Everybody wants to raise money and talk about it. One of the things that does not get talked about quite so much is the overhead of taking someone else's money. More often than not one of your investors joins your newly created board and you start having board meetings. And every time I have been advising an entrepreneur on such a thing and the first board meeting comes up panic generally sets in. "How do I prep for the meeting?"
It's a fair question for a first time entrepreneur and it goes something like this.
1. Ask the board members what they would like to see at the meeting. They typically will share with you some board meeting materials from their more advanced stage companies that you will find completely overwhelming. "They want to see what?" you and your team will exclaim. The panic will deepen. Don't fret.
2. Ask the CEOs of the investors other portfolio companies what they provide to the board for their meetings. If you were smart and did your investor diligence before you accepted that term sheet you will already have established a relationship with these folks and they will be more than happy to help. What you will find is that what they are providing to their boards is a little bit less than what the board gives to you as examples.
3. Plan ahead. The first time you prep for a board meeting it will consume quite a bit of time. It's well over a two week planning process. This process shrinks over time. I prepare the board materials for nCrowd and I can literally get them together in less then 48 hours after a few years of doing so.
4. Set a schedule. Our board meetings are the third Tuesday of every even numbered month at 2:00pm and last for 90 to 120 minutes.
5. Get the board the materials out early. At least 48 hours before the meeting. With our Tuesday board meetings my aim is to get them the materials on Friday and if I lapse they go out on Saturday morning. While the materials may change in scope and size they generally include the following.
- An agenda
- Board meeting minutes
- A cap table
- Financial statements
- KPIs and operational overview
- An organzational chart including planned hires (if you have enough folks to warrant one)
- Special departmental or strategic presentations
6. No surprises. Each board member should know what is going to be discussed at the meeting and the CEO needs to understand each board member's point of view on important topics of discussion.
My number one rule on board meetings is to get in and get out quick and nobody gets hurt. Proper preparation will ensure this happens for you.