The thumbnail version:

  • Poor communication continues to be a business problem.
  • Small businesses can gain a lot by improving communication.

The full version: has just reported on a survey of 400 large companies, The Cost of Poor Communication survey. It concluded that the average loss per company that participated runs into tens of millions of dollars per year due to poor and miscommunication. And while this startling finding comes out of a survey of large companies, my experience is that communication is pretty poor in the small businesses community too.

And I’m not just talking about internal communications, but also external communications. For instance, there are internal communications such as giving instructions, sharing business objectives, sharing information on progress, checking on the well-being of staff members, praising for jobs well done, discussing disruptive staff issues, sharing important product or industry information, and a long list of others you could probably come up with as well, But then there are external communications such as those with suppliers and customers.

You have to be especially diligent about your communications with customers. It has to be frequent enough to keep the contact fresh and to maintain an awareness in the customer’s mind, but not be so frequent as to be a nuisance; I’m talking about emails and phone calls in particular. And when communication does occur, it should be polite, friendly and to the point. Most people see themselves as busy and resent having their time wasted.

And to round this out, good communication means good business manners, and vice versa. For instance, reply to emails, even if with just one word such as “thanks.” It only takes a second or two. Not replying leaves your correspondent wondering if you received their email, and that’s just bad business manners.