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Do I Really Have to Do this Alone?: Creating a Thriving Advisory Board

by Stephanie Hoffman, SOU Small Business Development Center 

Create an Advisory Board that offers expertise, guidance and next-step recommendations to move forward.  You don’t have to run your business alone!

Be Clear on the Board’s Purpose

What advice would be most helpful: financial, pricing, funding, marketing, operations, product development?  Write out the responsibilities, compensation, and time commitment.

Choose Diversity

Having people with different expertise and opinions leads to a broader perspective and more creativity.  Choose people smarter than you by objectively assessing your own expertise gaps. Having members playing devil’s advocate is very useful.  Pay attention to the board chemistry.

Find the Members

Look at professional network, friends, and family (assess their objectivity). Even trusted customers are potential members. Ask for referrals from your network. Explain the board’s purpose, why they were chosen, time commitment, and roles and responsibilities.

Protect Yourself

Have board members complete nondisclosure agreements.


Most board members volunteer their time and it’s important to highly value their participation. Choose a meeting place that has minimal distractions. Host a luncheon or dinner at your home or pay for members’ meals at a restaurant.

How Often to Meet

Usually, once a quarter tends to be enough meeting time, though some businesses, especially in the beginning stage, may need to convene more often.  Expect to meet one-three hours.

How Many Board Members?

Three to six members round out the board with expertise, diversity, and creativity.

Be Organized

Send out relevant information like the agenda, financial reports, revised business website link, marketing materials for review at least one week before the board meeting.


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