After you’ve celebrated your first successful funding round, you’ll likely have a moment of discomfort thinking about having an investor on your board of directors. What do you, as CEO, now need to do? Are there best practices to follow? Of course, there are! And we’ve got you.
Here are 11 tips for running a kick-ass board meeting that will impress your investors and foster a good working relationship.
1. Meet at least once per quarter. In terms of frequency, you'll want to strike a balance between meeting often enough to keep the board apprised of the company's progress, but not so often that you’re constantly prepping for the next meeting.
2. Your investors have busy schedules too; calendar all meetings 12-18 months in advance.
3. Develop a habit of scheduling regular phone updates with your board members about a week before the board meeting. Doing so allows you to preview important issues that are likely to come up at the meeting. It also ensures that any bad news isn't being delivered for the first time at the meeting.
4. Make a board deck that covers:
- Finances (last quarter's results, next quarter's forecast, and a full-year forecast)
- Sales and marketing
- Engineering and development
- Competition (both current and anticipated)
- Organizational chart/management structure (and hiring plans)
- Breakdown of remaining cash and future financing plans (it is always important, even if you've just closed a financing, to start thinking about when and how your next round will come together)
- IP/Legal (as needed)
- Matters up for formal approval (such as granting stock options)
5. Circulate the board package at least one full day before the meeting.
6. Be forthcoming, candid and straightforward about any challenges the company is facing. Allow your company to benefit from the experience your investors bring to the table – it's an important part of why you brought them on board.
7. At the meeting, cover one of two areas from your board deck that you judge to be particularly significant this quarter. An agenda that covers too many areas becomes counterproductive.
8. Limit the time frame. As an early- or mid-stage company, your regular board meetings should last no more than two and a half hours. This practice signals respect for everyone's busy schedules and promotes the efficient use of time.
9. Besides the CEO and CFO (who should attend all board meetings), consider inviting other members of your team to participate in board meetings and showcase the work they're doing.
10. Take notes and action. When board members ask numerous questions about a certain area of the business, make sure you focus on it too. After the meeting, consider analyzing these key topics further with your team; then, at the next meeting, provide the board with an update. Pulling action items from the discussion at past meetings and addressing them in subsequent meetings shows board members you are actively listening to them and helping them to better understand your company.
11. Finally, even though most meetings are virtual these days, you should still find a way to connect with your board and show them some love. Share (quick) jokes or personal facts about you and your team and occasionally mail them a copy of a book you love.