How do you manage board members? Like you manage anyone else!

I’m a huge Mark Suster fan, so I think his post, “8 Tips To Get the Most Out of Your Investors and Board,” is outstanding, and a must-read for any entrepreneur.  I don’t think there’s anything I can add:

What I will point out is that all of the principles that Mark outlines ought to apply to your employees as well.  Consider the points that he and Datasift CEO Rob Bailey make:

  • Spend time building investor relationships long before you raise money. 
  • By spending more time educating your board on your business you get more valuable advice from them
  • Your goal should be to turn your VCs into extended members of your team to get real value from them
  • Understanding where your VC partner sits in their respective fund
    and where their fund is in the cycle of its investment lifecycle will
    help you understand your VCs behavior.
  • Email updates frequently
  • Send texts, not emails, for rapid responses
  • Ask for short conference calls
  • Always seek input
  • Assign tasks
  • Fight hard, yield when appropriate, and always be willing to take feedback
  • Manage expectations (before and after meetings)
  • Results & measurement oriented

Every single one applies to employees as well.  Even the most VC-centric, understanding the fund cycle, applies to employees.  You need to understand where they are in their career, as well as their monetary situation, to better understand their behavior.

The meta point is that the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is in treating board members as either professors (who are grading you) or a nuisance (to be kept in the dark as much as possible).  Board members and investors are just like employees–the difference is that while you can’t fire them, they pay you (rather than vice versa).

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