Building Your Personal Board of Directors

Matt Preuss
Marketing Manager

When times are tough (which they will be) being a founder can often feel like you are alone on an island. Having people to open up to and work your way through the troughs is key not only for your mental health, but your company’s health as well. Establishing a trusted circle of mentors, advisors, and peers, your personal board of directors, from day one is a great way to prepare for what lies ahead in your company building journey.

What is a personal board of directors?

A traditional board of directors is “ a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an organization.” A personal board of directors is a group of individuals that can offer advice and direction for both personal and life decisions. Your personal board should be a trusted group you can lean on when making difficult decisions. Just as a board of directors holds an organization accountable, the same could be said for your personal board of directors.

Who should be in my personal board of directors?

Finding the right mix of individuals for your personal board of directors can be tricky. They should be a collection of individuals that are willing to give honest and candid feedback. Generally speaking, this means leaving family and close friends off of your board of directors. The team at Harvard Business Review suggests including a mixture of the following people:

  • “First, you need fans — people who support you and will deliver tough feedback with kindness and good intent.”
  • “Second, recruit potential sponsors — senior leaders who can advocate for you when it’s time for a promotion.”
  • “Third, include at least one critic. These people may be the toughest to approach, but they can be the most valuable.”

No one wants to face criticism; but it is an important aspect of personal and company growth. This mixture of individuals will be able to help with professional development, company strategy, and major life decisions.

Assembling your personal board of directors

Asking people to be on your personal board of directors can be an intimidating tasks. We suggest building a list of people you would find to be a good fit (using the criteria from above). Start with your top choices and make your way down the list. If you get no response or a simple “no,” don’t fret. Simply move on to the next person on your list. If you’ve done your research and built a proper list most of the people should be eager to help you.

As we wrote in our post, “Startup Leaders Should Have Mentors. Here’s How to Find One,” we suggest when reaching out, “you should make sure to 1) explain why you’re reaching out to them specifically and 2) ask to meet with them once instead of asking them to commit right away. Those two things will make them much more likely to say yes.”

Well a personal board of directors can’t guarantee success it can certainly help as you struggle through the inevitable tough times of building a startup. If you’re interested in learning more about approach mentors and advisors, be sure to check out our mentors post here.

You may also enjoy:
Product Updates
Product Update: Turn Emails Into Insights With Visible AI Inbox
Structured data. The holy grail of business intelligence. Structured data unlocks a realm of possibilities, from setting benchmarks to enhancing decision-making processes. Yet, in the venture capital landscape, accessing reliable, structured data remains a formidable challenge. This is precisely why we created the Visible AI Inbox. With unique features like automated metric detection and file parsing, the Visible AI Inbox stands out as a pioneering solution for portfolio monitoring. Discover how it can transform your data strategy by meeting with our team. Turning email into insights We believe that investors should spend time sourcing new deals and helping founders, not manually copying and pasting data from email 🙂. The AI Inbox helps aggregate insights that exist siloed in data, files, and updates across a venture firm. Updates from founders often stay stuck in one team member's inbox because it's too time-consuming to extract and enter the data and files into a more centralized repository. Visible AI Inbox makes this possible within seconds. Requests + AI Inbox = A Complete Picture The addition of the AI Inbox continues to advance our market-leading portfolio monitoring solution. The pairing of Requests + the AI Inbox will give investors a holistic view of portfolio company performance across a fund. Visible continues to be the most founder-friendly tool on the market. We’ll continue to build tools in existing workflows where both founders and investors live every day. How Does it Work? Visible AI Inbox works in three simple steps. Forward emails to a custom AI inbox email address Visible AI automatically maps data and files to portfolio companies Investors can review and approve content before it is saved From there, dashboards, tear sheets, and reports are all automatically updated on Visible. Learn more about how Visible AI Inbox can streamline workflows at your firm by meeting with our team. FAQ Will this be available on all plans? Visible AI Inbox is only available on certain plans. Get in touch with your dedicated Investor Success Manager if you want to explore adding this to your account. How is Visible addressing privacy and security with Visible AI Inbox? No data submitted through the OpenAI API is used to train OpenAI models or improve OpenAI’s service offering. Visible AI Inbox leverages OpenAI GPT 4 and proprietary prompts to extract data in a structured way and import it into Visible. If you’re uncomfortable with utilizing OpenAI to optimize your account, you can choose not to utilize this feature. Please feel free to reach out to our team with any further questions. These processes adhere to the guidelines outlined in Visible’s privacy policy and SOC 2 certification. Visible AI Inbox Best Practices We'll be sharing best practices for how investors are leveraging Visible AI Inbox in our bi-weekly newsletter, the Visible Edge. Stay in the loop with best practices and product updates by subscribing below:
Metrics and data
[Webinar] VC Portfolio Data Collection Best Practices
Customer Stories
Case Study: How Moxxie Ventures uses Visible to increase operational efficiency at their VC firm
How to Start and Operate a Successful SaaS Company