Having the right startup communication strategies could mean success or failure for your business, especially within its first year. This is the time during which you are likely going to be setting up your business’s core team. These are those few key people who you have specially chosen to play a big role in your startup’s early stages. You have chosen these special team members because you believe that they will carry your business through the oh-so-vital startup phase.
This first year of your business is a crucial time, and you need to make sure that everything is in place. You need to provide a stabilizing factor for your new business. The set of communication guidelines that you put into place, particularly for a new business, is one of the most important aspects of the startup support system that you need to develop. They will help your startup team stay organized and in touch with each other. This will go a long way to ensuring that your business will grow, and continue to do so. Without effective startup communication, your core team could be going rogue.
Probably the worst part of ineffective startup communication is that you’d most likely never even know that anything is seriously wrong. You would have no startup communication strategies to keep you informed on what’s happening, after all!
Here are a few basic points on startup communication to consider as your core team begins to dive into their respective roles:
Even if your core team is very small, which it is likely to be at this point, you need to set up your startup communication strategies now. As few as five team members can already do a lot of damage. These are key people handling key aspects of your business. Any miscommunication or disconnects between you and among them can become a big burden on you and your business. You will all have your fair share of struggles at this early stage without unnecessarily adding to the load.
Communication should first and foremost be clear, and so, therefore, your startup communication guidelines should also be. Allowing for flexibility is also important, of course, so you have to strike a good balance between the two. This is especially true if you are working with a team that is not putting in full-time hours or all working at the same time. You need to know that each person involved is going to be able to touch base with every other member at some point in the day and throughout each week. You also need to respect everyone’s schedules just as they respect yours.
Choose a Channel
Get everyone together for a meeting to discuss communication moving forward. As you arrange to meet – before you even hold the meeting – you can already gather a lot of information on their work schedules and time availability. One other key point to take note of is how they are most comfortable communicating. Are they social media people or do they prefer Hangouts? Are they on Skype a lot or do they rely on email?
If everyone has a common preference or available channel, then you can easily set up this meeting. During the meeting, quickly clarify that everyone can be available during the times that they mentioned to you earlier. You will have then efficiently shared each team members’ schedule with the group so they are aware of when they can reach out.
You might also want to suggest an additional startup communication channel. A collaboration tool, for instance, might make more sense for the projects that you are all working on. There are many such tools, such as Trello, Slack and Todoist. Make sure that you have the cooperation of each team member when setting up such a channel. It is a good idea to ask for their suggestions as well. They might have more experience using these kinds of tools. They can probably provide you with some valuable insight on which ones will work well for your collective needs.
Once you have chosen your startup communication channel, talk about what your expectations are for response times. When using a true communication tools such as chat, you can reasonably expect a response during each person’s previously discussed available times. The expectations for email replies and platform check-ins, on the other hand, might not be so clear. Make sure that everyone understands and agrees to how soon replies and how often check-ins are expected on all of the channels that you have chosen together.
Since the early first year of any startup can be a delicate and turbulent time, there will always be situations where you and your team members will have to reach out unexpectedly. In a startup, things can happen at any time. Explain how communicating outside of normal work hours will sometimes be necessary so that they can understand its importance. This will make them less likely to take offense or get the wrong impression.
Then, discuss with your team how you suggest these off-hours communications be handled. Don’t forget to ask their opinions and how they prefer to be contacted when they are not scheduled to work. You really don’t want your valued core members to be jolted awake by the shrill ringing of their mobile phones or an unscheduled Skype call. They will not thank you, and their performance could likely show it.
Having regular meetings is an absolute must during the startup phase of any business. A lot of things might still be up in the air, and a lot of things can and probably will change as the life of the startup solidifies. Regular meetings – my recommendation is to have them weekly – are also a great way to keep startup communication in check and make sure that everyone is doing their part.
During each weekly meeting, have an agenda prepared to lead your team. This shows that you are in control and that you respect their time. These are two essential factors to promoting a smooth working relationship with them. Remaining on top of things keeps your team honest, and showing respect will enhance their respect for you and your business.
Your weekly agenda should contain such items as a review of pending concerns form the last meeting, updates on what has been happening this past week, and creating goals for the coming week. Have everyone share their thoughts at each part of the meeting. Make sure that they all know that their input is greatly valued and that they can freely share what’s on their minds – in a professional manner, of course.
By setting up clear startup communication strategies right from the start, you can establish effective guidelines that will stick. The best way to get a team to really work well together is to map out all the important aspects of business operations. Startup communication is one of these crucial components of business, but it is sadly often overlooked. Having these guidelines and presenting them to your team helps, among other things, to make sure that they are aware of your expectations before they start developing habits that can hurt overall productivity. Everyone communicates differently, and it’s not about what the wrong way or bad way is – it’s about the method that works best for the team because there really is no “I” in team.