Structural similarities may exist between a board of directors and an advisory board. They should both have a chair to facilitate and lead, as well as procedures for the conduct of meetings. In the case of advisory boards, the business owner is not usually the chair because this is often a skill set specifically recruited for. Your approach to recruitment doesn’t need to be formal – many advisory board members have been recruited over a cup of coffee or casual drink.

Define expectations

Clearly establishing what you are trying to achieve is imperative to a successful advisory board experience. Which area of the business will most benefit from external support? Aim to lock down your own expectations of your advisory board before members are engaged and then work with your advisory board members to collectively confirm the expectations of all parties and how the advisory board is going to operate.


It is really important to select a balance of individuals to join your advisory board and ensure robust but constructive debate. Setting skill criteria allows for an objective assessment of candidates, however, also look for the right chemistry (respect, shared vision, challenge and ability to get over disagreements) – both ways.


Ask yourself the following questions, to help you determine the composition of your advisory board.

  • How many advisory board members are you seeking?
  • Who will be involved from management?
  • What specific skills will help my situation?
  • What soft skills will champion cohesion?


Compensation for your advisory board members will depend on who is recruited and how involved you need them to be. A number of options exist such as voluntary (no monetary compensation), pay per meeting, a monthly or quarterly retainer, equity in the business or a combination of the above. You need to select the right compensation option to fit your business.