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First annual reports: Making a good first impression

Your company’s first annual report is a milestone for the business, and it’s important to get it right. So, before you start to create your first annual report, make sure you take the time to think about what’s required, and what’s most important.

There is a lot to think about around the time of creating an annual report: getting the accounts done, dealing with the auditors, designers and printers, and meeting the legal requirements for content and timings. But when you’re creating your first annual report, there is one more thing that should be considered before you start: the overall view of what the company is and what it stands for. How do you make sure that the annual report reflects your company’s core purpose and promise?

The main purpose of any annual report is to set out the company’s accounts, and to show shareholders and future investors that it is a financially stable business. This has always been its traditional role, but now annual reports also convey a fuller, more well-rounded description of how a business is doing and its purpose. With a first annual report there is an added challenge, because potential investors may not have much of an idea of who the business is and what it stands for, and so may rely entirely on the report for their information.

Why is setting out a company’s purpose and brand promise so important? 

Well, let’s take the property website Rightmove as an example. Some people think of it as a real estate company, while others think of it as a web-based tech company. These are both correct descriptions of what they do but is not how Rightmove describes itself. Rightmove describes itself by its purpose: ‘Making home moving easier’. This one statement describes everything Rightmove does within its business and is used to inform all sections of the annual report, from the Chairman/CEO statements to the KPI’s.

A good annual report, first or otherwise, should always convey a company’s purpose as it applies to the current year, and how the business is set to deal with challenges and opportunities in the future. Companies can’t rebrand every year, but they can adjust and refine their brand purpose in each annual report.

Making a good first impression with shareholders and potential investors is a great step towards making a lasting great impression.

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