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As part of the Wasabi Ventures Academy , we do a ton of continuing education for our EiRs (Entrepreneurs-in-Residence). Some of those topics, such as making pitches personal and understanding customer support revenue streams, I have covered over the last weeks here on LinkedIn. So I wanted to continue the trend with a new topic, ongoing communication with advisers, investors, and friends of your startup (NOTE: We will call these people "important people" for the rest of this posting).
It may feel surprising but many early stage startups struggling with communicating their progress and message to the people that often can most impact their business. The class we taught to our EiRs had these key bullets:
Build a List - Founders/Managers need to create a list of key contacts. These should be people you have met, pitched, and have shown real levels of interest. Make sure you have their phone, email, and social media coordinates. The list should not be insanely large and should be culled as people stop listening or being interactive.
Be Regular and Systematic - Communication should be on a schedule. Our suggestion is one per quarter in person/phone/video conferencing and once per quarter via email. You can always contact important people on topics on an ad hoc basis, but be systematic on regular communication.
Know Why You Are Doing It - You communicate with important people because you want to keep them informed and so they can be helpful. Make sure your communications are brisk, but as data-driven as possible. Also, don't forget to ask for help on things they can help with.
Don't Leave Anything to Their Imagination - We are firm believers that you have to be as transparent as possible with important people. Tell them what is working and what is not. If your revenues are lagging, tell them that. If your engineering team is behind schedule on a new product, tell them that. Smart important people get the startup world. They know everything is not perfect. If they don't get that, they are the wrong important people for you.
Important people can make or break your startup. Keeping them informed and engaged is an important part of any founder's job. Follow a few simple rules and allow the important people to help pave your success.