5 Ways to Make Investor Communication Better
It’s not them. It’s you.
That’s right—the sour relationship between you and your investor—it’s your fault. Yes, bad blood between a startup CEO and one of the company’s financiers may be a plague on both houses, but the responsibility largely falls on the founder to prevent the affliction.
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones. Maybe you have managed to preserve the sacred union between founder and investor. Good. But your work is not complete! Like all relationships it’s bound to fall apart without strong trust and communication. It’s not good enough to simply declare an open door policy for emails, calls or visits. Set a schedule and stick to it. Provide regular updates that outline vital metrics and allot time for investors to have the opportunity to ask you anything. The cycle of updates and willingness to be transparent mitigates one-off asks and actually helps you stay focused on the most important aspects of the business. Here’s how to do it well:
- Go one-on-one—Set up individual investor calls. Allowing time for long-form discussions, brainstorming, individual inquiries and just shooting the breeze or sweet talking to help make every investor feel important. This is essential for those unable to attend in-person meetings. Do your best to schedule interactions outside of the office, too. If you and your investors are able to make time for lunch or drinks, you can better understand your investors on a social level as well.
- Regular conference calls— Follow up on written reports by setting up a call to field questions or any other particulars that pique an investor’s interest. Share a conversation and you and your investors will remember why you fell for each other in the first place.
- Write monthly reports: Keep it simple. Investors want updates in five key areas: how much cash is in the bank, how many months until $0, how the team is functioning, how are the KPIs and how they can help you. Having a hard copy provides your investors with a reference sheet when they need quick answers about your company.
- In-person meetings— Get everyone in a room and let investors pepper you with questions like you’re facing a firing squad. The physical meeting simply can’t be replaced, even if out-of-town investors can’t make it. Investors will appreciate the chance to meet face-to-face.
- Ask what you’re doing wrong –Vulnerability is a great thing if it strengthens relationships. Open yourself up to criticism from your investors. Let them take you to task, you’ll be better off for it. And to improve your communication strategy, ask each investor what else you could do to keep them properly up-to-date on the company’s health.
Investor communication is no less important than communication with your employees. Everyone involved in the business needs to stay on top of what’s going on. And investors will have a much tougher time staying in the loop while managing a portfolio of other companies and spending most days not interacting with your business at all. So don’t let communication gaps form and relationships fizzle. Keep the feedback loop going and let harmony reign. Now say it together: ‘til liquidation do we part.