An informed and educated board benefits PE-backed companies and it is possible for CEO’s to make influence that situation. In a blog post in Entrepreneur Country investor Mark Suster offers the following eight tips which we summarized.
1. Email updates frequently
Do over-communicate. Investors and board members who know your strategic objectives can advocate on your behalf when they have chance encounters with your partners, customers or potential future investors. The more they know your strategic objectives the more laterally they can act on your behalf in key situations. If you email members with short updates more frequently they are more up to speed when you do need them to weigh in. Make your emails actionable. If you want somebody to take action make it clear what you want them to do.
2. Send Text messaging for rapid responses
It is common for an investor to read the email but not immediately reply. After all – she is just trying to get through 99 unread emails. If the email requires an action then send a follow-on text 24 hours later. It should simply say, “I wanted to call your attention to the email I sent yesterday – it has 1 action for you.”
3. Ask for short conference calls
I would say the norm for many early-stage companies is somewhere between 6-10 in-person meetings per year. The earlier stage the more likely it is 10 meetings and the later stage the more likely it is 6. In either case it is very helpful to have a series of 30-45 minute calls in between. Don’t have calls for calls sake. Have topics.
4. Always seek input
Aasking your board about market entry strategies, new launces etc. will keep them engaged. It will also often yield unexpected results. For starters your board may have a different perspective than you. That role as sparring partner can be useful if for nothing else than to test your resolve.
5. Assigns tasks
Ask for help reviewing your press release. Ask your VC to send a critical email to a contact. Ask them for a meeting to review your pricing strategy with you. Ask for intros. Ask them to mention you to the press, speak about you on stage when they do public events, whatever.
6. Fight hard, yield when appropriate and always be willing to take feedback
Be willing to take feedback when warranted to achieve credibility.
7. Manages board meeting expectations (before & after)
Ask after the board meeting, “How did it go? Where could we improve? What worked for you? Where did we fall short?” And give feedback on performance.
8. Results & Measurement oriented
Set clear goals for what needs to be achieved. E.g. not just setting revenue goals but “quality of revenue” goals and goals “for revenue diversification”. By offering metrics board discussions are a lot more quantifiable and objective.