Q: What should I consider offering executives to join the board of advisors at my company?
A: Knowledge about your business strategies. “Advisors, especially those who are executives at other companies, are always eager to learn from the success of others. If you can teach them something new and valuable that has helped you grow your business, you can attract a high quality pool of advisors.” Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift
Equity. “I would offer them a quarter of a percentage point in exchange for four years’ worth of advisory help. I would also lay out exactly what you expect of them in this role (e.g., one breakfast a month).” Luke Skurman, Niche.com
Nothing. “I truly believe that small businesses cannot afford to give financial incentives. Find individuals who have a passion for your company and who believe in you. Then, as you grow, pay them a stipend. I’ve used this strategy and have a wonderful working board that is passionate about TLN’s growth!” Tamara Nall, The Leading Niche
A voice within the company. “Optimally, your board of advisors will consist of industry and entrepreneurial experts who believe in the vision of your company. The best way to entice those people is to provide them with a meaningful voice within your company that shows how much you value their input. If the belief in your company is strong enough, they will want to immerse themselves in the growth and maturation process.” Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports, LLC
Future opportunities. “While on day one you may not have a lot of options for incentives for executives to join your board of advisors, they should be sophisticated enough to know that opportunities will arise as your company grows. Make it clear that your advisors will have a place at the table at any future equity rounds and will be on the short list for future vacancies on the board of directors.” Peter Minton, Minton Law Group, P.C.
Equity only as a “thank you.” “Advisors should get no more than a quarter point of equity in a startup. Look for someone who is really passionate and intellectually curious about what you are building. The amount of equity will not be an issue for the type of person you want as an advisor. A good advisor works with you because of their personal relationship with you, and also because of their excitement for your industry and your product.” Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp, Inc.
Vision and influence. “Equity and financial compensation are great, but if the only reason an executive is involved is for a small paycheck then you don’t want to work with them. Convince the executive that you have a strong vision that is going to change the future. Convince the executive that you care about their feedback. If that’s not true, you don’t have time to deal with them — you’ve got a company to run.” Slater Victoroff, Indico
A thoughtful gesture. “Someone agrees to be on the board because they believe in your vision. They may not be as motivated by compensation as they are by the fact that their contribution is helping your vision. So a thoughtful gesture — gifting a trip on their anniversary or tickets to the World Series — that shows that you are truly thankful for their advice and guidance can really make them feel appreciated.” Pratham Mittal, Outgrow