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Building Your First Board Pack
Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash

Building Your First Board Pack

A good board pack is one that directors receive well in advance of the board meeting. Its content agreed. Authorised by the chair and CEO. It contains a balance of relevant information. It is concise. It’s up-to-date and, doesn’t overload directors with detail. However, what should you consider when building your first board pack?

It is presented in a logical, easy-to-navigate format and last-minute revisions have been minimised as much as possible. Get the board pack right and you are laying the foundations for a productive, efficient board meeting with informed decision-making and good governance.

What Should Go into a fully formed Board Pack?

ItemPurpose
AgendaWhat the meeting will focus on and the areas of the business to be discussed. An opportunity for the attendees to suggest additional items or question others.
Minutes From the Last MeetingAllows members to ensure that the meeting minutes are correct. If there are any errors, they can flag them before the meeting so the Secretary can adjust them.
CEO ReportAn Executive summary giving the context for where the company is right now, as well as the factors that have affected the business since the last meeting.
Financial ReportTells the members how the business is doing financially, indicates how the company is performing in relation to its KPIs and gives a forecast for future performance.
Board Committee ReportsLets directors know the work that each committee is doing between board meetings. This could comprise an important progress report or summarise the results of the committee’s research and recommendations.
Board CorrespondenceThis could include enquiries and questions from shareholders about important business issues.
Background InformationThis should relate to the topics up for discussion at the meeting, allowing all members access to the details they need to inform the conversation.

Note. This is the basic document list for a board meeting pack. At times, you will need to add extra material. This should be done on a case-by-case basis and depends on the circumstances of the business at any given time.

However, what should you consider when building your FIRST board pack?

Your first board pack should inform as much as it can. If it leaves members with too many further questions, you haven’t included enough relevant detail. This can result in a waste of both your time and the chair’s time. Start with just, one or two slides/pages.

What are the biggest issues you are facing as a business right now, and what are some options to address this (feel free to indicate the “preferred” or “suggested” way)?

Rather than getting stuck in the weeds, better to focus your board’s energy on strategic issues.

  • What is your current mission?
  • What is the next milestone?
  • What are the challenges standing in the way of reaching the milestone?

Mindful that when companies run out of cash, they typically fail and, that the first commandment of building a start-up is “thou shall never run out of cash”, at least one slide needs to cover the following:

  • A forecast with an expected cash-out date
  • Monthly burn rate  (ideally as a time series)
  • Monthly management accounts and a balance sheet

In addition to the key strategic issue, it can be helpful to have a rotating set of “deep dives” where you look more deeply at a certain part of the business. This can help uncover “problem areas” or even opportunities you might not have been thinking of. For instance, you can rotate between:

  • Product Roadmap; development milestones associated with the MVP maybe
  • Team; include your team slide and show where you are planning to hire. It doesn’t need to be fancy  but salaries are likely to be your biggest expense, and a team slide helps align everyone on where the money is really going.
  • Go-To-Market (GTM) playbook; audience, marketing plan, and sales strategy

In Summary

Board reporting is a key topic as start-ups think about how best to engage their investors and other stakeholders. With a bit of investment, good board packs can form valuable tools both for internal audiences and also for your board and investors

About Gary Pine

An ideas person - comfortable with creating and sharing ideas. Takes educated risks. And, a proud Bristolian. What more is there to like?

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