The 6 Life Cycle Phases of Small Businesses
What if there were a GPS that showed you all the major achievements your business was going to discover as it grows? Wouldn’t it be great to know what’s coming next and how to utilize this navigation well?
That framework exists, and from a practical standpoint, an essential tool for you to strategically plan, lead and operate your business. Over the last several years I have seen the evolution of this structure prove fundamental success in countless companies, regardless of their size or industry.
When you comprehend and apply these 6 stages, you’ll understand how to ignite a perfect balance between creativity and systems. And when that happens, the growth and development of your business becomes a lot more inevitable by MAXIMIZING your plan, people and processes.
Phase 1 – Striving
If you are wondering how you will ever get a steady flow of new qualified customers , you’re probably in the “Striving” stage of growth. You want to be quickly profitable and pursue a sustainable market…right? Is your product or service practical? Does it work? Can you finance it?
Phase 2 – Cultivation
In the second stage, simply called “Cultivation,” which could also be referred to as refinement period. Probably… a little more money in the bank at the end of the month than there was at the beginning. You’ve figured out your product or service, and now, you are beginning to experience and enjoy the possibilities of the profitable, sustainable market.
Phase 3 – Rapids
Part of what makes the Cultivation phase so engaging is that everything is relatively simple. As an intuitive entrepreneur and the decision maker, you can say “let’s do it” to every idea and implement it quickly. But over time, your business gets more complex.
The irritations begin as some customers become critical. Frustrations appear readily as followup falls through. Your high standards and quality suffers. Your team(s) aren’t hitting their goals. And that’s when you know you’ve moved into the “Rapids” phase “I have a major issue with complexity,” These mistakes and poor communication cost you money, so all that great profitability you were enjoying in the Cultivation phase has lessened to some extent.
Phase 4 – Grind
In this fourth phase, you may be hitting the goals and milestones you want to maintain. You may have reached a formidable balance of strategy, people and processes that you envisioned on the Striving & Cultivation stages. It’s looking like it scalable and you have many predictable systems in place to succeed.
Hopefully you stay here and grow, But what happens if you don’t? It’s not that you have regressed to the “rapids” but rather it’s the opposite — doldrums or stagnation.
Under-processed in the Rapids but now over-processed, policy over your principles, an administrative, bureaucratic GRIND. This was what you were getting away from when you started the business!
Phase 5 – Rut
This next phase, “Rut,” is just like Grind, but in this case, the establishment has been entrenched and accepted.
This is the Department of Motor Vehicles. We all hate going there because the environment there really doesn’t care about customers. The mentality here, let’s go along to get along, hopefully we can get through it. We have processes and policies and the customers, team members need to just deal with the system.
Phase 6 – Life Support
This is the bitter end, “The Death Watch” of the company. The innovative spirit is long gone. The dealmaker has left, too.
Now all that’s left are processors who are there, David “to make sure we don’t miss any steps on the death march.” Blackberry. Blockbuster. Now probably Sears have all been down this road.
Too you identify with any of this phases? Why? What are your options to move toward an authentic evaluation and assessment of you and your business? Could you use some help while contemplating on best case scenarios?