The Importance of Scaling – Part 3 of 3: External Partners and Communication

(This is part three of a three part series of articles examining the importance of scaling all aspects of your growing business. Part one and two can be found here: The Importance of Scaling – Part 1 of 3The Importance of Scaling – Part 2 of 3: People and Culture)

External Partners

Beyond just the people within your four walls, organizations that scale effectively know how and when to leverage partners. Even if your company has gotten to this point without much outside assistance, that doesn’t mean you need to or should complete your journey alone.

There is tremendous value in tapping the experience and advice from others who have been there before you. Even the biggest companies started out small and had to scale up at some point. Reaching out and learning from those who have already ‘been there, done that’, can save you countless time, money, and effort by entirely avoiding an issue altogether. In her article “5 Things You Must Do to Scale Your Company”, Marla Tabaka illustrates the value of establishing key advisory networks. “When you get into groups and are around mentors and advisors you can address the issues you are facing with people who have experienced a similar set of problems; you sill see things in a different light.” It often takes someone removed from your situation to give a fresh perspective that you were unable to have given your embedded position. Even though you might compete with someone in the future, you will see companies generally want to share success with others, and a different perspective is invaluable.

At TeraThink, we’ve been fortunate to have a great external supporting structure, ranging from our collective teammates and partners to our individual friends and colleagues all of whom have provided valuable insight to what has worked and what has not worked along the way. We are constantly looking for ways we can continue to foster and grow these relationships, by sponsoring networking events where we bring many of our partners and former colleagues together to exchange ideas, make new connections, and collaborate on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We have also found making an introduction of these companies to others that share the same business goals is not forgotten and often rewarded.

Reinventing the wheel is never a good strategy and the notion that ‘you need to burn your hand to know that touching a hot stove is bad’ is simply not true. Leverage the advice of friends, current and former colleagues, and mentors who have some of those battle scars they are willing to share so that you can avoid having to go through them yourself.

Communication

Scaling your company involves change and any effective change should involve clear and honest communication and messaging. Your employees are much more likely to become champions of this change if they understand the direction the company is moving in, what that change means, and why.

In his article [5], Greg Satell positions communication as today’s most important skill, arguing that we our present epoch is not the ‘information age’ but the ‘communication age’. He goes on to state “In order to innovate, its not enough to just come up with big ideas, you also need to work hard to communicate them clearly.” This point rings true on so many levels and applies to both internal and external communications.

When our company first started, we allowed for internal communication to happen organically and informally, and given the small size of our team at that time it was effective. Much of our initial team brought a long history of working together, understood each other’s communication preferences, and if questions did arise on a certain issue, an impromptu meeting or call could be quickly pieced together. As we’ve continued to grow, and with the majority of our employees deployed at client sites, we’ve recognized the need to formalize our communications and ensure our employees feel connected and stay “in the know”. We established lunchtime business development calls where employees can dial in, listen, and contribute to the identification and pursuit of key opportunities. Each week, our senior management team sends out an internal email recapping key company news, highlighting upcoming events, and recognizing any employee contributions. Additionally, we get our teams together often in both formal and informal settings that allow for frequent interactions between all levels of the company. These communications help reinforce our open door policies and foster a culture of collaboration.

Beyond internal communications, how your company positions and portrays itself externally in the marketplace as it scales also warrants consideration and focus. Keeping your existing customers aware of the evolution of your company should both inform them of any new capabilities your company now has and also assure them that the services you are providing them today are still a priority. Furthermore, as your company scales, the opportunities you target will likely shift in some fashion. As a result, your outreach efforts should engage these new prospective customers and provide a good understanding of the benefits you provide and the problems you can help them solve. Leveraging companies that provide press release and newswire services as well as social media tools, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, are also things we have used at TeraThink to help us advance our approach to how we communicate at scale.

The ability to communicate your company’s vision, growth, and capabilities is arguably as important as the actual items themselves. Without this, it becomes extremely difficult to convince employees, partners, investors, and customers that your business is poised to expand on its success, meet its goals, and achieve its objectives.

Over the course of this #HowToCompete discussion we’ve talked about a number of areas that are impacted when your company scales. While certainly just a subset of things that should be considered, planning, focus, people, culture, partners, and communication all play a role in to your ability to scale effectively and compete. We invite you to join the discussion and share your ideas on how you’ve been able to compete and achieve success at scale.

Join the #HowToCompete discussion:

[4] http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/5-things-you-must-do-to-scale-your-company.html

[5] http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2015/02/06/why-communication-is-todays-most-important-skill/

[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on the blog of Dominion Consulting. On November 1, 2017, Dominion Consulting merged with TeraThink and are now operating jointly as TeraThink. All blog posts migrated from the Dominion Consulting website have been updated to refer to ourselves as TeraThink.]