Every month, I send an email out to our shareholders letting them know the key performance indicators. This monthly was a habit drilling into me by a former board member turned advisor.
Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tricks to get the most out of these communications.
In the emails, I call attention to highlights, low lights, and an ask for help.
What I’ve learned is that the last item, the ask for help, is actually the most valuable in keeping your shareholders and external stakeholders informed and engaged.
Since I started sending this email out to shareholders, I started to take pieces of it and sending them out to a broader audience, in particular, “friends of the company”, investors I may approach for funds down the road, and other founders. One of those other founders quizzed me on the outcomes of this shareholder updates, and what follows is the Q&A from that exchange.
1. How wide of a net do you cast with update email like this? Everyone in your network? Select people?
I try to do regular updates on a regular basis, but not every recipient gets the same info. The more involved in the company, the more often and more detail they get.
2. Who gets what?
Here is a snapshot of how and what I message to the various stakeholders.
The “Friends of the Company” is a catch-all bucket that includes anyone I’ve interacted with who might have an interest in our success. A shortlist includes:
- Service providers (bankers, lawyers, accountants, consultants, etc)
- Accelerator staff
- Government contacts (eg. embassy contacts if selling overseas, chamber of commerce organizers if selling locally, etc)
- Financiers/Investment Bankers
- Potential Acquirers
3. What have the results been so far?
It’s a non-trivial exercise to keep each group up to date, but the results have been worthwhile. I’d attribute most of our $3.5M in angel funding (with check sizes ranging from $5k – $200k) having come from these regular updates, as well as:
- Referrals to key hires we’ve made
- Introductions to target customers
- Service providers and contractors (especially useful when faced with difficult technical blocker)
4. How much success have you had with people forwarding this onto people in their networks?
I don’t track forwards, but every month I put out a call for help, I’ve always received a handful of replies with resources and introductions.
It really depends on what the ask is – the community of shareholder and external stakeholders is very diverse, so when I put out a call for Citrix specialists, I’ll naturally get different people replying than when I ask for sales comp help. This is a big benefit to raising smaller amounts of money from more people, rather than concentrating investment from a smaller pool.
5. Are you using a tool to manage your communications?
I use Close.io for my “CEO” CRM. We use Salesforce.com across the rest of the business. Having built out salesforce many, many times across many, many companies, I didn’t want to build all the business rules needed to keep the data separate, and Close suites my needs.