Aside from being a regulatory requirement in many cases, building a board of directors is an excellent way to make connections, recruit mentors, and foster additional growth for your small business. Two or three trusted advisers who care about your company — and what to see it succeed — are enough to get started.
Once you have a board assembled, what’s next? Here are four tips that will help ensure that your board meetings run smoothly:
1. Prepare a packet of background information and send it to everyone at least a day in advance. Make sure to announce the purpose of the meeting, review actions taken since your last meeting, and include any relevant data points (key metrics, financial statements, staffing reports, budgets, etc.). The idea is that, by receiving this information in advance, board members can prepare for the meeting — and arrive prepared with questions, comments, suggestions, and concerns.
2. Be clear with your agenda but flexible with your approach. It’s important to have a plan, but make sure to give board members the opportunity to ask questions, share thoughts, and propose solutions. Allow enough time for these interactions — and any potential issues that may arise — so that the meeting doesn’t go over its scheduled time.
3. Prepare to run the show. You’re the one in the spotlight, so be confident in your ability to lead the meeting. Anticipate questions and present solutions. If an adviser’s suggestion is helpful, validate it — and put a plan of action into effect. If you disagree with a strategy, be prepared to explain why it can’t or shouldn’t happen.
4. Don’t ambush board members with bad news. If things go wrong (and they often will), don’t bombard people with this information at a board meeting. Do it immediately, either by phone or email. Give everyone the time and space needed to focus on the matter at hand — and have solutions ready when they come to the next meeting.