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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

Why Your Startup Needs an Advisory Board (and How to Choose the Right People)

Never be the smartest person in the room. If you are, then you're in the wrong room. That's one piece of advice I would give to all entrepreneurs.

As a founder, the talent you hire at your startup is crucial. While difficult to attract and retain any employees at all, the individuals you bring on board should ideally be more knowledgeable than you in their respective domains. After all, startups are built by generalists and scaled by specialists.

It's no secret that entrepreneurs are expected to be versed in many areas. Nonetheless, with so many aspects to building a business, founders often hire employees to fill gaps in their knowledge or experience. Top talent isn't cheap, however, which leads us to an advisory board.

Below I discuss the importance of having advisors, steps to ensuring the right fit, typical terms offered and ways to leverage the most value from these relationships.

What is an advisory board?

An advisory board is a group of individuals whom you trust, as the leader of a startup, to provide valuable business advice. The role of an advisor is, in essence, to serve as a mentor for both you and your company.

For the most part, advisors typically offer suggestions or guidance in the following areas:

  • Finding investors

  • Building company culture

  • Implementing growth tactics

  • Acquiring and retaining employees

  • Planning or executing an exit strategy

Your board should be diverse. Whether it's a CMO who can coach you on marketing or a lawyer to help navigate legal challenges, advisors are meant to be complementary to you as a founder. Relationships with these individuals will often be personal, and at times informal, leaving both sides to communicate via text, email or video chat.


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