How to hold a successful social enterprise board meeting

Things are going well at your social enterprise. In fact, they’re going so well, you’ve had to bite the bullet and incorporate the firm.

That means your burgeoning business now proudly displays a ‘ltd’ after its name, and you’re a director, along with your co-founder.

Exciting!

Then, you have your first board meeting. And it all feels a bit too real. You didn’t get into it for this; your social enterprise is born from a deep desire to change the world. Why waste time sitting in meetings pouring over finance statistics and drinking too much coffee?

The reason is simple; if you’ve incorporated your social enterprise, the board meetings you hold are vital. They’re brilliant opportunities to discuss current performance, and, most importantly, plan for the future.

Here’s how to make the most of your board meetings.

Plan them in advance

Meetings are only effective if they’re planned in advance. Equally, they’ll only keep to time if you know what’s coming.

So, before you hold your next board meeting, do the following:

  • put together an agenda by asking every attendee for the subjects they’d like to discuss (alongside the usual stuff – finance, sales performance and previous actions);
  • if there’s a specific topic which demands significant discussion, highlight it early on by devoting the lion’s share of the meeting time on the agenda;
  • ask attendees for any queries or proposals in advance so that everyone can come prepared with their own thoughts;
  • if there are any difficult issues that need tackling, don’t wait for the board meeting – tackle them beforehand and use the meeting to discuss progress.

Be careful with your timings, too. Obviously, you’ll want to pick a date when everyone can attend, but try and avoid meeting late in the day or during busy periods for the enterprise; you want everyone to be focused 100% on the meeting.

Always look ahead

We noted at the start of this blog that strategic future planning is absolutely key when it comes to holding a successful board meeting. Without it, such get-togethers are nothing more than idle, business-related chats.

Of course, you should talk about what has come before and ensure everyone has delivered on their promises, but spend more time looking ahead.

At least two-thirds of your board meeting should be spent planning for the future; don’t get lost in the nitty-gritty of debtors lists and Google Analytics statistics.

Get strategic

The worst social enterprise board meetings are the ones that lack substance. Attendees talk for hours about their desire to incite change and launch new initiatives, but the chances of anything actually coming to fruition are virtually zero if there’s no strategy placed behind it all.

Use your board meetings to plan exactly how those big ideas can be achieved. Break them up into bite-sized chunks and add some accountability by setting timescales for completion and promises that progress will be discussed at the next meeting.

Don’t dismiss the big issues

Sweeping stuff under the rug is easy; tackling big issues head-on is hard.

Which tactic does your social enterprise opt for come board meeting time?

If you’re all willing to focus on the big issues that are negatively affecting your business, it’ll stand a far better chance of beating them and reaching even greater heights.

It’ll be tough, and you may fall out (see below), but sticking one’s head in the sand isn’t going to help your social enterprise achieve its main goals.

Don’t be afraid to disagree

Board meetings are rarely friendly gatherings. By their very nature, they incite debate and, often, disagreement.

The stuff you’ll discuss will be high-level and key to the success of your social enterprise, therefore it’s only natural you’ll hit upon topics and ideas that result in some tense discussions.

This is good; it demonstrates that the board cares. You all want the social enterprise to succeed, and the fact that you need to battle out the big stuff should be embraced – it’ll result in a strategic plan that is properly considered, debated and realistic.

Wrapping up

You should leave every board meeting at your social enterprise feeling invigorated, focused and positive – they shouldn’t be easy or used as an excuse to get away from the day-to-day running of the enterprise.

What’s more, if you use our tips above, your board meetings will become a calendar event you relish.

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