Many (most?) communities began under the corporate radar with a limited budget and no authority. Yet they’re successful today.
Working solo under the radar is a useful practice. You have no budget, but no expectations. That’s a useful shield. It lets you test and refine different community concepts.
If you begin the community as a major project, with a big budget and a big announcement (the dreaded big launch), the pressure is on. You only have one chance to get this right. You either show rapid growth or you and the community are gone.
The problem is it’s tough to predict which concepts will explode to life.
You can do all the research possible, but you won’t truly know if you’ve got the right concept until you test it. Does the audience stick or do they visit once and bounce? If they’re bouncing, it’s going to be a hard slog to build a community (if it feels like a slog today, this is why).
Yet your odds of getting that perfect concept first time out are low. The odds of testing several concepts until you find the right concept are pretty high. And this is exactly what you can do with small groups (>250). You can test, test, and test until you find the right concept that sticks.
Which means the key to success might well be to fly under the radar.
Besides your senior staff are far more likely to support a community they can see thriving already.