To identify how you take your business to the next level, first, you need to understand where you are starting from. Peter Searle, from Business Doctors, identifies four key stages your business may be at, their key traits and the opportunities that could be available to you if you take the right actions.
Regardless of what your business does, all enterprises have similar characteristics at different stages of their development. If you identify what stage your business is at, then the next step, is a well-trodden path which you can use the experience of others to follow — should you be brave enough to take it.
Let’s look at four stages many businesses will find themselves at at some point:
Start-up – the survival stage, “where is my next customer coming from?”
After the business comes into existence, the focus is to get some customers and grow the customer base. Marketing is the main occupation of time, and if the cash does not run out, then your business will start to grow. The growth is likely to be responsive to what occurs and lack structure. Many businesses get to this stage, and the owner continues to just “get by”. Their main concern remains, where is my next customer coming from?
After a couple of years trading, you can either continue to just “get by” forever or invest in some organisation and structure to achieve the next stage, which can be very rewarding.
Lifestyle – it’s all about you and your motives.
This is a great place to be, the business provides you with a comfortable income, you can choose your customers, and the team you have assembled around you make it an enjoyable place to work. The only issue with this is that you can become the hub of the business and when you are not there the business slows down. I call this the “owners trap”. So, you can either remain trapped in your business or set about “scaling-up”, so it is not dependent upon you.
Scalable with breakthrough growth
At this stage, there are lots of different opportunities to grow a business if the owner is willing to give up being the face of the business. Making sense of the opportunities and letting go takes a brave business owner. 95% of businesses in the UK are less than ten people, and this is because people find letting go and scaling up to be too much of a step. Scaling up the business and making it less reliant on you will give you the freedom to choose what you want to do; which leads nicely to the final stage.
Exit the business through a sale or passing it on.
Business owners cannot stop the ageing process. As much as some would like to work forever, the length of time people are now living means that this is not practical or fair on the staff. The body and mind slow down, and at some stage, you should take a back seat or exit. The transition to retirement is a big step and managing it for all parties is a sensitive issue.
So, are you are at; Survival, Lifestyle, Scalable or Saleable stage and brave enough to want to make a change?