Company performance updates are a crucial component of any investor relationship, as they offer key insights into any strategic planning changes you intend to make, as well as provide an update on the overall financial health of the company. Investors are eager to hear what’s been going on behind the scenes, and you’re eager to show them your progress. But figuring out what to include and how to portray it in the best light can be a headache.

Eleven members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share their top suggestions for what to include in your next investor update.

1. Share customer testimonials.

I really like including a few positive customer testimonials that show the investors what’s going on and how happy people are with our product. I’ve found that this helps the investors relate to us a little bit more. It also shows them that their product is really helping people and making a difference. I’ve had several investors come to me after this reenergized and wanting to become a bit more involved with the company. I’m surprised every time, but it really works well.--John Rampton, Due

2. Show progress on your milestones.

A major reason for an update is to show where you are in executing your vision and achieving the milestones necessary to reach your goals. Remind investors of what the initial milestones and goals were, and then share how you reached them — or why you did not. You can also use that time to share new updates and perhaps new avenues to change your strategy. Show your investors that you are always focused on carrying out your strategy by giving them a transparent look at your progress against your goals.--Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell

3. Try a visual report.

Investors are busy people with little time to review a full update email. Consider creating a monthly or quarterly report in the form of an infographic that you can send to them instead. It will engage them, help them quickly hone in on trends and give them better context to help you guide your company.--Amy Balliett, Killer Infographics

4. Start with your runway.

Investors will be excited about your progress on the product, your business successes and your advanced metrics, but the first question every investor wants answered is, “How long will this company endure?” Give them your cash position, burn rate and estimated runway, and use that information to frame the decisions you’ve been making in terms of long- and short-term plans.--AJ Shankar, Everlaw, Inc.

5. Clarify new directions and changing plans.

Inform investors of new marketing plans and any changes to your vision of the company. Keeping investors updated about those things shows that your business is constantly evolving. Showcasing a marketing plan gives an idea of the trajectory of growth beyond just dollars, and sheds light on brand value, customer engagement and potential sales. Investors don’t always want to see monetary growth: they need to know that the ability to profit can exist far beyond just a few update letters.--Kumar Arora, Aroridex, Ltd.

6. Explain changes to your target market early.

If you’re changing your target market, then you should definitely include that in your update letter to investors. A lot of entrepreneurs may shy away from this, but in my opinion, it’s better to address this earlier rather than later. There’s nothing shameful about admitting to investors that you’re open to change and are willing to fix something in your company if it doesn’t work, even if it’s something as large as your target audience. There’s a reason why they signed up with you: you showed passion and determination; trust in that.--Rob Fulton, Audio Luminaries

7. Be direct about top-line revenue and gross profit.

I believe it’s important to be direct with your investors, especially in an update letter. The two main factors that they will want to see right away are the top-line revenue and the gross profit. It’s smart to keep it simple.--Jayna Cooke, EVENTup

8. Include progress on long- and short-term goals.

Make sure that investors know that your efforts are directed towards specific purposes by presenting your goals as part of a cohesive picture about how and where progress is happening. Show investors your progress on both short- and long-term goals so that they know that you are both detail-oriented and able to take a macro-perspective. Additionally, it is a good idea to highlight milestones or goals where you have exceeded expectations so that investors know both your strengths and your weaknesses and better understand their role in the grand scheme of things.--Firas Kittaneh, AstraBeds

9. Don’t forget potential opportunities.

I like to let investors know what's in the pipeline and inform them of any companies we're talking to in the event that an investor has a connection that can help us. Also, keep your update letter as brief as possible. I like to divide the letter into titled chapters with a few bullet points in each. And always end with a sincere note of thanks.--Eric Schaumburg, Eventr.io

10. Highlight where the money is (and why).

I find it successful to start upfront with what cash is in the bank as well as the monthly burn for the company. If you are over budget, highlight what unforeseen expenses occurred and be transparent about what your runway is. This helps frame any further information you include in the update letter.--Zoe Barry, ZappRx

11. Avoid surprises.

Investors will definitely understand if you need to pivot, and in fact many would be disappointed if you weren’t willing to be flexible enough to succeed. However, don’t make it a surprise, especially if you have investors who are particularly attached to your original business plan. Early on, provide news of changing circumstances and the options you’re exploring in order to overcome them. Offer your solutions with an air of optimism but not finality, and invite their participation in developing the pivot strategy so that they don’t feel powerless.--Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

Published on: Aug 24, 2015