Recently a reporter asked me 4 questions: 1) if organizations go through different stages of growth; 2) if so, what are they; 3) why it’s important for business owners to understand where they are in these stages & 4) what they should do with this information.

After thinking about the complexity of these questions for a minute to collect my thoughts I answered, “yes and…”.

In all the years I have consulted with & trained entrepreneurs, business owners & senior executives, I have become convinced there is no one right path to success. And whatever path you take is not going to a be a straight line; it is not a linear world we operate in.

Having said this, though, there is a sequence that organizations go through on their way to success. It begins with the Start-up. A start-up is where all businesses begin. It is the doing of what you have been thinking & talking about for some time. It is jumping into the pool & hoping your idea of how to swim actually works & others will pay you for it. You can’t finish if you don’t start.

The good news is that we start a lot of businesses. The bad news is most new businesses fail in the first 3-5 years. A recent Boston Consulting Group article stated that only 3% of businesses make it to their 11th anniversary. But you’ll be the exception. Right?

The next stage is aptly named the Survival stage where the owner begins to focus on what can keep the entity going for one more season as Jack Lemmon wished for in Save the Tiger.

You are surviving, year-to-year. Congratulations. Now how can you Stabilize the business?  Where are you going to find, and keep, enough customers for the revenue you need; the suppliers to make sure you can fill all the orders & right processes to regularly make your margins?

Now you’re ready for steady Growth. If you have built a good business model, are leveraging it properly, have the right financing in place, with a solid management team, with good marketing, in a growing market, you have the right elements on which to base your growth.

Professional Management is the next logical step. This is frequently required to take the entrepreneurial business to the next level. Further growth, sale, merger, etc., require a different skill set than most entrepreneurs needed to start & survive to this point. And that’s ok. Do what you do best; and hire the rest. This mantra has served many an entrepreneur; and it can serve you too.

If it were easy anyone could do it. You are special. With the proper planning & execution you can take your business as far as you desire.

For more on this contact me at DanielFeiman@BuildItBackwards.com

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