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How can your board help?

How to make the most from your board

Whether founders are more technical or more commercial, many are first time founders with limited experience in building and scaling a startup. A lot of work in startup land isn’t rocket science. But if you’ve never done it before, there are plenty of pitfalls that can catch you out. And every time you get too close to (or fall into!) a ditch, it costs time and crucial capital which is so precious in the early years of a company. Some examples of tricky decisions:

  • Hiring the right (senior) staff
  • Go-to-market strategy
  • Pricing strategy
  • Target customer segments
  • Balancing growth and burn-rate

Good investors and independent directors have seen similar situations before, so as a minimum they can give you the benefit of insights from what worked (and what didn’t!) in comparable situations.

But how do they assess how best to guide you? And how do you effectively distil all the learning you have from living and breathing the business every single day, so that you can transmit that to your board on a monthly basis? The answer is an effective board pack, which – if designed right – can help both frame your internal discussions with your executive leadership team, and also help bring your board up to speed so they can be true value add.

What is your board trying to learn?

Your board directors are looking to understand what’s really going on in your business. If they are also investors, you have gone through a sale process to get them excited about the prospects of the venture. You may even be looking to raise more capital from them in the future. Even so, you should resist any temptation to “market to the board”. Your board is there to help you succeed. All good investors know that if the founder/CEO is successful, it is because their business is successful. Your board wants you to succeed, and they want to help you do that. To provide help, they need to understand both what’s working and also what isn’t. This way, they can help you think of ways to solve the many problems that always confront a startup looking to solve a meaningful problem, to dominate an industry or even to change the world.