By Ryan Phelan, VP Marketing Insights, Adestra
With Christmas and the end of the year approaching rapidly, startup execs everywhere are wrapping up business for the year and begin planning for 2017.
One item that should be on your agenda before you head out on New Year's Eve is finding a way to thank the advisers, investors and mentors who helped you put another year on the books.
I'm not talking about sending some cheesy holiday card or generic gift. It's more important to find a way to thank everyone who went the extra mile for you, whether it was with time, money or resources.
Write personal, authentic thank-yous
One of the most important things your start-up can do, besides strategic planning and pushing through to the end of the fiscal year and moving the company forward, is to recognize how far you've come and who got you there.
Before the year ends, write a personal note to everyone in your inner circle of advisory groups and mentors and thank them for their assistance.
Don't just say "Thanks for all your help this year," though. Go above and beyond your regular investor update or the group message you send every week, month or quarter. Include these elements:
- Thank them for the time they spent with you, whether it was during incubator sessions, in-house strategizing or one-on-one advising.
- Specify what they did for you and your company. Say, "Here's what you did that helped us, and here are the results."
- List a few of the company's goals for the coming year and what role your advisers could play.
Remember that the people who give their time to advise you or who take your calls in the middle of their own busy days don't have to do it. They probably know that you appreciate their services, but it's 10 times better to get the note that lays it out in black and white.
Plan a strategy day
Along with your thank-you writing, plan a day when you can bring in your advisory group to meet with your team, look ahead to the new year and plan together how you'll make it different. It doesn't have to be a day-long commitment; maybe just offer to buy lunch in return for some group brainstorming.
Always make sure your advisory group knows what's coming for your business. Reiterate where the company is going and how you're getting there. Investors like details, such as what you're thinking and your justification for the decisions you make.
Give them opportunities where they can help you. They might know tricks or shortcuts that wouldn't come up in day-to-day conversations.
Saying thanks can pay unexpected dividends
When entrepreneurs are more authentic with their investors and advisers, that authenticity has a way of transferring to their employees and customers. This makes your company more valuable, too.
Something happens when companies pay attention to their advisers and investors and thank them personally and authentically. When the start-ups I advise thank me with specifics about how I've helped, I start thinking, "Maybe I should spend a little more money there because this entrepreneur knows what's going on and takes time to keep me in the loop."
I talk with 20 to 30 company heads regularly. I don't have time for them all, because I have a job, too. I'm going to spend it with the ones who will use it most effectively. They'll go right to the top of my priority list.
Here's to a great new year for you and your company!
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