You’re on Mute — How to scale communication while growing your startup

Gary Vanbutsele
4 min readDec 2, 2022


In the year when Twitter cut 50% of its workforce and Meta 13%, not to mention cuts in other premier tech brands, we managed to grow our client’s businesses and our team.

It’s been incredibly rewarding but it hasn’t come without some growing pains. Doubling team size in just a few months across territories has meant that more than ever, we’ve had to eat our own dog food.

We all know that communicating effectively, both internally and externally, is the cornerstone of your team’s success.

Good communication = happiness.

BUT how does this actually work when you’ve outgrown your weekly meeting of just a few people and their coffee?

The 5 unmute habits

In a recent webinar with Nadia Vatalidis (she/her/hers) of Remote, Alice Kramer of Bloom Growth™ and myself 🐳 we looked at habits that teams can use to ‘unmute’ communication and communication bad habits.

Welcome to startup life!

We ‘talked’ about;

  1. Acknowledging signs of trouble and checking assumptions
  2. Create a cadence for communications
  3. The power of informal meetings
  4. Having a system (of course I’m going to punt Whale here)
  5. And rethinking your culture in general

That’s great, Gary, but what did you guys do? And can you make it more specific.

Okay so here goes. We did 3 big things;

We systemized communication

Earlier this year we banned internal email but had to look at a couple more elements within our communication, especially as while we were scaling, team members had to take on projects outside of their typical scope.

We put these practices into place;

  1. Continuously document key processes and ways of doing things on our own product
  2. Run meetings with BloomGrowth’s software to keep it structured and outcome-based (no, this isn’t a product punt but I do believe in giving credit where credit is due)
  3. We used Slack for fun and for immediate reminders or quick messaging
  4. We implemented a weekly team meeting to share what we’d learnt

We high-fived!

It’s quite probable that I’ve shared this before because I love the tool so much but we implemented a tool to specifically acknowledge each other. If you don’t use it already, check out

As it turns out acknowledgment leads to feeling good which leads to better communication and collaboration. And don’t take my word for it, just ask Adam Grant.

We got together — really!

Brainstorming sessions are fantastic, but nothing speaks “unlocking growth” (our core purpose), like getting out there and trying new things together.

Once a week, once a month, and once a year, we get together but really get together. To learn and to play. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, want to create a culture of growth and achievement with the fun that goes with it!

Yes, that’s an actual picture of the team and I learning to surf. Well at that specific point in time, I wasn’t surfing but falling but it was a bunch of fun and the cost of the trip (which we didn’t spend a bunch) was absolutely worth the investment in helping us to align on our vision.

Communication is sometimes titled as one of those fluffy things but there was tangible ways of implementing it in a way that has a positive and upward spiral on the team and business!



Gary Vanbutsele

Co-founder and CEO of Whale. Former founder of an IT services company where every day felt like putting out fires. Now obsessed with unlocking growth!