March 6, 2019

How do you feel about boards of directors/stakeholders?

Calvin Ho @CalvinHo

Hello world!

I don't like boards. Or more precisely, boards of directors and the stakeholders that they need to satisfy. In running and talking with various customers I'm seeing a noticeable trend: The larger the board of a company, the longer it takes to make a decision, and more time, money, and opportunity is wasted as a result.

In my experience board members require constant validation from others that they are making the right choices. There's always some level of "I own this decision/ I want this to happen because I've made the choice and I need to prove my value" even if it is an incorrect decision or a non-concern that the company now is dumping manpower and money into.

This feels like a classic case of too many chefs in the kitchen, and is partially why the bootstrap life is for me. To me, the freedom to own my choices coupled with the speed of decision making are critical in growing a business IMHO.

Perhaps I'm missing something, as this is my first time starting a business. There's always much to learn, and I would love to know what other IndieHackers thoughts are on this!

  • A fan of going fast
  1. 2

    The flip side is that an experienced board of directors can provide a lot of value to your company, give you credibility and open doors. Especially in your first business if you don't really know what you're doing.

    When I was in my mid-20s and raised VC funding, I was very inexperienced but having a board of directors and advisors helped migrate that lack of experience and provided a lot of value.

    A board that can't make a decision and gets in the way of progress is a poorly constructed board.

    1. 1

      Great insight, thanks! I suppose I haven't encountered many well-functioning boards yet and my sights are skewed.

  2. 2

    A board generally will form and increase in size to reflect the ownership of the company, possibly post investment. It’s a separate set of problems I guess, though those problems are traded for the investment that come with those seats. I follow the bootstrapped model too, though I can see how and why investment could be needed post product/market fit as well as the compromises that would require. If your company is fledgling, but faces a well funded and equally talented competitor, I wouldn’t want funding to be their positive differential.

    1. 1

      That's a good point to make. I also see traps in how VC funded companies try to design a product with that money and shoehorn it into the market instead of getting market validation by seeing if people actually pay for the product/service. Another reason why I enjoy the bootstrap model. If nobody is paying for your service, you wont have the money to develop it and cant waste time and capital on an idea that just wont work.

  3. 2

    Totally agree with every bit of the above. Nice post!

  4. 1

    Sounds terrible