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Equity Exchange

No budget for an advisory board? It's ok--some will work for stakes.

Question: I want to form a board of advisors to help start my business but don't have the money to pay them. Any ideas?
Answer: With a compelling concept and connections with industry executives, you can put together a solid advisory board.

Unlike directors of large public companies, advisors to entrepreneurial companies will often work for equity (typically options or warrants). "Most advisors are honored to build their 'BOA resume' and associate with a potential success story [in exchange for] occasional mentoring services," says Michael Weinstein, CEO of internet marketing firm Primary Systems Inc., who's served on numerous advisory boards and is a mentor in The Connecticut Technology Council's FastTrack Emerging Ventures Program.

Expect to give a board member an equity stake of up to 1 percent of your shares vesting over two to four years, Weinstein says, and the sta
ke's size may vary depending on the time and involvement expected from the advisor. In return, the board member will attend company meetings, facilitate introductions, screen management candidates and offer strategic direction.

Rosalind Resnick is founder and CEO of Axxess Business Consulting, a New York City consulting firm that advises startups and small businesses, and author of Getting Rich Without Going Broke: How to Use Luck, Logic and Leverage to Build Your Own Successful Business. Reach her atrosalind@abcbizhelp.comor through her website, abcbizhelp.com.

Rosalind Resnick is a New York-based freelance writer, entrepreneur, investor and author of The Vest Pocket Consultant's Secrets of Small Business Success.

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This article was originally published in the July 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Equity Exchange.

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