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A good director is hard to find

Brad Feld, who has written a few great posts on the subject himself, finds a good article on Business Week discussing the different ways that Directors can be terrible.

My real experience in this area has been start-ups and the most common problem I have found is situations where people try to get someone on the board based on that persons resume but that person is not an advocate for the business.  I think part of the responsibility of being involved in a board is that you have to try and help the situation.

Generally speaking, the best way to bring these things into alignment is to get every board member to have put some significant money into the business.  Something that makes them get involved.  Paying board members?  If they have enough stake in the game, they should be willing to work for you for free just to improve the outcome!

In my first business, we had a board and we added a board member who had great relationships, we kind of knew through the grapevine, and loved to name drop.  Unfortunately, I don’t think we ever really benefited from his expertise because we did not know how to push him to help us and he was not sufficiently motivated to do so.  He had put no money into the business, he had limited upside and no downside.  This time around and in the future, to join the board, you write a check.  I have found that works much better.

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