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Startup Founder and Advisory Board | Photo Credit: Unsplash

Every Founder needs a group of credible and skilled advisors who can assist in navigating the ups and downs of business. A startup advisory board is considered an invaluable and recommended asset for every startup founder.

Creating a team of startup advisors gives you access to expert advice and external perspectives that are instrumental to your company’s growth. Finding the right startup advisors can be a significant factor influencing the success of your company.

The Roles of StartUp Advisors

Startup advisors have primarily experienced company or brand builders. They are professionals in your industry with practical and significant business expertise who serve the purpose of mentoring you, providing subject-matter or industry-related advice, and valuable networking connections.

Startup advisors are usually individuals who have launched or built a successful business in the past or helped other startup founders do so. They offer expertise.

Your startup advisors’ role depends on the stage of development of your startup, your company needs, and your industry. For example, an early-stage startup is usually more focused on building brand awareness and a customer base, product/service development, and creating a stable cash flow.

For this reason, such a startup will require startup advisors with specific practical skills. Some of these skills include accounting, marketing expertise, pricing policy, legal skills, and a practical understanding of the industry and the product/services to be offered.

Although the role of your startup advisors depends on the nature and stage of your startup, it is important to consider your company’s future needs while hiring your startup advisors.

Compensating Startup Advisors

Startup advisors can be paid in equity, salary (cash), or both. However, most startup advisors would rather have an equity stake or package depending on the startup advisory agreement.

To determine the quality of pay for the status advisors, you should consider the level of participation, quality of the advisor, and your startup’s stage of development.

Regarding equity stakes, concept, seed, and early-stage startups typically offer about 0.1%-1.0% of company equity to advisors, with proactive and quality advisors receiving higher offers. As the startups grow bigger, the higher side of the equity package range tends to reduce by 0.2%-0.4%.

How to Hire Advisors for Your Startup

Beyond making the decision to hire startup advisors, finding the right advisors at the right time and in the right place is important. So, where can you find skilled and credible startup advisors?

  • Online Communities

There are various online communities that can connect you with professional startup advisors who will be instrumental to the growth of your business. You can find helpful insights and access to experts in your industry and several others through online groups and forums on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

There are also online platforms specially made to connect startup founders with advisors in their industry, such as:

  • Networking Events for Startups

Startup networking events are strategic places to meet with the right startup advisor for your company. These events are usually crowded with advisors and investors looking to partner or work with founders who have outstanding business ideas.

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Startup founders sharing Ideas. | Photo Credit: Unsplash

Attending these events provides you with an opportunity to meet various advisors across different industries. It connects with people who have in-depth experience and expertise in your industry, as well as connections that may be beneficial to you in the long run.

  • Incubator and Accelerator programs

To get one-on-one contact with mentors and credible advisors, you can register with any renowned incubator and accelerator program. On joining these programs, you are assigned a personal advisor to guide your business choices and give the necessary advice needed at every point. Some well-known incubator programs include:

However, these programs come with strict and sometimes unfavourable investing rules, which may not always be comfortable for most startup founders. Ensure to conduct in-depth research before joining any incubator and accelerator program.

  • Cold Emails

Writing cold emails to renowned startup advisors in your industry is another effective way to connect with suitable startup advisors for your company. Cold emailing startup advisors offer the advantage of connecting with your desired advisor, regardless of their location.

The disadvantage of this is that several other startup founders are also sending cold emails to these advisors, and yours may get lost amongst them. Nevertheless, there are a few ways your cold emails can stand out and stand the chance of being read. Personalizing your emails, and offering a service or support can make your cold emails stand out.

  • Partners

Business partners, investors, customers, and mentors can easily become valuable assets to your company by being a part of our advisory board or team. This is often the first step most startup founders take before trying out other options. Exploring close investors, mentors, business partners, and customers is an excellent way to introduce advisors to your startup.

Your relationship with these individuals makes the hiring process even easier. It allows you to do prior informal research into their expertise and knowledge before officially hiring them.

  • Forums and Peer Groups

Forums and groups of like-minded entrepreneurs can give you access to information and knowledge beneficial to your startup. Interaction with other startup owners can position you for growth, provide clarity on bothering issues, and most importantly, give you access to advisors.

  • Industry Events

Attending industry and industry-related events is a pivotal way to connect with other startups, growing companies, and top competitor companies in your industry.

In addition to meeting and learning from these individuals, industry events can serve as a platform for you to connect with the right advisors. Such advisors tend to have a more profound knowledge of the industry and sufficient experience needed to guide your business through its early phases.

Conclusion

Startups advisors are highly instrumental to the growth and success of any startup, especially the seed, concept, and early-stage startups. However, before hiring startup advisors, it is essential to conduct a self-survey of your startup. Identifying lapses and weak points in your business structure and planning will help you decide if you need startup advisors and (if yes) determine the skills you need on deck.

Although startup advisors are highly instrumental to your business, they must be screened carefully before being hired. Ensure that advisors hired have a genuine interest in your vision and have the necessary skills and industry-related experience needed.

References

Starttech Ventures: What is a startup advisor and what do they do?

CorpNet: Do I Need a Startup Advisor?

MentorCruise: Startup advisors: What they do, where to meet them and how to get them interested

FundingSage: 3 Considerations for Advisory Board Compensation

About AbstractOps

If you’re an early-stage CEO, AbstractOps handles and automates your HR, finance, and legal ops — so that you don’t have to. We help you Be Scrappy, Not Sloppy.

We understand that ops can be painful. If you have any questions or need assistance with your ops, drop us a note at hello@abstractops.com. We’ll do our best to help.

 

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