While interning with The Creative Coast this summer, I met dozens of highly engaged entrepreneurs and small business owners. I watched how they interacted with others, from one-on-one conversations with Creative Coast staffers to presentations to a packed room of peers and advisors at the weekly 1 Million Cups gatherings. Every entrepreneur had their own communication style, some good, some not so good. That got me to thinking about the importance of effective communications when presenting business ideas, and how even the most innovative idea can be sabotaged by poor communications.
Communication — there has been a lot written and said about this one word. Professionals have spewed the importance of it; parents scolded their children for lacking some form or part of it. Communication is, by no doubt, one of the most important elements in the recipe of a successful business, operation or entrepreneurial endeavor. Now of course, communication must be conducted effectively for it to be perceived as being successful.
Just as an on-going business must know their market, customers and competitors if they wish to stay in business, so too the entrepreneur should know his or her audience when pitching a new business or product concept.
Communicating is something we all do. A breakdown in the delicate process of communication may cause someone to lose a client, their job or possibly an entire business, or as was the case in my previous employment, even their life.
Know your receiver and the final destination of the message. If you are talking to someone outside your field or to a student, it may be wise to leave out certain jargon or trade-specific language as the intended definition of the message may be lost. As a parent, I’ve learned to scale my communication to fit my children’s age and comprehension level; the same is true for entrepreneurs when speaking to their various audiences, be they investors, peers or potential customers. When messages are not tailored to fit the audience, the message will be lost.
You, the sender, should also consider who else will receive your message, intended or otherwise. This will help you select a more capable receiver.
Another key element in the process is listening. Entrepreneurs should listen to the message leaving their mouths and adjust accordingly. As the receiver, entrepreneurs should also listen attentively, and repeat the message for clarity and confirmation.
In the end, it would be wise if we all consider what it is we have to say; to whom we have to say it, who might hear it and the obstacles that lie between. This whole communication process is directly linked to success and the lack thereof. An entrepreneur must know their producer, the distributor, the wholesaler, the retailer and the customers’ needs if they wish to be successful. Each and every part of the communication process is important to the message, whether it’s a product or a word. They communicate our values.
One of the most valuable insights I gained from my internship was the immense amount of energy, motivation and innovation that entrepreneurs possess, particularly those entrepreneurs who call Savannah home. Based on the attendance at The Creative Coast’s events and meetings in the past few months, our local entrepreneur scene is alive, well and growing. And by incorporating the proper communication skills, it will grow even larger and more vibrant.
Kaviraz German is interning with The Creative Coast. He is originally from Jamaica, served 10 years in the Army, is married with two children and is currently a senior at South University. The Creative Coast is a non-profit organization that promotes the creative and entrepreneurial community within the region. To learn more about The Creative Coast, visit www.thecreativecoast.org