The Importance of Communication Skills for Startup Founders

Startup founders often find themselves in difficult conversations with their co-founders, investors, employees, or clients. Managing these conversations isn’t easy and requires many skills. Possibly the most important of these skills is communication skills. As a founder, investing time in developing your personal skills in communication, coaching, and conflict resolution will create marginal value in the long term. In this post, I am going to talk about what these skills are and why they are important for a startup founder.


What are Communication Skills?

Communication skills are any skill that can help you make other people and ideas better. There are two ways to learn this skill: Doing it yourself by paying attention to your own communication patterns, or, listening to others do it. If you don’t pay attention to others, you will create problems that are difficult to diagnose or solve. You will probably find that being overly empathetic and understanding of other people will cause problems. If your view is a vision of the world, and everyone else seems to think it’s different, you will create more problems than you solve. When you create problems, you take your eye off the big picture and focus on solving your problems. For this reason, it is very important to spend time getting feedback from others.


Why Are Communication Skills Important For Founders?

Communication skills are especially important when running a startup because of the short time frame in which most entrepreneurs operate. Most startups are under the guidance of a mentor, which is not necessarily someone who has decades of business experience. That means that a mentor may not have the same experience you have or have had in situations you are currently facing. Being able to work well with others requires a lot of practice. 


Coaching and Conflict Resolution

The most important skill a startup founder needs is the ability to coach and resolve conflict. Coaching is the process of helping a person reach a specific goal in an interaction. This typically includes coaching someone to resolve an internal conflict, such as in a company, where a member of a team must decide how to handle a difficult situation in a decision-making process. Conflict resolution is the process of trying to resolve a conflict, such as an argument with a colleague, client, investor, etc., that has been started by a person. Conflict resolution is more common and typically requires two people to resolve. The key to effective conflict resolution is to establish a neutral third party to arbitrate the dispute and try to find a solution for the conflict.


Communication in the Workplace

Everywhere you look, there is at least one organization where communication is an issue. This problem doesn’t just affect employees of large corporations; it affects us all. But it is particularly problematic for startup founders because when we have a problem that needs to be communicated, it can often take a long time to get it done. The founder doesn’t have a lot of discretionary time to waste talking to the person or entity that has the ability to help, yet that is exactly what they have to do. Imagine being at a company for 4 years and getting the occasional, “Good luck” when you leave the office for the day. Now imagine never receiving this meaningful, yet meaningless, message. 


Most of the communication in our lives happens in the workplace; the way we talk to our co-workers and the way we approach customers, and ultimately, our customers. Despite the importance of communication in the workplace, a large percentage of employees do not take the time to improve their communication skills. Conducting negotiations is one such concept. In any professional setting, you have to negotiate with others to reach agreements and close deals. Communicating your needs to others can be difficult for new entrepreneurs because you don’t have any experience negotiating professionally or have the confidence in yourself or your ideas to tell people what your aspirations about your startup are. 


Your ability to communicate effectively and passionately to your co-founders, investors, employees, and clients is crucial to your startup’s success and is one of the most sought-after skills in our age. Both on an individual and organizational level, developing skills in interpersonal and team communication is worth investing in. 


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