Once the funding process is completed for a start-up, the real work for a VC begins in terms of helping to grow its business. A primary way this is done is via on-going Board meetings in which the VC partner/Board members actively engage in understanding how well (or not) the business is performing. Board meetings ideally provide a constructive forum to offer suggestions and advice on how to deal with various strategic and tactical issues that all start-ups inevitably will face.
The Agony and The Ecstasy – The focus of this blog is to share some suggestions for those members of the start-up team who need to present to their Board. We’ve seen presenters rise in esteem following a brilliant Board presentation (and unfortunately have witnessed others crash to Earth when things don’t go very well).
When a presentation doesn’t go well with a Board, in retrospect, a lot of this pain could be avoided if the presenter and management team had taken the time to plan out in advance (together with their Board’s input) what they really wanted to accomplish. Time invested in this type of planning will ultimately make it easier for the start-up management team as well as Board members successfully deal with the key business issues they are trying to resolve.
The Good – Let’s begin by sharing some best practices (“The Good”) from various Board presentations we’ve had the pleasure of being a part of with various start-ups:
Begin With The End In Mind – In getting ready for a Board meeting, one helpful technique is to ask your management team the key question, “What would a great outcome be for this team from this upcoming Board presentation?” Once you’ve agreed on everything you would like to achieve (and this can include a common understanding of key strategic issues, agreement to business plans and budgets, etc.), then you all can focus on developing an agenda and presentation that will be built on making sure this future “success state” actually happens.
What we’ve found to be particularly effective is to agree at the outset on the goals and strategy of the business for the longer term and then determine how you can measure and evaluate the progress (or lack thereof) a business is making. Knowing where you want to go, understanding how you can know if you’re on your way there (or not), and being able to draw knowledge and insights are key to mapping out an effective plan among the Board and executive team.