Need Guidance at Your Startup? Create an Advisory Board Keeping These 3 Things in Mind.

Figure out who your advisors will be, what role they'll play and what they'll get in return.

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By Adam Toren • Apr 4, 2014 Originally published Apr 4, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are always two sides to the coin when it comes to getting investment capital or going public for entrepreneurs. While some like the angel investor or capital funding route, others prefer to keep their business private so they maintain 100 percent control.

If you fall into the latter camp, but need help growing your business, one great idea is to form an advisory board. The benefits of an advisory board are that you get the expertise and vested mentoring you need without giving up any ownership control of your company.

Related: How to Create and Leverage a Stellar Board of Advisors

There are plenty of factors to consider, but if you think an advisory board might be right for you, here are three factors to consider when creating your own:

Determine your business's greatest area of need. Ideally, an advisory board will help lend their knowledge and expertise to your company on a consistent basis. So it makes the most sense to create a board that covers the areas of your business where you have the greatest need and also that you know the least about. If you're a whiz at sales and marketing, but have no legal or financial expertise, you will want to create a board with a strong background in finance and law to make sure you're covering your weakest areas.

Set the expectations of what you'll need from board members. Like any new professional arrangement, you'll want to devote some serious time to outlining what your advisory board will be responsible for and what powers they have. Do they vote on the senior management team? Do they have a say in financial or business decisions?

You need to decide what the board's structure, power and terms of service are before you go out and find its members. It's helpful to research other businesses similar to yours with advisory boards to see how they're structured.

Related: 3 Ways to Find Your Perfect Board of Advisors

It may also be beneficial to ask current advisory board members what they think has worked well from their experience or even seek to serve on another company's advisory board yourself to learn first-hand what works and what doesn't. Whatever you decide, clearly outline the expectations and powers of the board members beforehand.

Devise what you will offer board members in return. A great advisory board will make a huge and lasting positive impact on your business. They're vested in your success and should have terrific insight and experience to help you succeed. They're also highly skilled and in-demand people with plenty on their own plate already. So what's in it for them?

After you've set out what you expect from your board, approach what you and your business are going to do for them in return. Why should they give their time and energy to your cause? How will being on this board enhance their lives and careers?

Again, by asking other current advisory board members or serving on a board yourself, you may better be able to answer these questions and come up with a win-win situation. Once you know what you want and what you're giving them, define it and approach the board members you desire to create your own advisory dream team.

Related: A One-Page Business Plan in 5 Steps
Adam Toren

Serial entrepreneur, mentor, advisor and co-founder of

Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Phoenix, Ariz.

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