How should entrepreneurs work with their Boards?

Answered by: Tien Tzuo, CEO, Zuora

Category: Partnership & Fundraising

I've been really lucky to pick investors and have a really good Board and working relationship. I'll give you a contrasting example. An early stage entrepreneur reached out because he was struggling. We got together for coffee and he was griping about a Board member who didn’t really understand, who was making recommendations without knowing the nuances of what they did. I told him that he needed to take another direction - to go have dinner with the Board member. I talked to him about how the Board member was in the foxhole with him and to stop judging or looking down on him. I told him to go out to dinner with the Board member and talk to him and hear out his frustrations with the entrepreneur while the entrepreneur airs his frustrations. Because I'm sure the Board members got a whole similar talk track going on about his frustrations. And the entrepreneur did that. Now they're in a really good place. But it was trending in the wrong direction.
I see that happening a lot. Hopefully you do a good job when you pick an investor But ,once the board member is in, they're in and they want this thing to be a success as well. So you have a common goal which is to make this thing a success. How do you remain aligned in that common goal? It doesn't mean you agree with everything but how do you stay aligned on what the main issues are, and where you want to be at the next goal? The arguments or the discussions can then be about techniques, etc.. Usually, it's bringing in diverse ideas that get you the right the best idea but that alignment at a high level is really important.