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 in trouble. Plus, if you’re honest, this terrain isn’t the least bit familiar.
You’re moving so quickly that there’s little time to ensure you’re moving 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
Toddlers, teens, and tweens share common developmental characteristics that help the often-befuddled parent successfully maneuver 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. The same philosophy applies to your business.
When you thought the diaper stage was over, you’re right back to sleepless nights and sh*tty jobs no one else wants to do. Plus, you want to ensure 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. For example, some entrepreneurs categorize the period of growth and development on years in the industry rather than revenue. The miscalculation is a colossal mistake as growth initiatives and precious resources fail proper allocation.
In a nutshell, the most common phases are:
Stage One: Core Business Development
This period ranges from startup to approximately $500,000 in annual revenue for a service-based business. Stage one is the time to prove your business model, find your place in the sun, and build a strong foundation.
During this stage, business coaching focuses on client acquisition with an emphasis on creating predictability in 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. Then, 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 $350,000 – $1 million in annual revenue, give or take.
Are you feeling overcome with chaos and overwhelmed? Guess what? You’re not alone! You can thank the clash of 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.” Therefore, learning to delegate, communicate, lead and coach your team effectively 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 consistency to the chaos of growth, coaching your business includes guiding you through the development of operational, strategic, and leadership skills required for the uphill climb.
Hang on! There is light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not a train coming at you.)
Stage Three: Professionally Managed Enterprise
From approximately $5 – $40 million in annual revenue for a service-based business, business coaching focuses on strategic planning, 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
When your organization soars about the $40 million annual revenue mark, culture and management are the primary focus of business coaching. Who knows! At this point, you may be looking to succession planning with the near retirement destination.
Shift Into the Right Gear for Business Growth
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. This lack of focus 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’s stage of development, shift gears, and align your daily activity with the correct focus.
Trust me. It’s a trip worth taking!