All Articles Leadership Strategy Why forethought matters when establishing your advisory board

Why forethought matters when establishing your advisory board

12 entrepreneurs on how to build a great advisory board.

5 min read



The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBrief posts by YEC.

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Q. What is one thing to always keep in mind when initially setting up a stellar advisory board for your business?

1. Determine what the advisory board is

For It seems obvious, but sometimes we do things because we look for ways to fill our time. Determine what you’re hoping to get out of setting up an advisory board. Understand why you’re seeking help, and how the board will serve you on your journey. — Ismael Wrixen, FE International

2. Seek a mix of experience

Pick people that you want to spend time with. You want to make sure the two of you get along great, and that you value that person’s opinion and experience. Make sure to have a mix of advisers, too. Ideally, not everyone will have similar backgrounds, and try to diversify the experience that they have so that when you need something or have a question, then you have a great person to go to. — Jayna Cooke, EVENTup

3. Ensure there’s diversity and inclusion

Our biggest priority when setting up an advisory board is diversity. Diversity in gender, race, experience, expertise and industry, for instance. We are intentional about including all areas of expertise that we may need to call upon at some point during our entrepreneurial journey and make sure to bring on advisers who will continuously challenge our work with their knowledge on a particular subject. — Matt Hunckler, Powderkeg

4. Find people who really care

What you want in an adviser is someone who actually cares deeply about what you are doing. I’ve seen so many founders bring on advisers who seemed like a great fit, but what makes the difference between a good adviser and an incredible one is someone who is hugely passionate about what you are doing. Always look for passion in addition to skill set. — Beth Doane, Main & Rose

5. Seek counsel, not advice

Everyone is eager to give you their advice. However, counsel comes from those who have deep industry experience and have been in your shoes before. Finding advisers who can give you council should be your aim. Remember, the important quality in an adviser is that they are excited about your business and wants to help you. Having a stellar adviser that never answers your calls does you no good. — Arian Radmand, TurnGram

6. Make sure they truly get what you’re trying to accomplish

It’s important to find those who can advise you on what you are doing truly get what you are trying to do, and how your products or services are assisting a particular audience. This is critical to get the best connections and strategic recommendations. — John Rampton, Calendar

7. Find advisers who can open doors

The right advisory board can not only give you great advice, but also put you in contact with industry players who can make moves that benefit your company. Find people with industry experience and a network you can leverage to grow your business. — Vik Patel, Future Hosting

8. Choose members who can listen

Way too often, advisory members are involved in companies as a way of stroking their ego. Being selected as an adviser intrinsically comes with a sense of empowerment, which might indicate that the knowledge and experience is one-directional. Advisers will often impart their opinion on the company’s activities without truly listening to its unique challenges. Choose advisers who can listen. — Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

9. Have a spot for key positions

Just like building an athletic team you want to make sure you have the right players on the field. You want to make sure you have a marketing, legal, strategy and finance executive on your advisory board. That way you are analyzing your business from a 360-degree scope — Anthony Davani, The Davani Group Inc.

10. Study their track Record

Look for those that have a track record of running their own businesses successfully or investing in and growing companies that have succeeded. These are the masterminds you want to have on your board to get you to the same place. — Murray Newlands, Sighted

11. Have their equity vest over time

The time of the best advisers is very limited and extremely valuable. To keep your advisers motivated to continue to add value to your company over time, give them a piece of your company’s equity pie, but on a vesting schedule. The vesting schedule will help hold them accountable if they are rockstars in the first few months, but do not add as much value to your company down the road. — Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

12. Don’t forget that trust Is earned

Advisers should be mentors and peers that are trustworthy and will steer your business in the right direction, and not just in “their” right direction. They should be objective, insightful and continue guiding you through your journey in a way that allows you to achieve your goals. But trust should be earned, and not assumed. Ensure your board has earned their place at the table. — Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker