Communication, Communication and Communication

As businesses grows, regular reporting to stakeholders becomes more challenging yet more important. I define ‘stakeholders’ as anyone who has a vested interest in the continued success of your business e.g. Directors, employees, shareholders, key suppliers, selected customers, professional advisors etc.

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As businesses grow, regular reporting to stakeholders becomes more challenging yet more important. I define ‘stakeholders’ as anyone who has a vested interest in the continued success of your business e.g. Directors, employees, shareholders, key suppliers, selected customers, professional advisors etc.

In a small business, there is little need for formal reporting (save for board meetings which in many cases are held quarterly) as in most small businesses everyone is involved in the day-to-day running of the business and they pick up everything through osmosis.

However as the business grows and you employ more people, perhaps open a regional office or two, allow working from home, perhaps take on some external investment or business loans then the communication by osmosis that worked fine for a small tight-knit team no longer cuts it.

There is no de facto manual on how growing businesses report to their stakeholders and in most cases the reporting process simply evolves, perhaps from previous experiences and/or with input from professional advisors, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ as it’s so dependent on the size of the business and where the business is in terms of growth.

We recently had a roundtable discussion on this very subject in one of our Pabasso – Peer Advisory Board Associates boards to try and understand ‘best practice’ for reporting in an established and growing business.

We discussed a number of options for when and how an established business should communicate and report to stakeholders which are included in the list below, to which I have added a Quarterly external shareholder update – written
and a Regular (quarterly) external stakeholder update – written. These can be extremely beneficial where appropriate.

Clearly, the size of your business will determine how practical some of these suggestions are, and some are more important than others but here is the list of options we discussed:

  • Monthly Board Meetings
  • Monthly Whole Business Updates – written
  • Quarterly Whole Business Updates, F2F/Video
  • Quarterly external shareholder update – written
  • Quarterly external stakeholder update – written
  • Annual external shareholder updates – F2F/Video
  • Annual Whole Business ‘Kick Off’ + Previous Year Review
  • Annual Whole Business Half Year update/social e.g. away day etc
  • Annual Reward Trip ‘Business Planning Event’ for Over Achievers

Think of it like a menu where you can choose the ones that work for your business at this time, then as you grow you can include more, embracing additional options when the time is right.

We then went on to discuss what we might cover in these meetings/communications and I have a document covering this in detail, if you would like a copy please drop me a note.

So the message is that if you want to take all your stakeholders on your journey with you, you must communicate, communicate and communicate. Don’t assume everyone knows what is going on!

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