We all start out in business like this…with a dream of running our own business that provides abundantly and the freedom to work as we want. And many of us also envision making a difference - In the lives of our customers or clients and maybe even in the community or the world.
We take the first steps to get things rolling. We stumble or fall. We get back up. And we often struggle to create momentum. This process continues for a while…until the moment when we decide to stop getting up.
To me, the truly sad part of the story is that this is the moment where many women let their dreams of being entrepreneurs die. The moment when they return to a job where they are helping someone else’s dreams come true. What makes it so sad to me is that their ideas, their creations, their solutions never fully come to be. When I close my eyes, I feel the void this creates in the world and the scar it leaves in the heart of that woman.
And it’s totally preventable.
That cycle of stumbling or falling and getting back up is normal in the early stages of business. Yet, with the right focus, it is possible to move gracefully from that stage.
Every business goes through natural stages of growth. Most of us don’t know much about these stages. We aren’t taught a lot about them. And each stage has its unique challenges and solutions.
Without awareness of the challenges + the solutions that help us move with ease, we are left to stumble [often], get up [slowly], and try again [and again]. If we have the endurance to weather many, many stumbles, we might make it to the next stage of business growth. But many entrepreneurs don’t.
In that phase of stumbling and getting up, we are grabbing at every tactic that promises to fix our problem. We are implementing different tactics all the time and we aren’t seeing the results we want. We are spending our limited funds on solutions that don’t fit our current needs. And we are burning out.
We waste time, energy, money + our creative genius on activities that don’t actually help us grow. Take Lu for example.
Lu is an artist I met recently who hired a virtual assistant to handle tasks she did not like doing. She hired the VA at a time when she was not generating enough revenue to even support herself. As the VA took over certain tasks, Lu did not use the free time to engage in building a potential client base or on revenue generating activities. She had to let the VA go after 3 months. The artist had no new clients and was in an even tighter cash crunch than before. Good strategy. Wrong time.
Sound familiar? Maybe it’s not your story but I’ll bet you know someone else who has lived that story.
Think about this…your business is a bit like a garden. You need to engage in certain actions at different times during different seasons. In the natural world, the cycle goes a bit like this: You plant, you fertilize + feed, you tend + grow, you harvest, you replenish and replant.
Your business most likely follows a similar cycle. But you can’t harvest if you never plant or fertilize, right?!?
STAGES OF BUSINESS GROWTH
Let’s start by identifying what stage your business is in. Here’s a super quick 1-question quiz to find out:
Which challenge best describes your current situation? (pick only one of the following)
I’m constantly chasing the next thing [oooh…look at those shiny objects]. I lack focus or am simply not sure what to do to grow my business. Sales are inconsistent.
Sales are steady but not what I want. I’m not connecting to the right people. I’m not sure what the right product or service offers are for my ideal clients. My marketing messages bounce around.
Sales are good but my business is too dependent on me to get everything done. I think my biz could grow except that I’m the place where everything gets bottled-up because I’m so busy.
My business is a well-oiled machine. Sales are strong. I work with ease.
If you answered A, you are most likely in the days of Dream Up, you are rich with ideas…revenue hasn’t really started, you are scattering seed, and germinating ideas. Rather than operating on simple strategy, you are winging it. And there’s a lot to be learned during this phase.
I like to say that the TRUTH of this phase: You generally have no idea what you are doing.
With the right care, you move into Build Up. If you answered B, this most likely describes your biz: You are attracting followers and fans. Sales pick up [yeah!!]. You are doing everything [and this means you are excited + exhausted]. There is a lot to do and it’s all vying for your attention. Generally, this is the time of more intentional expansion instead of reacting to whatever comes your way. Still, you lose focus a lot. And when your focus is scattered and your energy is low, you are spending money and time from a very reactionary place + you are spending a lot.
The TRUTH of this phase: You can’t keep going like this. It’s time to build up the foundation under the business.
If you answered C, you are poised to move from Build Up to Grown Up. You are busy + revenue is good. You feel great satisfaction with your business + your work. When you develop systems + add a team, things can flourish. This is often the time you might even get restless…maybe even start dreaming of your next adventure. By now, the business is masterful at 1 or 2 key messages and is ‘known’ for something specific.
The TRUTH of this phase: You finally know what’s working in the business.
If you answered D, you learned how to focus efforts on the right actions and are now Thriving. Here, revenue is excellent + opportunities seem endless. You [+ your team] feel a deep sense of pride. You have time to explore a greater legacy + spend time focusing outward instead of just on the business. Often, the owner experiences a high degree of freedom and influence.
The TRUTH of this phase: You can move fast but you can’t turn quickly.
So knowing the stage of your business isn’t very sexy, right? But when know which stage your biz is in, you can decide if the activities that get your time, attention and money make sense to help your business grow. Because being SheEO is all about making choices and decisions. About being intentional rather than reactionary.
I’ve created a simple infographic that highlights the actions that make the biggest difference during each stage. Right Actions. Right Times. You can grab a copy here.
Getting a handle on the stage your business is in helps you anticipate pitfalls, plan proactively, really own your next steps with confidence, and stop wasting precious time, money, and energy. Once I understood the stage my biz was in, I felt less alone in the world…knowing that the frustrations and setbacks I was working through were common. Yep, we’re in this together!
By Denise Roseland
Hi there! I’m Denise Roseland, CEO + Founder of ChangeMaker Consulting. I’m a business strategist, author and speaker on an unapologetic quest to support women entrepreneurs, healers, consultants, hippie-earth-mama business owners, and other queen bee movement makers find success and thrive in the work they do. How can I help you design + navigate your next business breakthrough?