Is what you’re doing today, getting you closer to where you want to be? Every business started small. According to Eric Wagner, Forbes Magazine Contributor, 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. Let that sink in for a moment. Seriously, 80% of business that start today will crash and burn by Spring 2016. Where does that leave you? How long have you been in business and what can you do to grow, rather than crash your business?
Let’s take a stroll down the 5 distinct growth stages of business. In doing so, you’ll be able to identify what phase of the growth cycle you’re at, what you can do to keep moving forward, and lessons learned to not be part of the 80% that crash and burn.
Existing. Perhaps you’re here right now. If not, you certainly remember this phase. This is where you decided to start a business. You bootstrapped, got investors, or rocked out some other aspect of bringing your idea, product, or service to market. For most small business owners, this is the phase that tests your commitment of being in business. Everything is on you. Most start without planning, run amok, and do what needs to be done to bring in the business. Lesson with this phase is to research, plan, know your target customers, market, and provide purposeful actions within your startup that doesn’t lead to a preemptive crash and burn.
Survival. Yep, survival. For some of you. The word sends a chill down your spine. Here, small business owners rely on themselves once again. They made it through the existing stage, but, barely. Here, owners have established that there is a need or want for the product or service, however, they’re only making enough to make ends meet. This is where a majority of the 80% crash and burn. Survival is part of human nature, however, here the attention is more towards the cash needed to get by. Getting by is essential, however, it is not the mindset that is needed to move forward. Lesson learned from this stage is yet again, to research, plan, know your target markets, and provide specific actions that help you to not only get by, but to reinvest, grow, and expand your intentions of your business. Plan smart, act smarter or go home broke. The choice is yours.
Success. This is the dust your shoulders off stage. The stage in which you are grateful to move past existing and survival stages. Here, the business is sustaining reasonable profits and growing is doable. Likewise, one may want to put the brake on growth, and be satisfied with maintaining a consistent flow of profits at the level it is at without sacrificing any additional time, resources, or whatever is required to grow. Again, the choice is yours, however, whatever aspect that you do, the lesson learned is to research, plan, implement, monitor, and re-evaluate performance to sustain or expand your success.
Take-Off. Success got you here. Your systems, management, and clear focus is what will make or break your business at this phase. One can have success prior, but if organization, structure, systems, and management are lagging, your business could crash and burn while approaching “success runway”. Don’t let this be your business. Lessons learned from the experts is to research, plan, implement, monitor, and re-evaluate your concepts, processes, systems, management, and markets. Yes, you got to this point, however, that doesn’t mean that you’ll stay at this point. Here, your systems, processes, management, and well, everything is tested. It will make or break your business.
Maturity. Hot Diggity Dang. You made this far. Here, you’ve literally fought every stage of growth and continue to be a big player in your field. The biggest challenges are controlling such success. Lessons learned from top-dogs in this department is again, research, plan, implement, monitor, and re-evaluate across all aspects of your organization. At this level, your organization must be controlled, systematized, creative, and flexible to adapt to ever changing internal and external needs. You got this far as a result of purposeful planning and doing, the same is true with maintaining this level of organizational maturity.
Overall, the common thread within each stage of growth was strung together with key elements that are crucial to your organization and industry – research, plan, implement, monitor, evaluate, and continuously strive to improve. Some can wing it through the first two phases, but man, the next three require extensive knowledge, analysis, and creation of systems, processes, management, and creativity to continue that success. Likewise, becoming complacent or arrogant about success can set you up for failure. So, as the wise Benjamin Franklin once said, “failure to plan, is planning to fail,”. Purposefully plan, implement, monitor, and adjust to fit your specific internal and external aspects of the promote growth within your business.
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by Katie Doseck, Ph.D.
Chief Visionary and Strategic Ace Up Your Sleeve | Viral Solutions LLC