The majority of our customers at InMotion Hosting are small companies or startups with a strong vision and desire to build a solid foundation to grow their business on. Like many of our customers, InMotion Hosting started off small and worked its way up to be the successful company it is today. What every company should try to keep in mind is how they first started off and what specifically accelerated their initial growth spurt. What’s most amazing about a lot of startups is how quickly they are able to get things done, how well they stay focused, and how they maintain the passion and motivation that drive it all. That is the envy of most major companies today.
When you start off small, you have some great advantages. Communication is easier and tasks are done more effectively and efficiently because there are less people to reach out to or wait on. Keeping this process strong is the hardest part when a company begins to grow. Waiting on people seems to be the biggest obstacle when communication isn’t fully there. Being aware of this and making sure you have a good system in place for getting things done, no matter how big your company becomes, will save you a lot of time and headache, and make a world of difference.
With our team still growing, we’ve had to try to adjust and figure out the best way to manage our projects. At first, we had hit some obstacles that we had to overcome with trial and error. Then we looked back at old processes and tried new ones instead. Finally we realized that using different channels to reiterate the same things can get confusing and messy. You want to go along with what your team feels more comfortable using, instead of using just one solution for the sake of simplifying. When processes begin to become a struggle, reassess them and find out why; Find a different solution. Don’t keep doing something because that’s how it was done before.
Use a Project Management Tool
We’ve come to rely on Basecamp as a project management tool to assign projects, refer to message threads, check out the project calendar, and add people to projects or reassign them. It helps to visually see what’s going on, what’s been done, and what still needs to get done. Being able to easily reference interactions among everyone within a team makes a tool like Basecamp a great resource.
Daily Stand-Up Meetings
Another good way of keeping the communication strong and everyone in the loop are daily stand-up meetings. Everyone literally stands up and moves away from their desks. The benefit of this is that it allows for participation from all team members and frees them from distraction. You can customize these to your liking of how often you’d like to do them, and which departments you want to include.
For our marketing team, every morning everyone stands up and tells the team what they’ve been working on, what they plan to work on, and if they have any obstacles that someone else within the team can help out with. This way, everyone is aware of what’s going on and it keeps all the processes clear. If you have multiple teams within a team, a representative from each team informs the group as to what’s going on. The total amount of time of the meeting should be limited to about 15 minutes. If more meetings are needed to discuss specific projects, then these can be arranged during the stand-up meeting and taken away from the group.
And don’t ever forget about the good ol’ face to face interactions. It’s great for team building and a lot of small things won’t fall through the cracks as they often do in communicating through technology channels. It can also save a lot of time when you’re waiting on responses and going through a bunch of email threads. If you need to have a record of what was discussed in a conversation, write one quick email to reiterate what was just said and use that as your reference.
This type of communication may lead to more interruptions, so you need to be approachable and open to face-to-face conversation. However, these interruptions are worth it since you don’t have to deal with going back and spending more time clarifying an issue again. You can always block out time and find a quiet space in the office to be interruption free and stay focused once a week or for a few hours in the day if you do begin to get interrupted too frequently. In the end, you will save a lot of time and everything will be crystal clear.
Smooth and clear communication has to be a priority of the company and it has to be optimized to keep it going strong, no matter how quickly or big your business grows.