This article might be a bit irregular and maybe no one written about it before, but since a lot of startup founder has problems with communication lately I thought I will share my insight regarding the topic. “Why a sustainable communication strategy important for startups?”
I share here my own opinion regarding the topic first then later will write about it more in details. This was shared on LinkedIn with a shorter version and this motivated me to write a longer article about the topic.
Before you start a startup ask yourself
Do I want to be in the list of the next Forbes 30 u 30 then within the next 3 years get into jail forever?
Do I want to create a startup which can last until I exit at least?
Do I want to create and build something to make it sustainable for years or decades?
You need to think, decide and choose differently between options from day 1 as the goals will be different.
Fast route is not always scenic on the long-run, maybe scenic for a while, take you to tropical islands and fast cars, but if then you need to go to jail forever then
what’s the sense?
Was it worth?
Maybe no sense.
Sustainability is not just about our built and not built environment but about the legacy too:
what kind of memories we want to create & leave in the society about us and
regarding the product/services we are building?
That depends a lot on
Do we want to get into the Guiness World Record books with the genius skills we have or do we want to be the winner of Darwin awards who still live, but the rest of their life need to stay in jail forever?
I guess no one really wants the second option.
That is why reality check from time to time is quite important
in the startup world.
Sustainable development is continuous design, some strategy and a lot of adaptability.
But if you are not mature for a startup,
legislation will take you down, if not today then tomorrow.
Doesn’t matter how amazing you are or you think you are
(just like Sam Bankman-Fried thought about himself)
just be cautious & choose wisely!
Data not lying except if you create data, which are lying
then you might go to jail like Charlie Javice
Which is why especially if you are a first time founder and quite naive,
always know being a founder means you are the one
in the show who needs to play around,
if you are not playing around well
if you are trusting only in your instincts
and not your rational mind
then not everyone else is stupid instead of you was if you need to go to jail.
Legislations might take you down
on the long-run.
Whoever back the startup you have founded like investors and VCs are the ones
whose almost only goal is to achieve exit with (or without) you.
You are a monkey in the circus!
So listening all of their advice is not always the best idea.
You have to have self-control, reality check skills, critical thinking
and not just self-esteem.
Self-control is a highly precious trait, so first learn to control your urges to be able to create something permanent & lasting without further negative consequences.
The term means long-lasting and permanent startups, not startups which created and die in the 1st month, or 6, because of reality check hit them on the face and the startup fall down in the deep nothing.
Sustainable startups, in this context are businesses that aim for long-term success and durability.
These startups focus on building a strong foundation, considering factors like
- adaptability, and
- enduring value.
Here are key characteristics of the sustainable startups:
- Long-Term Vision: sustainable startups have a clear and comprehensive long-term vision. They aren’t just focused on immediate gains but plan for growth and success over the years.
- Resilience: resilient to market fluctuations and economic uncertainties. They often have strategies in place to weather challenges and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Scalability: designed to scale. They have business models and structures that can accommodate growth without compromising efficiency or the quality of their products or services.
- Adaptability: successful sustainable startups understand the importance of adaptability. They are flexible and open to adjusting their strategies, products, or services based on market feedback and changing conditions.
- Strong Leadership: leadership plays a crucial role in the sustainability of startups. Strong, visionary leaders can guide the company through challenges and keep it on course for long-term success.
- Customer-Centric Approach: sustainable startups prioritize their customers. They focus on building strong relationships, providing value, and addressing customer needs, fostering customer loyalty over time.
- Innovation: continuous innovation is often a hallmark of sustainable startups. They seek to stay ahead of the competition by developing new products, services, or improving existing ones.
- Efficient Operations: sustainable startups optimize their operations for efficiency. This includes cost management, resource allocation, and process improvement to ensure long-term viability.
- Financial Stability: these startups manage their finances wisely, maintaining a healthy balance between revenue generation, investment, and profitability. Financial stability is crucial for long-lasting success.
- Ethical and Responsible Practices: many sustainable startups integrate ethical and responsible business practices into their operations. This include considerations for environmental impact, social responsibility, and ethical sourcing.
Sustainable startup communication
Sustainable and successful startup communication involves conveying your company’s
- mission, and
effectively to your target audience and not just for your target audience, but for everyone else too.
It’s about building and maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders, fostering a strong brand image, and adapting your communication strategy as your startup grows.
Unsustainable startup communication
That means mostly startups and businesses without sustainable communication strategy. In the following paragraphs I will write more about these cases:
Communication problem – the FTX case
The previous paragraph last sentence means creating a startup where you align with your own Terms & Conditions at least to create and maintain an ethical & “sustainable” business. That might take longer than other routes, but can be more efficient and long lasting.
One of the worst example for this is the FTX (collapse) with the top of Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) and Caroline Ellison who were not able to meet with their own expectations of Terms of Sevices, where it was stated they are not using their client’s and customer’s traded invested capital (in Alameda and in the FTX exchange for the FTX use), but they did. Because of this they were going to jail. SBF faces around 115 years in prison.
