Friday, 22 January 2010

Board meeting or Bored Meeting?

This week we had Garlik’s monthly Board meeting. We gathered in the hallowed office of our venture capital investor and updated The Money on how the business is performing. The Many Headed Money hangs on to your every word. They miss nothing. Woe betide you if your numbers don’t add up!

In my experience you can think of your monthly Board meeting as a right pain in the behind or you can use it in a positive way. As a busy entrepreneur, you work flat out on ten things at the same time, wrestling with the day to day challenges. But once a month you are forced to press the pause button, take a step back and look at your business. To me that’s a good thing.

A good Board meeting is down to two things. Firstly a Chairman who knows how to chair, keeps to time and to the agenda and makes sure that the key decisions get made. It is very useful to have someone other than the CEO chairing the meeting. I am not a fan of being both CEO and Chairman – they are two very different roles and this really shows up in the Board meeting.

Secondly, preparation, preparation, preparation. I spent a half a day preparing for our two hour Board meeting The week before the Board meeting I produce a 3 or 4 page written Board note, including a half page Executive Summary and a section on each major area of the business. We add to this a “dashboard” with the key business metrics, the monthly management accounts and the minutes of last months Board meeting. That Board pack goes out to all attendees a few days in advance.

Preparing the Board pack is a great way of forcing me to take stock of the business as a whole and think about what direction things are moving in. Even though I have to put aside at least a half day (generally a Saturday afternoon, groan!) it is actually a very useful discipline to get into.

So, if you tend to avoid having a proper Board meeting or you leave them to once a quarter, I would strongly recommend that you put a bit of rigour into you free-wheeling business and subject yourself to the discipline of the monthly Board meeting. Or perhaps I’m just a masochist !

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