Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Yes, You need a Board


I’m surprised at how many startups and growing companies in Atlanta (less than $5mm revenue) don’t have a Board.    Whatever you call your board members (Advisors, Directors, etc…) I believe the perspective and value they provide are critical for any company that wants to go faster.

Board members and board meetings help entrepreneurs and their teams establish the bigger picture rhythm. Hopefully, you are doing your daily standup checkins, and perhaps weekly team meetings and monthly deep dives, but Board meetings are different. They help you revisit your 5-, 3-, 1-year and even Quarterly goals and strategy.  It’s a refreshing “slow down to go faster” routine that should be embraced.

In my personal experience, I knew the Board was providing me the most value when I left feeling the most uncomfortable. A good Board will challenge you when you get comfortable. They will point out big areas where you are weak or completely missing the boat. Many times, they also provide great support personally for entrepreneurs. If they are the right people, they’ve likely been there, done that, and can relate to the stress that entrepreneurs face in a young, growing company.    Entrepreneurs are naturally optimistic. We are dreamers and big idea people.  A Board help balance this out with reminders to check in with reality, measure the right things, and keep you in gear. It’s important to develop a thick skin in all this because you don’t want the tough love to hurt your optimism and excitement for the business. Just go in with the right expectations, and you will end up gaining tons of good energy.

This is one of those items that investors require from startups where they invest money: to form a Board of Directors. To me, even if you aren’t raising money, it’s an area where a best practice for the big boys will serve you well.


  • Michel says:


    Thanks for writing this post. We’ve had numerous discussions about having a board or a set of advisers; however we’re never quite sure how to structure an arrangement so we end up not doing anything. Are there guidelines anywhere to how formal or informal an agreement can be?

    June 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm
  • SR says:

    Isn’t this against the lean philosophy? Why have a dedicated board when you can take advice from some key mentors?

    June 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm
    • Johnson Cook says:

      There are times when you need mentors to take a deep dive with you. The problem with too many mentor relationships is that they are shallow and the mentors aren’t fully vested to stick out and solve the hard problems… it’s too easy for them to give advice and disappear. Whether you call them mentors or a board, I believe it’s important to have long term relationships that will help you solve deeper, longer term problems and challenges. Also building the relationship will add tons of value and satisfaction to both mentor/director and startup.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:37 pm

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