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Managing Your Board

We all strive to be the best stewards for our businesses.  We’ve talked in this blog the importance of communication to your employees.  Communication is extremely important to your Board and investors, too.

Here are some tips for managing your Board.

Board meeting

a. Keep the formal – Startups are fun because they are more casual, fast-paced, and exciting than big companies, but, that gives you no excuse to run an informal meeting.  Use Roberts Rules of Order to get things moving along and items approved by the Board.

b. Drive the meeting.  I’ll talk in future posts about the ideal structure for the meeting.  In general, you’ll have corporate business in the beginning (employee stock grant approvals, financing discussions, 409a valuations, etc), executive summary on the business, financial overview, etc.  You’ll want to have already taken care of the corporate business and historical operating data within the first hour.  The next 2-3 hours should be open to discussion the strategic stuff. Things like macro economic conditions in your market, the competition, your product direction, etc.  You know the strategic stuff.

c. Drive the meeting – I’ve been in Board meetings where the CEO struts out his team like members of "America’s Got Talent".  You’ve got the CTO doing a demo and rattling off about cool new platform improvements, the marketing executive waxing prophetic on direct response campaigns, etc.  That’s all fine in limited doses but this is really the one driving the meeting.  He/she drives the meeting.  Your CFO is critical for the financial overviews but you as CEO should be driving the show.  You should be talking over the majority of the meeting.

Regular communication

a. Send regular email communications — either weekly or bi-weekly communication should be sent out.  Cover your key KPIs.  Articulate how you are trending to your plan,weekly and monthly changes to revenue/gross margin/EBITDA, new sales deals closed, etc.

b. Pre-Board huddle – Its also a good idea to have a pre-Board meeting chat (in-person or phone) with
each Board member.  This will give you a chance to add some color commentary concerning what you are about to present.  Remember that the battle is won before the war.  Don’t surprise your Board.

I found an older post from Beyond VC which is a particuarly solid bit of advice.  More to come. 


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