They were not able to solve their inner communication to keep it inner, as one of their colleague namely Caroline Ellison tweeted this on 6th November 2022:
“If you’re looking to minimize the market impact on your FTT sales, Alameda will happily buy it all from you today at $22!” tweeted Caroline Ellison, CEO of Alameda Research and a key lieutenant of Sam Bankman-Fried, who founded both Alameda and FTX to Changpeng Zhao on Twitter/now X.
This should have been in their inner communication channels or a simple SMS between too business partner, which started an avalanche and contributed to that all of them ended up in jail.
PR problems – the X case
The other person who recently did not really care about his business’ stakeholders and clients was Elon Musk, who in the middle of November, 2023 cursed out advertisers who left his business due to antisemitic comments.
This means sharing your own opinion on social media even if you own that social media or you are a tech mogul or billionaire, not always the best idea.
Musk who is the founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and owner of X, which was Twitter just told in an interview to advertisers to “Go f*** yourself”, obviously this not exactly the best PR strategy on the world to create, or to maintain good and sustainable business relationships and partnerships.
In an X post late on Wednesday, CEO of X said that Musk offered an apology and “an explicit point of view about our position.”
However we might all feel that was a bit late, after his comment.
Startup exit communication fraud
Charlie Javice was the founder and CEO of Frank, a student financial aid application assistance company.
In January 2023, she was accused of fraud relating to the sale of her company to JPMorgan Chase for $175 million. Javice was charged on April 4, 2023 in Manhattan federal court with a four-count grand jury indictment for securities fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy.
Writing here about her because her exit strategy led her to jail. She was able to exit from her startup still she landed in jail due to reasons like securities, wire, bank fraud and conspiracy.
In 2022, JPMorgan filed a lawsuit for fraud claiming that the data reported by Frank was largely a fabrication, and alleged that Javice paid a data science professor $18,000 for a list of more than four million fake student names to convince JPMorgan to purchase Frank.
This means her communication was largely different than what it should have to be regarding the company’s performance.
This will probably not stop those founders who founded and built successful startups and big businesses, but still would be a good idea for them to realize and understand that a good PR and marketing strategy would be better for their own good than just sharing all of their own opinion on social media regarding any topic.
As we all have seen
- FTX collapsed because Caroline Ellison tweeted something to Changpeng Zhao,
- while a lot of advertisers left Musk’s X because he told something very irrelevant in the media,
- fraud and miscommunication will lead you fast into jail does not matter how “amazing” you think you are and what kind of title you have (Charlie Javice had the Forbes 30 under 30 title in Finance from 2019).
These all means it is not enough to create and maintain a business, if you can not make it sustainable with a sustainable communication strategy.
Sustaining means not just financial sustainability, but you need to be that mature and having that much self-control to think through what you will say in different situations and how this will affect your own company and the business environment and landscape too, where you and your business exists in.
How to learn sustainable communication?
Self-development, or personal-development is one aspect that can help you, as you need to practice this kind of communication, you need to be able to understand one little use of word, or one little sentence what kind of consequences could have.
If you are a founder you might do not even realize about the consequences but as someone close to me always told.
Words have weight!
That means you can not just say everything to everyone as you need to have in mind what kind of reaction this can cause in different people, who have different cultural backgound, views, religions and perspective about life.
Different communication coaches are be able to help especially those who have experiences regarding social media and be able to think through systematically what something can mean to others. It is not easy to find these coaches but worth to research after them.
They need to have widespread knowledge how to communicate with different people, groups and communities.
The most painful is the exact try & fail method. That is the method most people even founders too use, empirical study means you are practicing what you think is good, but testing the reality not always giving you the best results you expect or can achieve.
Facing you are
- losing financially a lot because of your communcation, or
- losing your freedom and go to jail for decades, because your business not even know inner communication ethics
are the worst possible way to empirically gain experiences regarding sustainable communication.
Sustainable communication solutions
The first and most important is to understand your audience.
Your audience not consist of just one group of people in the world, which is why your communication should be people sensitive.
Next to this it should be clear message to your target audience, but not just only for them as you are existing in a business environment, which is why you need to maintain an image, especially if your startup depends a lot on others.
Furthermore it needs to be assertive which means you HAVE TO think through how on Earth your comment on any social media (even if you own that media) will effect millions of people in the world, worldwide, not just them but the relationship with your business partners and clients too.
Sustainable communication strategy
Obviously the author of this article (Reka) can write hundreds of pages about how to communicate effectively and to create a good strategy with people from different backgrounds, digital communities, which she built through years; created brand (digital communication) strategies and image.
Here you can check her Portfolio.
She can help you to understand that you are communicating not only with your target audience, but everyone else too, which is why you as a founder or CEO always have to think through your strategy and think before you speak.
Next to this can help regarding how to communicate to different target audiences and other audiences; how to reach your goals with a good content strategy to reach your or your product’s goals effectively and easily.
If you are interested please write to the email@example.com with the subject: Sustainable communication strategy. Thank you,