It’s easy to push off updates because you don’t feel you have good news. Or you’re busy… But I can say as an active investor and advisor, I wish more of the companies I want to help would share what is going on! Too many calls spend precious time reviewing what could have been in an update. If they are doing that with me, how much time are they spending doing that with the numerous other investors and advisors? Time spent getting up to speed means less time for valuable discussion. Long ago, I started to think of investors & advisors similar to employees in that we’re all working together to build a company on the same team and just like employees, our investors and advisors benefit from well-cadenced updates. Here’s my ask: write an update, share it with your team/investor/advisor, and then ask if it was helpful. I truly think you will value the feedback and be pleasantly surprised.
Here are my tips for writing updates:
They can be super simple to structure and have varying depth
- The Three Ps has almost never failed me (People, Product, Process). Now, as CEO, I add an S for Sales. Not every bucket has to be filled out with lots of content. Sometimes a simple “No new sales” is OK. The key is to write it and get it out on a cadence. As time goes on, you’ll find yourself adding colour for the slow weeks. Maybe we had no sales, but we did learn something that is not working so we’ll try to change it. Or no product release this week, but we’ve been hearing from Sales, even with a slow week, that this new feature would be great… here are some thoughts on it.
- Doesn’t have to be KPIs. This is an opportunity to share whatever you think is best.
- I suggest you pick what works best for you, on your schedule, such that you can write the best content where it does not feel like a chore (so you won’t avoid doing them).
They can build on each other
- I write weekly letters to the company, then when I’m writing monthly to our advisors I can look back at our weeklies to remember what we did. Same with investor updates.
- I start my update by cloning my previous update. This makes my Friday afternoon weekly update feel half done and requires me to quickly review the previous week.
- During the week, I add to my cloned update a list of things I may want to address, highlight, or share. I often put these at the top of the cloned update and then re-organize on Friday.
They can be empowering, aligning, and rewarding
- These updates have forced me to notice little things, big things, and people in a healthier way. I like to share direction so people can move with confidence, remind our team of our goals so we can be aligned on what matters, and identify playmakers of the week who have done something above and beyond. Both my team and investors have commented on how helpful the updates are.
- Reviewing previous updates helps my team and I stay accountable over a longer period of time (weekly > monthly > quarterly).
- They make me feel good in that I’m not hoarding information!
They can help you tell a story
- I love looking back, years ago, at updates. What was important then? What were our goals? How did we do? What issues were really non-issues? Reflection is a powerful tool for learning and requires data. Your updates are data.
- If you decide to write a Year-In-Review or even a blog post on something that happened, you can use these updates as a reference.
Four good categories to cover
To get you up and running, here’s my model, cadence, and a link to a template. Weeklies go to our Company. Quarterlies to Investors and Advisors. They cover the basics using these headers with a short introductory message from me sent via email:
- General is all about the things going on like office moves, employee perk changes, or an industry movement worth highlighting.
- Product tries to answer the question of what we’re building and when it’s going to get delivered to customers. Product gets a lot of space in our company and includes noteworthy items like sprint updates, socialize a software release date, share a post-mortem of an outage, link to demo videos of new features about to be released.
- Sales is where we share our numbers and customer learnings. Sales is where we relay big wins, big losses, new ways our product is being used, and checking in against our company goals.
- People is where we share updates on key employees, when new employees are starting, and who is coming in for in-house interviews in the coming weeks.
Hopefully, this is helpful. Happy updating.
Artwork credit to the incredible Dana Brookes.