The New Standards of a Startup Board

Long gone are the days of lazy, corporate board luncheons. At least that’s what David Beatty, Conway Chair of the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says. According to Beatty, today’s boards are “smaller, harder working, and more expert” and have to “commit the time to do their work.”

If he’s right, startups, which depend heavily on their board of directors for advice, direction and connections, are in luck. But how do you know if your board is measuring up against these new, active standards? Beatty gave a lengthy interview to Jonathan Bailey and Tim Koller of McKinsey & Company that should help you answer the question. 

Are You Getting All You Can from Your Board of Directors” features Beatty, who’s served on more than 35 boards, discussing the new role of boards, offering recommendations for directors and sharing his thoughts on the leadership’s role in working with boards. While he’s speaking mainly about public companies, I think a lot of what he says applies to startup situations as well. The reason you have a board of directors is to provide value to the company at large and to make sure it is living up to its potential and long-term goals.

Check out his answers to questions such as, how the board of a complex, high tech startup develops enough knowledge to add value, and what he sees as the most important change in the way boards function.

Have you built a successful, effective board of directors? Share your tips for getting the most out of your board on Twitter using #TopOfMind or in the comments section below.

Are you getting all you can from your board of directors?

The purpose of the board of directors has always been to validate financial results, protect the assets, counsel the CEO on strategy and to nurture the next generation of leaders. David Beatty, Conway Chair of the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says, “If boards were doing their jobs, there would be no activist opportunities.” Read the interview questions with Beatty to learn more about the role the board of directors should play.

7 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

It is important to master different communication skills at all levels. Here are seven that every entrepreneur must become an expert at doing.

  1. Listen deeply.
  2. Interpret non-verbal cues.
  3. Manage expectations.
  4. Productive pushback.
  5. Be concise.
  6. Confidently state your value and differentiation.
  7. Know your why.

5 things millennials should start doing now for retirement

Millennials will have to one day retire. Even though the end doesn’t seem near, it would be smart for them to prep for that day. Here are the top tips from Holly Perez, consumer money expert at Intuit and Kali Hawkl, founder/blogger of Common Sense Millennial.

  1. Chip away at existing debt.
  2. Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement.
  3. Or if you’re self-employed… sign up for a Solo 401(k) or SEP IRA.
  4. Set aside 8% of your yearly salary.
  5. Get familiar with index funds.

Why You Don’t Want to Give Financial Information to All of Your Investors

If you are giving away all of your financials and performance metrics in a funding round with 1 or 2 VCs, 15-20 angels and 4-6 seed funds, it is easy for proprietary information to get leaked out. Therefore, the suggestion would be to provide management updates periodically for your investors. However, assume that what you are sending out will be seen by anyone. Keep your financial performance to your board members. Since there are so many new, early stage investors, you don’t always know whom you can trust. Investor clauses exist for a reason so protect your financial information.

Elevated Level of Part-Time Employment: Post-Recession Norm?

Roughly 7 million Americans are in part time jobs that they don’t enjoy. Economists are wondering if part time employment will be a permanent legacy of the great recession. Over the past year, employers have added 3.3 million full-time employees. However, before 2007, this number was 2 million higher. There have been anecdotal reports that have suggested that employers are cutting hours to prepare for the new health-care law. 

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