Leadership is communication and effective communication is always a challenge, even in the most ideal environments. So what does that mean for communication for the time-starved, high-stakes, high-failure world of startups? It means everything – especially for founders.
When you think of early-sate startups, think college roommates. Close living quarters and a general lack of maturity lead college roommates to fight; poor communication (of course, binge drinking probably didn’t help) often ends college friendships. The shared desks, tight quarters, and crazy hours of startups make communication scarcely different for start-ups. If you have any chance of growing to become a successful company, you better have strong founder communication.
Start-ups, like any type of relationship, require different communication strategies over time. A first date requires an entirely different skillset than what’s needed to maintain a healthy and productive marriage. To be successful in your startup, you’re got to nail communication in every step in the journey. If you don’t get it right when the only employees at your business are the founders – you won’t get a second date…and you certainly won’t get to successfully manage a team.
Many founders, especially young founders and first-time founders, exclusively focus on their product & customers at the expense of giving thought to team communication. Poor founder communication leads to wasted time, decisions revisited over & over, and a dysfunctional culture that’s tough to overcome. Accelerators and incubators around the country are littered with failed start-ups thanks to poor communication.
In my years in the start-up world, I’ve seen a few recurring behaviors and patterns that predict successful communication versus startups that stall out after that first date. Here’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.