When scouting members for your advisory board, diversity must be front of mind. Your board should embrace professional and experienced individuals from across several different industries, both men, women, young and old.
Other variables like location, personality and experience should also be considered if your advisory board is to be a business insight-driving success. Putting together a broad mix of people is going to help you in more ways than you might expect.
Here are some points to consider when selecting your advisory board members.
Let’s say you’re in the finance industry and you decide to only recruit board members that are in the same industry. This is a mistake. By doing so, you’re severely limiting your scope of advice.
While these professionals may know the ins and outs of your sector they may not have a broad base of experience. Identifying strengths and weaknesses of your business can involve looking beyond your immediate industry, so a well-rounded suite of experience is advisable.
At the end of the day, you want your board to push your thinking outside the box and bring a fresh perspective.
By only including board members from the same industry, you also limit your networking groups. Remember, each member of your board brings with them their own personal network – members who share the same expertise will likely share the same connections, too.
The size of an advisory board will differ from business to business, depending on size, needs, market position and strategy. However, for a small to medium-sized business, an advisory board of six to eight people will provide a good base of experience.
Remember, advisory board meetings won’t always be easy to facilitate, especially if they are a new initiative. Your aim should be to encourage productive discussion that yields valuable and diverse business insights and feedback.
An advisory board that is too small may limit your data, yet one that is too large leaves room for distraction and even unwanted conflict.
Consider the experience levels of each of your board members. While first instinct may be to always opt for the most experienced professionals in their field, younger professionals can yield unexpected results.
Just as your advisory board should include industry, age and geographic diversity, it should also include professionals of differing experience. After all, if today’s disruptive marketplace has taught us anything, it’s that age is no barrier to innovation.
Your senior advisors should be at the level you wish to be. If you’re looking to increase revenue from $10million, you want to be recruiting someone with $20million revenue experience. These members should have extensive experience within their industry, but don’t have to be ‘big’ names.
Look at the skill sets of each potential candidate and see if they complement each other. A successful advisory board meeting can involve controlled conflict, which is where some of the best solutions may arise.
Ideally, your board members will have a genuine interest in your business, not just from a financial viewpoint. Selecting members who are passionate about your organisation ensures they bring their best to meetings, and defend and qualify their opinions with confidence.
Finding the ideal suite of advisory board members can be a timely process, but will pay off in spades.