Scaling a company is a daunting task and can leave executives experiencing some mix of fear, accomplishment, anticipation, enthusiasm and uncertainty. To ease some of the apprehension that accompanies rapid growth, we’ve assembled a list of some of the most common communications-focused problems brands will face, and the best practices for avoiding each.
Believing that what’s worked so far will continue to work
The age-old saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix,” largely doesn’t apply to high-growth companies. The belief that best practices learned and applied during your startup days will carry over into high-growth scenarios has the potential to become a tragic flaw in your go-forward communications strategy.
Work with your PR, marketing and sales departments to determine the best methods for communicating. Identify new or potential shifts in market preferences and determine if and how your brand approaches those problems. Don’t wait to adjust your messaging, communications and related programs if you feel there is a disconnect between your brand and your customers. Be proactive in every sense of the word. You’ve graduated from a startup to a high-growth company. You’ve already done a lot right; now isn’t the time to become complacent.
Setting unrealistic expectations
Humility is a trait that’s often lost in the transition from startup to high growth, yet is one of the most important to maintain. It helps companies and their executives create attainable expectations, identify more long-term goals and address shortcomings before they become problems that impact the bottom line. For example, while The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are incredible publications to aspire to, landing even the smallest mention in these outlets takes time, energy and strategy, resources that might be better spent targeting multiple top-tier trade publications that speak directly to your audience. We suggest putting tangible goals in place at the beginning of your growth stages, and partnering with a PR firm that will develop a strategy with you to achieve those milestones that will eventually carry you to your stretch goals.
Disproportionate internal scaling
Unfortunately, this pitfall can frequently be the demise of a business if left uncontrolled because of its sneaky nature. While we are strong advocates for putting others’ needs before your own, it’s imperative that a company take some “me time” during a period of rapid expansion, despite the chaos that can accompany growth.
Recurring offsites, executive leadership meetings, increased reporting frequency, more informative feedback loops and streamlined cross-departmental communications are all needed to properly manage the rate at which the various departments scale and to prevent them from turning into silos that eventually hamstring productivity and information-sharing.