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Finance | Jun 14

Building a team and Advisory Board

Finance | Jun 14

In this article, Kevin Smith from BOOM & Partners highlights the importance of an Advisory Board when seeking funding

Reading Time 4 minutes

Getting funding to scale a business in 2024 is certainly more of a challenge than it has been in more recent years. This does not mean that it is impossible. It does, however, enable potential investors to raise the bar even further when deciding which companies are worthy of investment. This, in turn, can reflect itself in many ways, but certainly one of those ways is by even greater scrutiny of the founder(s) and any management team, and the Advisory Board.

Early-stage businesses do not have the luxury of being able to point back at many years trading history, and that is one of the key points that makes the founders and the senior management team and close advisors of such significance to the chances of success.  Whether you are a founder, or a co-founder will often depend upon how your business was conceived in the first place but there is no doubt that being a sole founder is a much tougher job.

Sole founders will sometimes go in search for a co-founder, and this can be especially true in sectors such as life sciences and other areas of more specialist technology. But whether as a sole founder or a co-founder, in order to grow your business, it will be necessary to make some early senior hires and to choose key advisors.

Building a good team and choosing the best people to be on the Advisory Board are decisions that not only enhance the chances of a successful fundraising campaign, but they will also have very obvious ramifications as to the longer-term success of the business.  The aim for building both the senior team working on a day-to-day basis and for the Advisory Board that works in a far more non-executive capacity, is to broaden and deepen the skill set of any founders.

Bringing in more specialised team members not only provides specific skills such as business development, marketing, or sales, but it also provides extra time resources which enables the founder to act more in the CEO capacity.  Being able to focus on the bigger picture and look at the business as a whole, rather than actually getting deeply involved in every aspect, is necessary to ensure that the business is able to scale.

These first senior hires need to understand that they are joining a small business that does not have the resources that larger companies do but they offer much greater growth potential for the role that they are brought in to do.  It is also imperative that there is a good personal fit between the new team members and the founders, as if the fit is good then the productivity of the whole team will be greatly enhanced.  To get exceptional team members it can be beneficial to offer share options linked to specific KPIs and, by doing this, it is also possible to keep salary costs to affordable levels.

Just as with building the team, putting in place a good Advisory Board will not only greatly increase the chances of success for growing the business, but it will also improve the probability of a successful fundraising campaign when it is required.  Typically, the Advisory Board will consist of three to five members, of which one or two are proactive and involved more closely with the business, and the others operate on a more reactive basis.

When BOOM & Partners is on the Advisory Board it is clear that founders are often in need of both a shoulder to cry on when times are tough or the unexpected happens, as well as needing someone experienced to talk through and sense check ideas.  In addition, the Advisory Board helps to ensure that the founders remain focused and are answerable for delivering milestones on time. It is for these very reasons that investors feel comforted to see a good, strong Advisory Board.

Use the Advisory Board members to bring in knowledge and expertise, and of course contacts, that are not available as part of the core team.  It can be a very cost-effective way of leveraging high quality people for relatively little financial outlay, and many would consider being involved in exchange for some form of minor equity stake or options.

As with every aspect of growing a business, building the right team and advisors are not only important in the scaling process but, in 2024 more than ever, they are crucial in getting funding to scale.

This article first appeared on the BOOM & Partners page here.

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