Business growth

The 5 Stages of Business Growth (2024)

What Is Business Development?

In the simplest terms, business development is a process aimed at growing a company and making it more successful. Business growth can include seeking new business opportunities, building and sustaining connections with existing clients, entering strategic partnerships, and devising other plans to boost profits and market share.

1. Development Stage

Whether you’re pursuing a lifelong dream, or you’ve identified an unmet need in a specific market, taking the initial steps to start your own business can be an exciting time. But with so many factors to consider, the process can also be confusing and challenging. 

If you’ve made the decision to take the entrepreneurial leap, doing so with a clear plan in place—a roadmap of sorts—will help guide you along the way and prepare you for the inevitable twists and turns that come with starting, and growing, a new business. So, where do you start? 

  • Develop a Detailed Business Plan: 

Your best bet is to develop a detailed business plan. Whether you’re in need of funding, a set of goals (and timelines to meet them), a detailed customer profile, or all the above, statistics show that new business owners who start off with a plan are twice as likely to succeed as those who don’t.

  • Check your resources: 

A new entrepreneur can begin by conducting a comprehensive inventory of their resources. This involves assessing their personal skills, knowledge, and experiences, as well as any financial assets or networks they can leverage. 

  • Company’s Aspirations 

One thing that every plan should include, however, is a realistic reflection of your company’s aspirations. It’s also important to understand that most successful business plans regularly evolve as reviews are performed, milestones are reached, marketing plans are modified, and new targets and objectives are identified.

While business plans can go a long way in helping you build a business that’s more attractive to outside investors, during these early stages of a business, it’s important to continue creating a foundation that sets you up for success, regardless of outside interests.

That foundation will look different depending on your business’ focus and your ultimate goals, but here are a few items to consider when setting yourself up to take your first big steps into the market:

  • Identify how your concept/product/idea fills a need in the market
  • Gauge how well accepted it will be in the market
  • Determine your ideal outcome – from profits to adoption rate to overall effectiveness
  • Become yourself as a business developer.
Partners celebrating their business growth

2. Start-up Stage

Once you have a plan, it’s time to implement it—kicking off the next stage of business growth: the start-up stage. During this time, you will test the viability of your big ideas and the effectiveness of your capabilities—and this stage can represent a series of make-or-break moments for many small business owners.

But we’re not talking about pass/fail tests here. If things aren’t progressing the way you want or need them to be, it’s okay to reassess and pivot as you go. This flexibility will allow you to figure out what changes need to be made to build a healthier, more resilient business. A large part of building a stronger business comes with attracting (and holding on to) a team that shares your vision and mission—one that can help you do the work necessary to carry out your collective plan.

At this important stage of business development, the people you hire can have a lasting, positive impact on the culture, values, and performance that defines your business. That’s why it’s important to build a team that doesn’t just share your goals, but also has the skill set and diversity of ideas necessary to help you achieve them. 

It’s a tall task, to be sure, but it is possible. And suppose you’re struggling to find (or attract) the employees you need to make it all happen. In that case, there are experienced, outside resources, like G&A, who can help you navigate the recruiting process and build a pipeline of experienced talent.

Another key to creating and maintaining positive momentum, is having the necessary capital on hand to make it all happen. Whether raising money, finding investors, or managing cash flow, knowing your options, and maximizing their potential, can go a long way toward giving you the stability you need to help get your business off the ground.

Ultimately, the start-up stage is when you start to put all the pieces together. As you continue to establish the core elements of your business, a few key areas to focus on include:

  • Establishing a customer base and market presence
  • Managing accounts in a way that best suits your operation
  • Navigating the way your funds are sourced and allocated

Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of over-hiring upon seeing their growth. 

3. Business Growth Stage

Once you’ve reached a comfortable pace, you’re ready to look ahead to the next phase: growing your small business.

The growth potential is an exciting prospect, but knowing how (and when) to make it happen can be a strategic balancing act. For example, many successful companies have struggled to keep pace with increasing cash flow and customer base without losing sight of their core business principles.

So, before jumping headlong into accelerated growth, take the time to review and recalibrate your current business plan to fit your new reality.  Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of over-hiring upon seeing their growth. 

Take a moment to think about what services you can outsource.

1. Administrative, payroll, and back-office services

Hiring these Business Process Outsourcing companies will allow you to focus on your core expansion objectives without dealing with monotonous jobs that waste your time and that of your trusted staff.

2. Customer Service: As you think about expansion, it is customary to create an entire department to deal with complaints, suggestions, claims, and mishandling that may arise, but this is also an essential item that you can outsource and handle with companies that have the expertise to handle these re-processes that guarantee good service and customer satisfaction.

3. Digital Marketing: Like all businesses, you need to have visibility on the Internet, and there are agencies complete with the talent this requires. SEO experts, quality content generators, social media managers, graphic designers, photographers, and a host of other personnel that your company should not hire directly as a sound financial decision.

Thinking about the services you can outsource can help you more easily determine what is needed from a financial and interpersonal standpoint. 

This practice can also help you identify unforeseen opportunities or specific areas of improvement in your business model, i.e., where you should send your financial resources strategically and more wisely before plotting your staff’s growth.

back-office

4. Expansion Stage

Characterized by a new season of rapid growth and increasing distribution channels, your expansion stage is when you test the boundaries of what is possible for your small business.

At this point in the life of your business, finding ways to increase your market share or revenue streams requires a very detailed understanding of your company’s strengths and what they’re worth on the open market. With that understanding in place, you can begin your evaluation of potential expansion routes and chart a course into new markets to reach new customers. 

Regardless of the shape your expansion takes, the key to doing so successfully is understanding your business’s limits while aiming to maximize its potential. One expansion solution, for example, might involve merging with or acquiring another business. 

5. Maturity Stage

When your company reaches the maturity stage, it results from a lot of hard work and perseverance, along with a business idea that has proven its worth. Through strategic planning and maneuvering, you and your team created the perfect climate for success—helping you to evolve from start-up to industry standard bearer. It’s now, for mature businesses, that the importance of growth merges with the need for retention and other business interests.

Although maturity is considered a final stage for business growth, it is not a finish line, or a time to sit back, put the evolving strategies and planning aside and coast along for years to come. Businesses are living, breathing entities. Long-term success requires inspiration, continued commitment, and an ability to meet the needs of an ever-changing world and customer base with new products and ideas. Stagnation, at this point, invites greater competition and makes reacting to market trends more cumbersome.

Another way to help ensure continued momentum, is to revisit your business growth plan once again, and determine whether pivoting to a new expansion stage or considering an exit strategy is the way forward. Evolution, expansion, and reinvention are the hallmarks of any business with a long history of success. If you consider what’s right for you, your team, and your business, the sky’s the limit.