It's Sunday afternoon, and I just finished writing and sending a weekly update for my startup. Especially in the early days, your head is so down in the weeds all day that you often forget to look up and realize all the things that you've accomplished for the week and things that you may have forgotten to do or didn't do so well.
In the first few weeks after going full-time in my startup gig, I realized just that. We were doing a bunch of things, but we never reflected on what those things were. So, we'd go into the following week, not really realizing what we did well or didn't do so well the prior week. By no means is it a new idea, but the revelation came to me when I was feeling down on a Sunday evening. I told my wife I felt like I didn't do anything well the past week. I looked back at our #daily-updates channel in Slack (everyone posts their updates in a Slack channel daily) and I was taken aback. We had accomplished so much as a team that week. From engineering pushing out new features to successful cold outreaches, to an updated website, I forgot how much such a small team was able to accomplish in a given week.
So, I decided every week to send a weekly recap to the team. I haven't looked back since. I've been sending out weekly updates for the better part of three months now and wanted to share how I format and send ours out.
My format is pretty straight forward. I want the team to actually to read the notes, so I section them off and stick to bullet points. I have an intro that recaps the entire week and what I'm looking forward to the next week and then dive into the sections.
Every initiative/team (Engineering, Product, Design, Marketing, etc.) is vital to success, especially in the early days. I don't call out just one team/initiative, but instead, I focus on each one and make sure they're represented. Also, I find a way to tie them together. If your team launches a new feature and there was a blog post written about it… that's great!
Here is an example of my intro:
Another week in the books. Overall, a good week in terms of execution. As I mentioned on Friday, I felt great because we had another week where the entire team focused on the same thing — the beta. Engineering focused on getting new features and integrations out. Marketing focused on getting content out there and driving traffic to our site, Business Development focused on building out new outreach lists and solutions guides, etc. It was great to see all the Slack messages and Zoom calls focused on our goals. We fell short of our DAU goal, but we have some great stuff to promote next week to get more users and excite our existing users. Kurt, one of our users, says he is more inclined to use Xoba now because of the Slack integration. Brittany said she was holding out for GitHub and now Xoba has more perceived value to her. I'm excited to see how their behavior in using our product changes over the coming weeks.
We've been executing on the groundwork over the past couple of weeks, and that's great. Now, we need to continue to build the groundwork, but we have some ammo to go out there and start driving more leads, having more conversations, and getting beta users. Rahul and I have a good story along with some content to begin going outbound with Xoba. We have great content (and getting more soon) to help drive traffic inbound. Now we can have some fun and experiment since we have real traffic coming to the website. A new week, same focus, new goals. Let's go!
I like to open up with great news. Highlights are an opportunity to recap on the tactical things completed over the week (e.g., we released a blog post) and the 'feel good' items (e.g., user X said they're going to use the product more now because we released this feature!).
- Search Xoba within Slack capability! Can't wait to promote this and use it as a lever to generate leads
- Two solution guides (Compliance & Sales Onboarding) drafts complete. These will be ready first thing next week to start distributing for our outbound lead gen
- First full week of daily check-ins with Marketing/BD. Overall, they were great and helped us stay aligned and focus on our goals for the week.
What we could have improved on
This section is not meant to call out a single person or a team. Instead, it brings to light some of the goals that we may have missed and things that were brought up during the week. Typically, I follow up with a suggestion on how we can improve or add it to the Monday All-Hands meeting to discuss as a team.
- We're struggling to get responses from our new users for feedback. Moving forward, we'll ask them to provide feedback via email (give them an out). We're looking into offering gift cards for feedback calls.
- We need to continue to test out ways to convert visitors to beta users. Lots of traffic, but conversions are still low. Let's revisit our hypothesis tomorrow and see what action we want to take this upcoming week.
- While we set ourselves up well for next week, we didn't have good engagement from our current users. We need to continue to find ways to improve this. Let's discuss in our all-hands tomorrow. Please come with two ideas.
A tip: Every week, go back to the previous week's 'What we could have improved on' and follow-up. If you didn't improve on it, then call it out in this section. Whatever you do, don't just sweep it under the rug, because your team members will remember.
Looking forward to next week
You want everyone to be excited about the upcoming week, so make sure to highlight key areas or items that the team will be working towards. The first sections were all about what we did last week and how we set ourselves up for the following week.
- Testing out new content and messaging on the website to get more beta users
- Starting to leverage our solutions guides (and the story around them) to do outbound lead gen
- Getting more content out in the wild (Blog posts and solution guides)
This is a quick section with some notes for the upcoming week. I typically repeat these in our All-Hands on Monday, but it's always good to keep records. Typically, I focus on upcoming events or let everyone know who will be out of the office for the week. For example, if someone is taking Friday off, we'll put it in this section.
- Shawn is taking a half-day on Friday (It's his 1-year wedding anniversary weekend)
After it's written up, I will post it in our company intranet (we use Notion). Then, I take the beginning section and post it in our company Slack channel with a link to the details.
If you have advisers or a mentor, it's great to share the recap with them as well. They have a good perspective and can offer thoughts on the 'where we can do better' section.