Building our board early was one of the two or three things I did that turned 3Pillar into an actual business. Because I get asked a lot about building boards, I wrote about five methods for optimizing your boardroom.
However, a recent email made me think of some additional points to add, especially as it relates to building a board as a first-time CEO and choosing the right people.
Bootstrap your board before you expand your board
As you begin to build your board, limit the size. Start by adding two external board members for the first few meetings. Establish a rhythm of communication. Develop a standard meeting agenda. And learn how to leverage external board members.
The bottom line – learn how to manage and leverage a board before you add too many people.
Find the right people not the big names.
More than anything, you want folks that you can lean on to help navigate the waters of entrepreneurship and leadership. People that can help you scale. Look for people with experience that you respect and can learn from. Take your time to find the right ones, not the names.
One might be a serial entrepreneur that has been through this phase of business before. One might be a product technologist that excels at technology innovation, lean startups, and pivots. Another might be an active industry executive who knows your field very well (or a directly very adjacent one) and can provide insights into where it the current state. Perhaps an experienced marketer would be helpful.
Choose people who will collaborate together.
Sit down, think through the board table and the expertise that would be beneficial to you as a CEO. And then, when you’re choosing members, make sure to pick people who will collaborate well together (not always agree with each other, but collaborate together).
Board makeup is essential. It can speed you up, or, it can slow you down. Take the time to put together the right board, not just a board. Make sure that it becomes an accelerator, not a drag.