This was my response to a question on Quora:
In my view, a template is clinical and does not allow for the qualitative aspects that are equally critical in a company, especially in a startup.
My suggestion is to provide a short summary of the health of the venture, capturing critical aspects that will be relevant to investors. I would suggest the following:
- Overview – a one-para summary of what has happened since the last interaction (e.g. on product, customers, people, brand, etc.)
- A para on how the business is progressing as per the plan (including what is working well, and what is not progressing well – could be on customers, pricing, costs, people, cost of servicing, etc.)
- Highlight challenges or red flag any thing that you see as issues
- Outline what you wish to achieve in the next month (I have noticed that investors may not pay too much attention to this para, as usually it is transactional and mundane. However, if it is not there, it usually creates discomfort. Just having even the regular stuff in this is reassuring that all seems to be well.)
- If needed, seek assistance in any area that they can help
Another reason why I think a good, crisp report every month is a good idea is because it allows you to also reflect on the progress and helps you identify red flags for yourself earlier too.
In most cases, investors want to help. These type of reports provide investors a good view of where they can help, and allows you to seek out their support when and where required.