How to Find Advisors for Your Startup

For entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses, it’s important to have a team of experts behind them. An all-star lineup will give your company an edge in the crowded startup field. Here are a few tips to help you in your advisor search.

1. Where are your holes?

Similar to assembling a Fantasy Football team, when looking for advisors it’s best to find individuals who can play different positions. Before you begin deciding who to specifically target, identify your company’s weak spots. For example, if you have a small team consisting solely of developers and designers, it may be helpful to have an advisor with a sales and marketing background.

2. Limit the overlap

As you try to get your company off the ground, it’s natural to want all the advice you can get. That being said, beware of having too many cooks in the kitchen. There’s no reason to have three advisors with identical backgrounds because it will take three times as long for you to get the same advice.

3. Relevant experience

“Relevant experience” doesn’t necessarily mean you need to target people who have done exactly what you are trying to do. But make sure you stick to businesses similar to yours in focus. The CEO of a manufacturing company may have impressive credentials, but that doesn’t mean he will bring a lot of value to, say, a social networking startup. A better choice in this case would be someone who has experience building a digital product that has high consumer engagement.

4. Recruiting potential advisors

The success of your business often depends on your ability to utilize your network. Reach out to successful colleagues, friends, friends’ bosses, or even your parents. If you have a positive existing relationship with your advisor, he or she is more likely to give your business more of their attention.

If you want to secure advisors outside of your network, take the time to research and let them know you understand and admire their accomplishments. A personal phone call shows assertiveness, ambition and will help move the relationship forward.

5. Give them incentives

It’s important to understand what opportunities will motivate potential advisors. If you’re a young startup, it’s not likely that you can offer to pay your advisors, so be creative with your incentives. A small amount of equity works for some advisors, while others simply look for chances to boost their résumé and/or have their name associated with a company on the rise.

6. Set the expectations

Since your advisors are successful people, you can be sure they’re also busy people. Set reasonable and clearly defined expectations for how much time you need from them. Additionally, prepare for each meeting, in order to accomplish as much as possible. If you meet for one hour on every third Monday of the month, send out an email the week before, outlining the topics you wish to discuss.

Tyler is responsible for handling a portion of the day-to-day operations, implementing plans to grow rider audience, and executing sales strategies to keep up with customer growth targets. TransitChatter is based in Chicago, and working to become the leading platform for delivering personalized, geo-relevant content, advertisements and travel information to the riders of mass transit worldwide.

Hillary Hafke contributed to this article.

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