Picture this. You’re traveling down the road at breakneck speed. Music is blaring. Kids are hanging out the window. And, the scenery? Frankly, it’s all a blur.
The road has potholes, the engine’s knocking, and Bobbie is missing – all clear indicators that this trip is headed for trouble. Plus, if you’re honest, this terrain isn’t the least bit familiar.
You’re moving so quickly there’s little time to make sure you’re headed in the right direction…let alone recalibrate your GPS to determine if the “you are here” is accurate.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it – with one exception. This isn’t a scene ripped out of National Lampoon’s Vacation, it’s your small business journey.
Where Did Things Go Wrong
Toddler, teens, and tweens share common developmental characteristics that help the often-befuddled parent successfully maneuverer the various pitfalls and perils of raising children.
So, too, business growth comes with its distinctive stages of development complete with growing pains. Ahhhhh!
As a parent, you don’t want to coach or parent your kids beyond their developmental capabilities – that’s how misfits and oddballs are fashioned. The same philosophy applies to your business.
Just when you thought you were done with the diaper stage, you’re right back to sleepless nights and sh*tty jobs no one else wants to do. Plus, you want to make sure you’re not jumping over the stages that your business needs to mature to “adulthood.”
It’s enough to make the most stoic of us break down in tears – or at least a cold sweat.
What’s Your Stage?
It’s common to misidentify the stage your business inhabits. In fact, some entrepreneurs categorize the period of growth and development on years in the industry rather than revenue. This is a huge mistake as growth initiatives and precious resources are misdirected.
In a nutshell, the most common phases are:
Stage One: Core Business Development
For a service-based business, this period ranges from startup to approximately $500,000 in annual revenue. This is the time to prove your business model, find your place in the sun, and build a strong foundation.
Business coaching, during this stage, is focused on client acquisition with an emphasis on creating predictability in the area of marketing, sales, and planning. (We love predictability.)
Stage Two: Expansion
Whew! You’ve made it through the proving stage. Breathe a bit of sigh of relief, if for only a moment. It’s time to engage the clutch, shift gears, and formalize your operational system.
If your business is in the service industry, this phase generally occurs between $500,000 – $5 million in annual revenue, give or take.
Feeling overcome with chaos and overwhelm? Guess what…you’re not alone! You can thank the clash for resources between client acquisition/sales and operations for this anxiety-inducing moment.
The entrepreneurial spirit that carried your business thus far continues to fuel innovation.
With the addition of staff, you are no longer the “lone wolf.” Learning to effectively delegate, communicate, lead and coach your staff is vitally important to free you up to focus on more of the strategic aspect of the business.
In addition to executing the critical operational structure needed to bring calm and consistently to the chaos of growth, coaching of your business includes guiding you through the development of operational, strategic, and leadership skills needed for the uphill climb.
Hang on! There actually is light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not a train coming at you.)
***** This is where we leave you with a condensed version of what happens next as our range of expertise and skills with business coaching and strategic planning primarily focuses on stage 1 & 2.
Stage Three: Professionally Managed Enterprise
From approximately $5 – $40 million in annual revenue for a service – based business, the focus of business coaching is on strategic planning and development and performance management. This emphasis allows you, as the owner, to keep your eye on profits as you expand your products and services.
Stage Four: Organizational Maturity
Culture and management is the primary focus of business coaching when your organization soars about the $40 million annual revenue mark. Who knows! At this point, you may be looking to succession planning with the destination of retirement looming in the near distance.
Shift Into the Right Gear
You haven’t lost your mind (although we all question our sanity on occasion.) In this fast-moving information age, it’s easy to get distracted by other activities outside the primary focus of the stage our business resides. It’s this lack of focus that pulls us off course and sends us careening into obstacles. It’s feeling like a human pinball that constructs a crisis of identity and drives us to grab at straws – any straws – to get us back on track.
If you’re looking for the super highway of predictable growth for your business, identify your business’ stage of growth, shift gears, and align your daily activity with the correct focus.
Trust me, it’s a trip worth taking!