Knowing which stage of the business growth journey you and your business are currently in can help you navigate a pathway to growth.
Royston Guest, author of ‘Built to Grow’, refers to business growth as being split into 5 distinct stages – Start Up, Infancy, Adolescence, The Groove and Maturity – each stage having its own set of challenges or business behaviours.
Which stage are you and your business currently in?
#1 Start Up
Where all new businesses start out. It’s the set-up, the ‘getting everything’ in place. You’ll know you’re in Start Up if the business challenges you face today include tasks like registering your business, developing your logo, creating a website. You may have experienced feelings of overwhelm, being scared and totally out of your comfort zone, whilst at the same time feeling excited beyond words.
Start-Up is when you take your idea and turn it into something which says you are open for business.
The stage all businesses move into after coming out of the initial new biz start-Up phase.
You’ll know you’re in infancy if the business challenges you face today include figuring out how to find customers and in the early days an over dependency on 1 or 2 key customers, poor or no cash-flow and your days feel like a whirlwind of reactive tactical tasks.
You may have experienced feelings of anxiousness as your ‘to do’ list gets bigger and you start second guessing what you should or shouldn’t be doing.
In Infancy, you are operating in survival mode. You will need to shift from gut instinct mode to implementing practical business sense in order to move to the next phase.
This is the stage where you start to ‘build out’ your business. It’s the stage where your business can quickly grow, BUT it can easily and just as quickly take 3 steps back. Great if you can handle it and are prepared, terrible if you’re not ready.
You’ll know you’re in Adolescence if the business challenges you face today include continued customer concentration risk, the robustness (or lack of) your strategic plan (2yr+ time horizon) is in question and your operations are under pressure particularly when demand is high.
You may have experienced feelings of frustration and maybe even anger as you don’t know which challenge to solve first. Your confidence takes a knock
As you know, you’re carrying the strategic direction for your business in addition to the day-to-day operations. But you bag those moments of happiness as you bring on new customers and realise it’s all worth it.
Adolescence is the double-edged sword. You’ve got the momentum of being a new business firmly behind you pushing your through the headwinds, but if one big storm comes it can easily throw you off course.
#4 The Groove
The Groove is all about harnessing the growth and scaling up, but it isn’t without it’s growing pains.
You’ll know you’re in The Groove if the business challenges you face today include inefficient operations, the engine room is just not pumping at the pace it needs to. You need to scale your sales and business development activities to hit your goals and you’re hiring, firing and managing people without a defined people plan in place.
You are pulling on your inner steel as you know your hard work has got you here you can do this, but you do get moments of annoyance and frustration as you feel you’re just not grasping the opportunity.
The Groove is a great place to be if you’ve set yourself up for success. If you’ve put those hard yards in during Infancy and Adolescence you start reaping the rewards here. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still need to focus and hanker down but you can crank those dials up knowing you are strong at the core.
You’ll know you’re in Maturity if the business challenges you face today include loss of momentum and flexibility, your losing talented people and you’re not sure why, your losing customers and you’re not sure why.
The key here is anchor your successes whilst keeping eyes open to new opportunities.
I’m truly passionate and believe that if you understand what stage you and your business are in, identify what you should be focusing on and as importantly, what you should be staying away from, you will set yourself up with a business which is truly built to grow.
Royston Guest is a global authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. He is CEO of Pti-Worldwide, author of #1 best-selling business growth book, Built to Grow, now available on audible. Check out his weekly blog.
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