This week’s topic is life cycles of a business, and how to get the most out of each life cycle, while also extending the lifespan of your business. (And yes, isn’t a “baby” business exciting, cute and fun? The thing is, you will need to shift as the “baby” grows)
The four different stages of a business life cycle are:
We’ll talk a little about what each of these cycles means and how they can each help expand or extend your business’ lifespan.
All of these stages bring in the 3 basic roles of the entrepreneurial environment/business/owner: the Entrepreneur, the Technician, and the Manager.
This is generally considered the phase of the technician, which is one of the “hats” or roles being worn by the owner. At this point, the relationship between the business and the owner is that of a parent and new baby. There is an impenetrable bond that is necessary to determine the path your business will follow. The business and the owner are deeply and personally attached, part and parcel of each other.
The key is to know that you AND your business must grow in order to flourish, and that you cannot stay in this stage forever. The challenge is that many business owners continue to view the business as themselves, and do not prepare the business nor themselves to separate from that “baby-ship” bond. It’s also a reason why many owners are afraid to see their businesses “grow up”, and have other “relationships” so necessary for growth. These folks want to perform all roles for their baby. That’s not healthy for the baby, nor for the “parent”/owner.
In this stage you need to start bringing your support staff together. You need to delegate and allow growth to happen…and let your “baby” be handled by other people. The first line of defense is your technical person, as they need to bring a certain level of technical experience. However, this cycle really belongs to the manager. The planning stage needs to start and a relationship should be built with the entrepreneur to plan for the future.
There’s a point in every business when business explodes and becomes chaotic. This is referred to as growing pains. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. You are often faced with 3 basic choices:
Moving ahead requires collaboration and communication from and with all roles (Technician, Entrepreneur and Manager). All 3 must step up, communicate openly, and collaborate with the others. At this time, it’s important to be very clear on strategies and plans—even if the strategy is to stay as is. An honest assessment or SWOT analysis (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) needs to be performed by each role for their areas of expertise, as well as for the company as a whole.
The last cycle is maturity, though this doesn’t mean the end of your business. Your passion for growth must continue in order for your business to succeed. You need to keep an entrepreneurial perspective in order to push your business forward.
There are 3 areas that MUST be addressed, even if you want your company to remain as-is. To change NOTHING (or choose to always do and be what you’ve always done and been) doesn’t mean that you will stay status quo—it means that you will eventually slide backward and start to fail. Even mature companies must do these 3 things to stay alive and viable:
Continually master their craft by learning and changing
Build continued chemistry with clients, through understanding them and “walking in their shoes”
Deliver products and services that feed clients’ changing needs and desires…and this means listening to the clients.
Take nothing for granted. Learn, empathize and listen. Always. If you don’t, your business will slip into the fifth and final phase– and will pass away, die. If that’s what you want, then that’s something to be welcomed. If not, your business, and you as its leader, must be fed and nurtured. Always.
You see how all of these cycles are connected– and depend on a strong foundation for each one of them– in order for your business to be (and continue to be) successful. All three of your key roles must work together to work through these cycles.