A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on TechCrunch about how to run a successful board meeting. Since then, I’ve been asked one question over and over: 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 actionable board deck 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 business and establishing trust with your board members.
Establish the foundations
Though it may seem daunting, the simplest way to ensure you’re providing board members with the information they want to see is to just ask them.
Reaching out to your board not only helps provide a sense of direction, it also gives you the opportunity to build your relationship. People appreciate the opportunity to weigh in.
Remember that 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 these concerns were and how they can be addressed now that the relationship is official.
Do your own research, too. Learn who your board members are and find out which other boards they’ve served on. What kinds of companies are they working with? What is their reputation? Their experience with other companies will influence their expectations with your firm. If an investor is new to your board but has been on another for two years, find a way to get insight into how they operate.
Additionally, don’t hesitate to reach out to other founders about what works for them. Talk to people within your network to see what they’re doing, what’s resonating with their board, what their investors respond to and what their board’s makeup looks like.
Building an investor deck is (or at least, should be) a heavy lift. Remember that you’re going to do this on a continuous basis, so you need to structure it carefully to produce something of quality.