After working diligently on your business plan and targeting potential investors, you’ve managed to snag some much-needed capital.
Good work. Now what?
Essentially, you have to live up to the promise of your pitch and deliver the goods. How you involve your investors in the early phase of your startup will set the tone for the rest of your relationship.
The goal is to make sure you can remain on solid ground with the money people. This will help improve your relationships throughout the business community and open up the possibility to return to those investors for expansion down the road. Before you get there, consider these proactive steps for involving your investors:
Set a board meeting calendar. By setting a board-meeting calendar you're letting your investors know that you're serious about the business and about getting their input. You should actually set the schedule for the entire year. You might have to rearrange some future meetings but at least your calendar will be a start for this process.
Have an investor dinner. Before the first official board meeting, you might want to think about having an informal gathering over dinner for all of your investors and board members. This is a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other. Then when you head into those board meetings you can dispense with the small talk and introductions and get right down to business.
Plan an offsite meeting. This should be a full-day affair. You can break up the day with some recreation like playing golf at a hotel but most of the time you'll be in conference to discuss all the matters pertaining to the company and the direction it is headed. You should save this marathon meeting for the third or fourth meeting of the year. During this meeting you can also have members of your staff come by to make reports or presentations about the growth of the company and problem areas to work through.
Schedule one-on-one meetings. Hopefully your board of investors will be frank and honest at all of the company meetings. However, there might be a huge benefit from maintaining these relationships outside of the boardroom. The occasional one-on-one lunch or dinner meeting is the perfect opportunity to keep those lines of communication open and uncover any "hidden agenda" issues.
Stay out in front of bad news. It's not all going to be "rainbows and unicorns." You'll have some dark days ahead. When trouble happens don't try to bury it in a company report. Get out in front of the bad news and let your investors know you're in top of things. No matter how bad it might be they would rather hear it from you then from Twitter!
Overall you want your investors to feel that are a vital part of your company's success. That's not a stretch. All you have to do is honor their commitment with honest communication.