A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on toptecheasy.com about how to run a successful board meeting. Since then, I’ve been asked one question: what does a good board update actually look like?
It’s a perfectly reasonable question. In the early days of a startup, most founders have very little data to work with. It can be quite difficult to structure a productive and useful board game if you don’t have customer or product information to anchor the update.
It’s important to balance two key areas: reviewing the company and building trust with your board members.
Lay the foundation
While it may seem daunting, the easiest way to make sure you’re giving board members the information they want to see is to simply ask them.
Contacting your board not only helps provide a sense of direction, it also gives you the opportunity to build your relationship. People appreciate the ability to weigh.
Remember, investors are always scrutinizing you as a leader, learning how to work with you, and looking for strengths and weaknesses.
Many board members are also investors, so be blunt and ask if they had any concerns about making the investment, what those concerns were, and how they can be addressed now that the relationship is official.
Also do your own research. Find out who your board members are and find out what other boards they’ve served on. What kind of companies do they work with? What is their reputation? Their experience with other companies will influence their expectations of your company. If an investor is new to your board but has been in another for two years, find a way to understand how they work.
In addition, don’t hesitate to reach out to other founders about what works for them. Talk to people in your network to see what they’re doing, what resonates with their board, what their investors are responding to, and what their board composition looks like.
Building an investor deck is (or at least should be) an arduous task. Remember, you’re going to be doing this continuously, so you need to structure it carefully to produce something of quality.