A successful business person is often headstrong, brave and diligent. Conversely in business, however, we must also recognize that no one has all the answers and learning from others’ experiences is vital to our own development.
The Harvard Business Review published a report outlining the 5 stages of small business growth. In the report, Churchill and Lewis claim that understanding the current progression of a business facilitates logical and effective strategizing. Although it’s now over 30 years old, this definitive article is often referenced today as a useful framework for defining and managing Small Medium Enterprise (SME) growth. Every business is unique and will therefore face different challenges; however there are many typical stages which largely relate to the vast majority of SME’s. The comprehension of this structure can prove to be beneficial to business owners, allowing them to calculate both risk and sensible investment.
The vast majority of the work for a start-up is carried out by its owner, although there may be one or two employees on a small staff helping out. It is imperative at this stage to gain and maintain a customer base, as many companies fail before they even have a tangible revenue stream. It is likely that there will be some start-up capital in place, but this can quickly run out. Many businesses also invest in the foundations of a long term strategy, before they have taken their first steps, which can be ultimately fatal. For example, I have seen a few small freight/shipping start-ups who invest in IT systems, resources and staff before they even have a client base to justify their outlay.