You’re about to hit Send on your latest monthly update to your existing investors. And you’re feeling pretty great about it. It includes all of your company’s latest achievements – you even highlighted a few of them with little thumbs-up emojis. With any luck you’ll get several of those “keep up the awesome work” replies – instant dopamine rush!
But wait – before you click Send ask yourself: are you giving your investors the whole story? What about your company’s struggles?
Some founders tend to withhold bad news from their investors because they’re afraid of the reaction: the investors may be mad or disappointed, think less of the team or even pass on investing in the next round. Here’s the thing: existing investors want *all* the updates – the good, the bad and the ugly. As shareholders they deserve that transparency. Also, hiding or sugar coating bad news often prevents investors from helping the company with its biggest needs until it’s too late.
Including these three sections make your investor updates honest and actionable:
A complement to Highlights, Lowlights tell investors what the company is struggling with. Don’t sugarcoat or be dramatic – just tell it like it is. These could include things like falling short of the revenue plan, losing a key team member, or longer than expected sales cycles. Include enough detail so investors are 100% clear what the struggles are. And they’re a great segue to …
As CEO it’s your job to tell your investors what you really need help with. Include at least 2-3 well defined Asks in every update. These could be connections to potential customers or partners, advice on sales strategy, or referrals to key hires. Make them as specific and actionable as possible. Welcome the assistance with open arms!
No matter what the update is, the context is very different if you have thirteen months of runway vs. three. Keep it simple by listing Cash on Hand, Current Burn Rate, and Runway. Runway should be bold and highlighted in red if it’s 6 months or less. If you’re afraid investors will be mad there’s only 5 months of runway left, imagine how they’ll feel when they find out at the last minute it’s almost zero!
Full transparency trumps optimism when it comes to communicating with your stakeholders. If your updates are all sunshine and rainbows your investors will be skeptical anyway. Including Lowlights, Asks, and the Financial Snapshot in every investor update tells the whole story. And being honest about your struggles usually makes your investors want to help you even more.
Now instead of your investors replying with “keep up the awesome work”, they can provide real suggestions to help your business. Less dopamine rush, more chance for long term success!