9 Ways to Ensure Your Shareholders Are Happy With Your Company’s Performance
You followed your entrepreneurial spirit, came up with an idea, raised capital and started your own company. Now you spend a great deal of energy keeping your customers, suppliers and employees happy. But are you forgetting someone? What about your shareholders?
There’s one other group of people who have a stake in your business; the people who put up the capital in the first place. Shareholder relations is one of your key responsibilities. Success in business is often about building and maintaining relationships. Your relationship with your investors is perhaps the most critical, particularly in terms of future growth.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council for their advice on how to maintain a positive, open relationship with stakeholders.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Leave the Door Open
Shareholders expect your company to face many ups and downs – especially if you’re a first-time founder. At the end of the day, frequent and transparent communication is the best tool to make sure shareholders understand how and why you’ve made certain decisions about your business strategy. Give shareholders the opportunity to get more involved. After all, your success is their success.
2. Share Quarterly, In-Depth, Transparent Stakeholder Reports
We share quarterly, in-depth reports on the preceding quarter with all investors, advisors and stakeholders. This transparent, meaty information shows our company’s continued growth, plans for the following quarter, and any asks we may have of them. It has been the single most helpful way to communicate our success and roadblocks along the way.
3. Follow Through on Your Promises
Be known as someone who keeps to their word and you’ll create a rare, high-trust relationship with your stakeholders. Do this with the smaller promises (sending reports, sticking to meetings) and the bigger picture items (hitting targets, launching those new products, etc). This forces you to be very careful about what you promise, which promotes deep-level thinking and planning; that’s good for all.
4. Be Transparent
It’s easy to be transparent in good times, but it’s key to do it in bad times. Good numbers will satisfy stakeholders. When there are tumbles, explain why and what your thinking is for a course of action. Some factors are within your control and others are not. Investors are betting on your business but also on you, so explain challenges and your thoughts on how to overcome them.
5. Define and Execute Repeatable Processes
We are sure to document all tasks, estimate and prioritize them with our clients present. Then they can experience the details we think through, and understand what’s easy and hard by our estimation, enabling them to give input into priorities. We then select two weeks worth of work at a time (our sprint length), execute the top priorities, then regroup to review progress and plan next steps.
6. Align Your Expectations
We make sure expectations are aligned at quarterly check-ins with stakeholders. We discuss our overarching goals and the underlying assumptions on how to achieve them (through a bottom-up and top-down model). With these clearly defined and agreed-upon deliverables, we find addressing any new challenges and changes in the assumptions easier with our stakeholders.
7. Focus on the Long Term
Don’t allow yourself to draw significance to the quarterly or yearly reports in your business. Smart investors understand great companies are built to develop and grow over time. This saves you from thinking about the importance of a good or bad quarter, which over time, might not affect the business. Expressing your interest in longevity demonstrates you are not in it for the short haul.
8. Manage Expectations with Integrity
Stakeholders’ satisfaction is tied directly to their level of expectations, and in most cases, these expectations are set by none other than yourself. We are all human, and even with the best intentions, we fail, miss our targets, deadlines, etc. Your stakeholders know it, too. Manage their expectations, communicate in advance, and don’t let them be surprised with something they didn’t see coming.
9. Create a Multi-Tiered Feedback System
You need to have a multi-tiered feedback system that addresses every single stakeholder group including surveys, focus groups and deep research. That way, we have a light touch, a deeper touch, and a more research-driven approach that we do at every level – customers, vendors, suppliers and partners.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.