Few milestones can define an executive’s career as significantly as becoming an advisor. Whether it’s to make new connections, earn additional income, develop greater leadership skills, or simply share knowledge with others, more professionals are now actively pursuing advisory work to advance their careers than ever before. And, thanks to the rise of the gig economy and emergence of on-demand advisors, opportunities to do so are becoming more readily available.
But C-suite or executive level professionals have arguably some of the most busy and demanding schedules - why are they sacrificing their limited free time to take on additional work as an advisor?
For starters, many don’t consider it work at all. Instead, they see it as an avenue to share the insights and experience they accumulated throughout their careers with companies who need guidance. In fact, 58% of advisors expressed genuine satisfaction in using their knowledge to help others succeed. This sentiment is especially true for startups, where advisors have a hand in building a new company from the ground up.
Startups offer an experience that mature companies simply can’t: solving early-stage challenges. Many executives thrive on solving unique and exciting problems, yet they rarely come across them in more established and developed companies.
The initial years of a startup is a critical time for startups, in which they face obstacles of all kinds, including product validation, limited resources, scalability, and new competitors. For an advisor, these are pieces in an exciting puzzle just waiting to be put together.
“Five years ago [I] discovered the important role advisors can play to entrepreneurs and their early-stage companies, [and] it was an absolute game-changer for how I viewed myself, my professional experience and my future aspirations,” explains AdvisoryCloud member Preston Junger, VP of U.S. Operations for 7shifts: Restaurant Scheduling. “I have now found that being an advisor to startups provides me with the perfect outlet to share my keen interest in helping others solve important startup challenges that are often missing working for more mature large companies.”
With an estimated 627,000 new businesses opening each year, new startups are emerging in nearly niche imaginable. That means, there’s a high chance of finding a startup that not only fulfills personal aspirations but also aligns with your personal interests.
While many executives find their “career job” rewarding on a professional level, they often still seek passion projects that speak to their personal aspirations, such as protecting the environment, tinkering with new technologies, or whatever else it may be.
Executives with future goals of serving on a Board of Directors or Advisory Board for large corporations use advisory work to gain the required experience and leadership skills. But for those just starting out, landing that first advisory position can be challenging. Startups are often much easier to break into as a first-time advisor, since startups typically don’t have the means to pay high salaries. That’s not to say, however, advisors aren’t compensated in other ways, like equity-based opportunities, free product samples, discounts on services, and other enticing perks.
For startups, hiring advisors is equally advantageous - statistically increasing their chances of long-term success. While the bleak reality is that 30% of new businesses don’t survive the first two years, small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, double the rate of those without mentors.
Advisors also help add credibility to a first-time entrepreneur trying to boost their reputation among potential investors and partners, plus, they serve as subject matter experts to fill gaps in knowledge during a time before the startup hires the right employees.
The hardest part of joining an advisory board is locating a startup currently interested in bringing on new board members. These positions are rarely advertised in any public way, requiring you to proactively seek opportunities for yourselves. This often means joining a private network with a directory of available opportunities.
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