Last week’s lesson focused on the challenges business owners face in the early stages of growth. The famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow once said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” If you choose growth and your business is more established, you’re likely worrying less about daily survival, and the skills and expertise that you need are more focused on creating processes, systems and managing your team.

The Third Stage, based on The Five Stages of Small Business Growth article by Neil Churchill and Virginia Lewis, is known as the Success Stage. At this point you have proven that you are sustainable (at least for the short term) and have two key opportunities for your business. You can either decide that you want to “Sustain” the level of stability and profit that you have achieved (many mom-and-pop operations fall into this category and are happy to remain where they are) or you can choose a more solid “Growth” trajectory and exploit your achievements to expand even more dramatically.

The decision you make at this stage has a huge impact on how you run your business. The key challenge you face if you decide to sustain your success is that you need to manage your competition properly to ensure you can maintain market share, and you must be able to commit the time to invest in a solid, continued growth. However, if you choose the “Growth” path you must ensure that you have the money, the systems and the team in place to take your business to the next level. At this point the business becomes less about the owner and your personal goals. The quality and diversity of your team now becomes a key driver in your success. In addition, you must have the systems and controls in place to manage the team and the business and be comfortable and adept at delegation. This stage is a key turning point for many business owners.

The Fourth Stage
is known as Take-off. At this stage you are off and running and you need key assets such as money, as well as a strong team that can manage a company that is now becoming more complex. You will need to delegate because as you grow the balancing act between growing too fast and running short on cash becomes quite tricky. It’s at this stage that the original team (sometimes even the founder) may slowly disappear, either voluntarily or by force to ensure the business can operate on its own.

Finally, the Maturity Stage is one where the organization looks quite different than it did when it first
launched. The main drivers of success are managing the systems for the business, ensuring the team is qualified and the business can maintain its position in the market. It’s important at this stage to avoid obsolescence by not being too bureaucratic in nature nor losing sight of your brand value and being undermined by disruptive innovators (those young Turks at the initial stages of business not bogged
down by rules and regulations).

Weekly Lesson Six (Try this…)
If you’re in the later stages of growth, you need to make decisions that impact your ability to separate your company’s goals from your personal goals, skills, interests and expertise. Consider the challenges below and if you are facing one of these, write down one action that you can take in the next two weeks to improve your situation.

The quality and diversity of the team are critical to success and we don’t have the right mix.
Action to Improve Situation:

We do not have a strategic plan in place or we have one but don’t use it regularly
Action to Improve Situation:

We do not have systems and controls to support, measure and manage our performance

Action to Improve Situation:


2 thoughts on “Bloginar Weekly Lesson Six: Stages of Growth: Success, Takeoff & Maturity

  1. Question: How long can a company spend a prolonged amount of time in stage three and then decide to take off? Is it ever too late? Does it get harder?

    1. Great questions. Stage three can be a month or years or forever.. depending on the company’s goals for growth. They can choose to sustain their level of success where they currently are or if they make a leap forward, they must recognize the effort that will be required to get to the next phase. It’s never too late, however. Think about family run businesses where the company stays at one stage for years until the next generation decides it’s time to leverage their success and enter new markets or develop additional products that align with customer needs. It’s never easy… growth and acceleration always require hard work but hopefully rewarding for all involved.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s