Five Stages of Small Business Growth

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Starting a company is never an easy feat. Behind a prolific idea lay days, weeks, and months of planning. But when the business starts snowballing, there is no going back. In fact, it can all go through five possible stages until you have an established, mature company behind you. Luckily, failing at one of the stages does not mean the company in its entirety failed. Your path simply diverges into something else and counts as a setback. In the following article, we listed the five stages, along with benefits and risks each new one brings.

Stay afloat

The first stage is, surprisingly, not a preparation for a startup, or even growth in the actual meaning of the word. What you should be most concerned about is your company continuing to exist. Starting a business is the easier part, but making sure that it can stay afloat long enough to break even is a whole new ballpark. This is the stage where you ensure your product meets the supply and demand of your customers, enough to have them keep employing your services or products in the future. Here you build a solid customer base that keeps your company afloat.

Endure

Say that your business is steady, and you are making just enough money to avoid significant losses. Now with a manager or a foreman overseeing the handful of employees, you are no longer the sole backbone of the company. The second stage considers keeping an eye on two things:

  • short term goal – generate enough income to break even, afford product repairs, replacements, and other unexpected costs

  • long term goal – be financially well supported to star growing your business

Keeping both goals in mind, some companies take the road to stage three, while others stay in this stage until either the business fails, or the CEO retires, as it generates enough income to cover the costs of the invested.

Thrive

At stage three, your company is beginning to thrive. The influx of income can be reinvested in the company, and your personal and employees’ salary is growing. But this is also a point where you have to choose one of the two paths: appointing managers who will take your place so you can start a new business venture, or invest more energy to keep the company growing. The former allows you to step down, permanently or temporarily, and run the company from the status quo while pursuing other life goals. The latter gives you the chance to see your business excel in the market with significant recognition and income.

Soar

If you chose the latter, you want to see your business take on the tough waters of the market. At stage four, prepare for a mountain of difficulties and practice immense patience. As the founder, you now have delegates that oversee different parts of your business. Such positions will require trained and responsible individuals, unlike in the first stage. Together, you devise a strategic and operational plan of the company’s growth. Additionally, monitor your funds to avoid major losses, because failure to meet the cutthroat requirements of big business growth can result in dropping to one of the first two stages, complete bankruptcy, or shift in power.

Resource Maturity

Reaching the final stage is hardly the end of the journey. The energy and drive that pushed your employees through the soar of the company has no meaning once the destination is reached. Just like the established storage solutions company experts point out, you need to keep the enthusiasm there, but focus it on other aspects. This calls for another strategic and operational planning, where you will determine the company’s new goals (acquiring other businesses, developing new products, and so on). The rapid growth rush is over, but new, unconquered lands await. At this stage, you will most likely be a surveyor, and take little part in the detailed planning. You will have a handful of competent delegates who will be navigating the business for you.

Final thoughts

The road to success is paved with difficulties. Most of the time, the problems will feel insurmountable, but if you keep your eye on the goal, and stay aware of these five stages, the journey can be easier. Make sure to employ people who will grow and develop alongside you, and investors who will see the potential in you as much as they see it in the product you offer. Having allies in a growing business is what keeps the founders motivated and driven.

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Chloe Smith is a cycling enthusiast, business consultant, and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success.

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