Venture capitalists poured an eye-popping $48.3 billion into new U.S. companies in 2014 -- the most since 2000. The 2014 total was up 61 percent from 2013 and was more than double the total invested in 2009. But once new businesses have secured funding, how can entrepreneurs foster a strong ongoing relationship with their investors?
As the co-founder and president of monthly subscription service Petbox, I have found one simple tool that can ensure a strong relationship between early-stage startups and their investors: a monthly MAP, or marketing action plan.
The concept behind the MAP is simple: It provides a full report of everything that happened in the previous month and spells out your goals for the next 30 days.
To get the best out of this guide, make sure your MAP is detailed and specific. Bring your investors in on your process and your progress. Provide specifics on your cash burn, demonstrating how you are operating “lean and mean,” something investors always appreciate. Share the good and bad news. If you’ve had success, show it off. If your company has had setbacks, don’t shy away from including them in your MAP. Early-stage startup investors know that building a new business is not easy, and they understand there will be challenges along the way. If you tried something that didn’t work in the previous month, the MAP is your chance to lay out your action plan for new approaches.
How is the MAP different from the monthly check-ins, where founders have to provide investors updates? Most investors are looking to be included in your journey when investing in your early stage start-up business. Compared to a typical monthly update, the MAP provides a deeper dive into what your business actually looks like on a monthly basis. The result is that you will keep your investor base engaged throughout the journey. It is critical that you maintain strong communication channels with your investor base, because you never know when you might need help along the way.
What to include in your MAP:
- Summary of previous month’s activities and numbers
- Objectives for the month ahead
- Updates on key areas including Development, Sales & Marketing, and Operations
- Media coverage, as well thought leadership pieces and key blog posts published by company leadership
- Updates on new partnership programs
- Advertising campaigns
- Update on funding
- Staffing updates, including a full list of the current team line up
In addition to helping transform your investor relations, the MAP can also yield some additional perks for your business. For instance, by laying out your monthly goals and objectives ahead of time, you will have a much easier time avoiding distractions and keeping your business on-track. Another bonus? Most investors will share the MAP with their friends and associates, which will often lead to new investors.
The MAP is a key tool for the first year of operating your business. Creating a MAP will take no more than an hour of your time every month and will keep the lines of communication open, ensuring relationships with investors remain strong, and ultimately helping early-stage startups succeed.