Every business, no matter its size goes through four stages of business growth. With this growth comes delight as well as the dreaded growing pains.
The first stage is called Core Business Development. The single priority is to sell your service or product. Spending all of your time figuring out how to sell to your target market. Once you can figure out who your market is, you will need the perfect way to get in front of them. Within this stage, the main difficulties of the business are obtaining customers and delivering your service or product. The company's strategy is simply to stay alive. The challenges are market acceptance, business structure and wondering if your idea will be profitable.
The second stage is Start-up. At this point you have become an expert in selling your service or product. You have cornered the market and now it's time to find additional customers. This is when you move from one service or product to multiples as quickly as possible. Creating new brands, diversifying and growing new business. At this point, the business has become an established ,workable business entity. The organization is still simple. Systems development is minimal and planning is basically cash forecasting. Many companies remain at this stage for some time. In this stage, establishing a customer base and market presence are highlighted. The owner also needs to make certain the cash is managed appropriately.
Expansion is the third stage. Also known as Growth/Survival . In this stage, you are generally moving much too fast for your own good. In the sense of the organization, the company has grown large enough to require functional managers' to take over certain duties from the owner. Basic financial, marketing and production systems are in place. Monitoring protocols should also be put into place at this stage. As the business matures, it and its owner start to move apart. Much of this is due to the owner placing responsibility on the managers. Challenges in this stage include moving into new markets, expanding existing business while adding new products or services. There may also be increased market competition.
Maturity – To Sustain and Produce. After a successful expansion, you are at the final stage of the business lifecycle. Your business could still be growing but not at a substantial rate. In this stage, as an owner you need to take a step back towards the expansion stage or to think of a possible exit strategy. In this last stage, you experience all of the difficulty in the expansion stage but with the added hurdle of an exit strategy.