As a reminder, the purpose of “Startup Snacks” is to provide the startup community with ONE actionable item per week to move your startup forward. Some of it will be original content, some not. No pride here – and frankly, why recreate the wheel if somebody has already put together some great content or tools that will benefit the startup community. If it can help you in your journey I will share it!
If you missed any of the previous “Startup Snacks” – you can find them here!
Stakeholder Engagement and Communication
This week’s snack deals with communication and engagement with your stakeholders. Whether it is your investors, customers, partners, team members, etc.. it is always a good idea to leverage this network from the beginning of your relationship with them.
There are a number of strategies and tools for improving upon stakeholder engagement. Let’s start with the following suggestions from Visible:
- Regular stakeholder meetings. These meetings provide an open dialogue, to address any of their concerns or their ideas for the future. Stakeholder meetings are often effective ways to discuss issues quickly, rather than going back-and-forth in written media.
- Consistent financial reporting. Financial reports give stakeholders a feeling of being connected to the business, and assure them that they understand how the business is doing and the direction that the business is moving in. Many investors or team members may have key insights regarding the financial reports they’ve seen, and may be able to help the business with these insights.
- Scheduled Updates Newsletters can be prepared for all stakeholders at once, updating them in a single sweep regarding the current initiatives of the business. This is a fast, effective, and easy way to keep all stakeholders on the same page.
- Timely communications. When investors and team members have questions, they need to be answered quickly. The more involved the investors are in day-to-day operations, the more likely they are to provide accurate direction.
There are a number of outstanding tools for keeping your stakeholders engaged. Here are just a few – from low charge to no charge:
- Visible – Update investors, raise capital and track metrics from a single platform.
- Foundersuite – Beautiful, professional investor updates.
- Carta – Securely send updates with financials, key hires, customer wins, and company performance in the same place you manage your cap table.
- Capboard – Find the best templates to send updates and reports to your existing or potential investors. Edit and send in few clicks. Definitely drill into this site for sample templates, communication methods, and KPIs to include in your updates. FREE for up to 25 stakeholders.
Here is a sample of a Y-Combinator Investor Update Template:
It’s been an awesome, but intense, [summer/fall/winter/spring]. Many things are tracking well, but there are some challenges we could use your help with (more below).
As always, I’ve included charts for our revenue growth, cash on hand, and burn rate.
- Revenue with Change %: X$, Y% MoM
- Cash on Hand: X$
- Burn Rate: X$
- How You Can Help – We have some problems with [Product Initiative]. We are lacking experience in [X]. Can you recommend a [Mentor/Partner/etc.] to come in and help (this can be a paid coaching position)?
- I have been approached by a VC who wants to potentially pre-empt a [Series X]. How do I best deal with this?
- We have lost 2 important [customers/potential customers] due to [X]. Can any of you spare some time to talk through our positioning statements and sales process?
- I am worried that [key competitor X] has just closed a [$X Round] (see here for more info), how shall we best deal with this (if at all)?
- A quick qualitative recap of how your month went. Be as quick and to the point as possible here. The point is to have your investors read the entire update and offer help.
Additionally, a stakeholder analysis can be extremely helpful in segmenting and prioritizing who to target. Again, from Visible here is a template for performing a stakeholder analysis:
- How interested are they in the company’s success? How much do they personally have riding upon it?
- What are they motivated by, when they are engaged with the business?
- What information are they most interested in?
- How do they feel about the business? What is their disposition to you, the business owner?
- If they are not positively inclined, why? What would make them support the business more?
- What resources do they have at their disposal, that they could use to help the business?
- What opposition could they possibly present, when considering business strategies?
The Bottom Line
Just do it.
We do it at the Growth Lab – every month we send out a note to our stakeholders and the response is very positive. Communication and transparency can go a long way. Your stakeholders are there to help you – and they want to help you – but if they don’t know where you stand, or what you need assistance with it will most likely be crickets.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!