I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation made by Noam Wasserman of The Harvard Business School and sponsored by Edison Partners of Lawrenceville NJ. Professor Wasserman spoke about his bestselling book, The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a StartupFounder's Dilemmas, which resulted from over a decade of research and collaboration, studying business entrepreneurs and why their companies failed over time.

Wasserman concludes that over 65% of businesses fail as a result of poorly defined roles and responsibilities. In addition, there is a lack of clear understanding about leadership roles in the new company.

Poor communications is an issue that rarely goes away. If you understand that many businesses fail due to poor internal communication, you can look back to the development of the brand and why the brand is important to the employees of the company. This effort requires a diligent process of understanding the language stakeholders use when describing the product or service. Once we’ve distilled the common words and phrases used in the research, we begin the process of building the brand positioning statement which becomes the touchstone for all communications going forward. The communications I refer to includes all internal as well as external communications. The message being delivered to internal and external stakeholders must be consistent and true, factual and steady. Consistent messaging and by-in by employees can only help the advancement of the delivery of the brand promise.

The lesson here is that it is always difficult to talk about issues that confound and frustrate us, but like the proverbial elephant in the room, the topic will come back to haunt us. Be prepared to understand what people want and distill the message into thoughtful, consistent language and you will go a long way to insure your company is successful.