5 Steps to Build A Benevolent Army For Your Startup

jamie finney
Dec 18, 2020 · 4 min read

As a founder, you will meet hundreds of people who want to see you succeed. They can come from your friends, family, random coffee meetings (when there is not a pandemic), fortuitous email intros, ‘get to know you’ zoom meetings, conferences, and everything in between.

These are allies to you and your company, and they will become too many to remember.

You may not know exactly how these encounters can serve your company in the moment. In fact, they’re often stuck wondering the same thing themselves.

That’s okay. Just don’t lose them.

Real Examples of Monthly Updates Coming in Handy

  • Sales: A B2B founder asks her list if they are connected to a key decision-maker at her ideal customer company (with that person’s LinkedIn account included in the email). >> Someone on the list whom she hasn’t talked to in a few months connects her with this dream customer contact.
  • Hiring: A candidate wants to understand how the company is doing and what the culture is like under the founder’s leadership. >> The founder shares his last six updates. The candidate loves the founder’s transparency and clear communication. Hired!
  • Funding: After initially passing on investment, investors see consistent progress and clear communication from the founder. >> The investors decide they must support this founder — mind changed, check written!

No joke. We could go on all day with examples like these.

5 steps to get started on your monthly update list.

This list often starts as just old coworkers, friends, and maybe your family. These are often people you call, text, DM, but probably not email. Your catchups happen with the cycles of life. That’s okay. Add their emails to a list.

Assuming this is not day one of your founder journey, go through your calendar or emails and add everyone who you connected with who you think would be excited to be brought along your journey. What encounters left you thinking, “let’s keep in touch!”?

2. Send the first email.

Even if it is only to three people, send a message that sounds something like:

“As a supporter of [your company], I’d like to send you some regular updates. These will help me practice disciplined metric tracking and help us keep in touch throughout the [your company name] journey. Once a month is all. Okay with you?”

If done right, this will reduce the time it takes to write these emails each month to less than 30 minutes. Choose your key metrics (carefully) and a few sections for you to update the narrative and ‘asks.’ Don’t worry about making the perfect template. You can always iterate as you go.

Below are some great examples. They come from mostly tech and venture-funded companies and are geared toward investors. Don’t worry about that — this habit will go as far as raising money from investors will anyway. Copy, paste, and tweak to make it fit your business.

*If you do have investors, just start by making a template for your investors that includes the sensitive metrics and info. Then, clone that template, remove the sensitive stuff, and send to the non-investor list.

*Err on the side of over-sharing (and common sense). It will be appreciated and build buy-in. Don’t worry about people stealing your secrets–other people are too busy with their own stuff to try to take on yours.

Assuming you already followup with folks after connecting with them, just add a single line to your followup message (I like it as a PS):

PS — I’ll add you to our regular updates on [your company] so you can keep up withour progress. Once a month is all. Okay with you?”

Forgot to add folks right after you met them?

Just go through your calendar or emails and add everyone who you connected with who you think would be excited to be brought along your journey. What encounters left you thinking, “let’s keep in touch!”?

You might miss the natural post-meeting introduction to your update list, but most folks will appreciate being included anyway.

  • Don’t get hung up on the perfect update. Just hist send on the same day each month. Commit to it.
  • Be real. This is not a marketing list. If things are hard, which they will be, talk about it. The more honest you are, the more willing readers are to help.
  • Update your template as the business evolves. Key metrics change; stories evolve.

And one more thing — these updates are as much about you, the founder, as they are the people on the list. This habit of metric tracking and clear communication will pay dividends. In fact, one study found a correlation between frequent, quality monthly updates and startup success.

Update written in typewriter
Update written in typewriter
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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