A few weeks A few days ago I wrote an article on TechCrunch on how to run a successful board meeting. Since then, I’ve been asked a question time and time again: what does a good board update actually look like?
It’s a perfectly reasonable question. At the start of a startup, most founders have very little data to work with. It can be quite difficult to structure a productive and actionable deck of cards if you don’t have any customer or product information to anchor the update.
It’s important to balance two key areas: providing an assessment of the company and building trust with your board members.
Lay the foundations
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.
Reaching out to your board not only helps orient you, but also gives you the opportunity to build your relationship. People appreciate the ability to weigh in.
Remember that investors are always looking at you as a leader, learning to work with you, and looking for your strengths and weaknesses.
Many board members are also investors, so be upfront and ask them if they had any concerns about the investment, what those concerns were, and how they can be resolved now that the relationship is official.
Also do your own research. Learn who your board members are and find out what other boards they have served on. What types of companies do they work with? What is their reputation? Their experience with other businesses will influence their expectations of your business. If an investor is new to your board but has been on it for two years, find a way to get an overview of how it works.
Also, feel free to reach out to other founders to find out what works for them. Talk to members of 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) a lot of work. Remember, you’re going to be doing this on an ongoing basis, so you need to structure it carefully to produce something of quality.