I know a number of CEOs who dread their boards of directors. They roll their eyes when they talk about preparing for board meetings or sitting through them. They fear a loss of control. They have an image of boards as a collection of grumpy old men in a smoke-filled, wood-paneled room, banging a gavel, calling for motions and votes and generally following Robert's Rules of Order. The board of your startup doesn't need to be that way. If you build and manage it correctly, it can be an incredibly valuable asset to your business.


Why have a board? Well, for starters, most states require you to have one, although you could be the only member. Eventually, if you take on outside investors, you will need to have a board that represents all shareholders, not just you and other founders and employees. (There are also some good technical and legal reasons to have a board and those are covered well in Brad Feld and Mahendra Ramsinghani's forthcoming book, Startup Boards.)

Even if you technically don't need a board, there are plenty of good reasons to have one.

Everybody Needs a Boss

We are all accountable to others for our work in one way or another. Unless you're the rare startup CEO who owns 100 percent of their own company and doesn't grant employees any options, you have other shareholders. Creating a board of directors is a good reminder that you have a boss—and that you have to play by the rules and maximize value for all ...

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