen wisely, they should express interest and may even request to be a member of the board.

Andrew Namminga, Andesign

2. Look for Passion and Previous Experience. Look for someone who is experienced and an expert in the same industry with strong connections and industry knowledge. They should be passionate about your idea and willing to put in their own cash for success. This experience and knowledge can help guide you in the right direction and avoid costly mistakes.

Parveen Panwar, Vidaptiv Inc / PMI 5 Media

3. Look for People Interested in Equity. The best advisory board members have more opportunities than they have time to fit into their busy schedules. If you want to land a rockstar advisory board member you may need to offer them 0.1 to 1.0% of your company’s equity, on a two-year vesting schedule, depending on how big of a household name or expert they are and the amount of time and resources they are willing to commit to your company.

Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

4. Ask the First Person You’d Want to Test Your Idea With. Whomever that is, they are a great place to start. Asking someone to be an advisor should be the second step — the first, is getting a meeting to just “gut check” what you are doing and get their candid feedback. Once they’re bought into the idea, you’ll find they’ll be more interested in getting involved.

Tammy Leigh Kahn, MarketMeSuite (Acquired) / Constant Contact