• Caroline Ridgway

Communicating Scale: The Story of 2.0

There are loads of business texts, papers, and use cases written on the topic of scale. When to do it, how, to what degree. It is the million-dollar question (literally, to large extent) for small and early-stage businesses. Of equal importance with ensuring your finances are appropriately intact, your client relationships are sufficient in scope and solidity, and you have the right team for the job, is taking the time to think about messaging from version 1.0 to version 2.0.

While 2.0 is under development, you can’t forget about 1.0. After all, 1.0 is what got you to this point. Ideally, 1.0 also has legitimate value. For small businesses, it is what allowed you to become established enough to consider expansion. For start-ups, it’s what got you initial capital raises and enough market traction to proceed to the next phase. So, keep giving 1.0 the love it deserves. Chances are that foundation remains integral to whatever you’re growing into.

It is challenging to think about how to describe 2.0 when it is coming, but not yet available. What are the semantics? How do you let potential clients or customers know that it’s oh, so close, but not ready for primetime, but sure as heck is on track to be something special. You’ve got to figure out how to guarantee the future before it’s here, based on internal confidence that you’ve got the capacity to support what you’re actively selling. The hardest catch-22 of scale: convincing people you’ve got what it takes, before you’ve got it.

At its simplest, think about word choice in how you describe your forthcoming expansion. You need to strike that essential balance between promising and delivering. Precise objectives may vary depending on if your business model revolves around a service or a product. Check in with your branding. Make any necessary adjustments ahead of time to your website, mission statement, taglines, boilerplate, logos, letterhead, etc., etc. Draft a press release and have it ready to go. Be aware of how your audience best receives and consumes information. For example, don’t spend a lot of time creating a TikTok video for a daily news crowd.

Your existing customers are an amazing and easily tapped resource for feedback. They already believe in you, and you hope and trust will provide honest assessments of how your evolving business aligns with their ongoing needs. Be prepared to meet them where they are. For some, version 1.0 may still be all they need. Others will be eager early adopters.

A lot of success in messaging comes back to relationships and authenticity. Communications is about creating a rapport, however direct or indirect, with your intended audience. And, frequently, failed communications can be attributed to poorly explained and set expectations. Clarity is critical, to be sure. It’s hopefully abundantly clear in your own mind and within your internal leadership team what you’re trying to achieve. Make sure your customers are equally fluent.

To that end, better make sure everyone on your team is fully up to speed on the growth strategy and the language being used to describe your 2.0. This is an all-hands-on-deck time in a company’s lifespan. If your team is invested in a substantive, personal kind of way, they’ll give that time willingly. That’s top-down, but it’s also within and across. Standards for performance can and should be high. Balance that with internal communications that are as robust as external.

Finally, be sure you’re still in love with the story you’re telling. Are the reasons you got into business still what keep you motivated every day? Refine your why and know you’re not growing just to grow. You’re growing because you’ve got a problem to solve.

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