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Why you should have a startup accountability email list

I mentioned this to some friends a while ago and thought it was worth writing up. I think if you are starting a company, you should absolutely have an email list of interested folks. Mailchimp makes this free. You can email to this list:

  • Progress you’ve made
  • Help you need (hiring, funding, finding customers, anything else)
  • Things you are proud of
  • Things you are bummed about
  • Interesting topics in your space

We used this at a startup I was at a couple of years ago and found it super useful. Even if no one reads the email (and people will!) just the act of putting it together will force you to acknowledge how much you have accomplished (or let you know what you haven’t done, which is even more useful). Some of these people will want to help, and this gives them a low effort way to keep in touch and possibly help when you have a need. I think it’s easier for you, too, to ask for help if it’s a regular newsletter that you’ve been sending (that has been providing them some value), rather than a one time ask.

How often should you send this? I think that every week is good at the beginning, when your startup is especially fragile. Then, as things get going, you can dial it back in frequency, but I’d have it happen every month if possible.

Who should you put on the list? Friends, family, possible investors. Anyone who you trust who you want to keep in the loop with your progress. You may share financials or pretty vulnerable asks on this list, so I’d avoid anyone who you wouldn’t ask for assistance from face to face. But if you are chatting with someone at a party and they are interested in and seem like they could help your startup, just say “Hey, I send out a monthly newsletter about our progress, would you mind if I added you?”