Imagine a situation where you have a disruptive idea that can completely change the food industry, but you can barely even communicate what your business is about, to a third person. How then will you be to get people interested in your business, build a team by convincing them about the prospects of the business, draw clients or even investors to fund the business?
“Companies risk $135 million for every $1 billion spent on a project and new research indicates that $75 million of that $135 million (56 percent) is put at risk by ineffective communications, indicating a critical need for organizations to address communications deficiencies at the enterprise level.”
Today effective communication (both oral and written) is a vital tool to succeed in almost any sphere in life, and it’s equally true for startups. Communication has come to assume even greater importance in today’s day and age where we live in a global economy, with multicultural teams (based across locations, yet functioning seamlessly), global clients and international investors.
Communication is vital at every step of the business, right from planning to execution. Even the best laid plans stand to fail if not communicated properly to those responsible for their execution. First and foremost, good communication will ensure your idea at least gets the required attention from all quarters. Whether or not things materialize thereafter, will of course depend on your idea and how great your product is, and ultimately your business model, but nothing can be worse than a great product not getting the due attention owing to poor communication of the person representing the company, be it the founder or any other member of the team.
Also, we all know that language is one of the biggest barriers to effective communication. It can create a lot of confusion and misunderstanding and hamper productivity at work. With English being the most common language understood by nations across the world, it is imperative that entrepreneurs, if not already fluent, develop a basic level of fluency in the language so they can communicate effectively with stakeholders from across geographies. Honestly, it makes things a lot easier, especially when it comes to business. And why just English, even if your client is from Japan or China, a certain level of fluency is a must so business can be conducted smoothly. If you cannot even place an order for a consignment that you want get shipped to your country from China, you cannot have a business at all, unless you can afford a translator to do the needful for you. But with another person in the chain, there is always the risk of the message getting distorted!
Networking, which is critical to succeed in just about any business, too has its foundation in communication. It is all about using communication to build relationships and then building on those relationships to grow the business.
It also plays a vital role in building a connect with your own the team members, which, in the long run can help boost the overall productivity.Above all, if you can’t communicate your vision to prospective employees, you will fail to hire the right talent and will therefore not be able to build a great team that can take you closer to your vision.
An important aspect of effective communication that few seem to remember is listening. Communication is not purely about putting across your thoughts. Equally important is how well you listen to others and understand what they say to take the business to the next level. This is perhaps the most important aspect for forging lasting relationships with clients, more so in customer-centric businesses like e-Commerce or for client facing roles.
As such, communication forms a vital pillar that facilitates all other functions of the business.The importance of proper communication is such that the National Commission on Writing found that American businesses spend $3.1 billion annually training people to write. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed highlighted the need for effective workplace communication and said that they paid for writing training programs for salaried employees with writing inefficiencies. Even simple things like identifying information that must be confidential and ensuring that it remains such, may be critical in business communication – not only for the organization, but for the individual as well.
While communication may not be a pre-requisite for a startup to succeed, it certainly makes things smoother by ensuring that the founder is able to seamlessly put across his vision and expectations to various stakeholders, be it investors, clients, employees, vendors etc., and therefore, get the desired results. It will help you convey your thoughts properly and grab the opportunities that come your way.
Therefore, it is important that while you work night and day to achieve the desired business metrics you also invest time to hone your communication skills so you can make things easier for yourself along the way. And that’s not enough…as the business grows, ensure that the communication mechanism within the organization too is smooth and seamless, so you can derive the maximum benefit.