What Makes a Good Report? by Dave Hopton on 1st October 2015

What Makes a Good Report?

Not all business progress reports are created equal. Some just weren’t worth reading or writing in the first place.

Before looking at what makes a good report, let’s consider what makes a bad report.

No consistency – starting with a blank email and bashing out some words every month will mean there’s no consistency to your reporting. Last month you mentioned a marketing push, this month you don’t mention marketing at all.

No context – You’ve hit 1,000 users – woohoo! But that means little without knowing how many you had last month or what your targets say you should have. Just because you live and breathe your business, don’t assume your investors do. Give them context for your numbers.

SporadicIt’s important to regularly keep your shareholders updated. An update a couple of times a year just reminds your investors how crap you are at updating them the rest of the time. Are you really not doing enough with their cash to warrant more regular updates?

All the good, none of the bad – It’s not all rosy all of the time. So don’t make out that it is. Be honest about where you’re struggling or having problems. Readers might be able to help.

Good Reports

So what makes a good report? Well, the opposite of the above.

Well structured and consistent– some of your investors will be keen to keep an eye on the financial state of the business. Others will be more interested in product development. Provide a short update on each area of your business every month. Keep it consistent – cover all areas every month.

Numbers with context Knowing you’re now at 1,000 users is great. Knowing this is 20% up on last month but 5% below target is better. Working these percentages out can be a pain – but Supdate does it for you automatically.

Regular – Every month, without fail. And promptly.

Honest – Don’t dress things up or try to hide problems. Share them. As well as being an update for your shareholders, your monthly report is also an opportunity for you to reflect on the progress you’ve made and where you can do better.