The 5 Stages of a Small Business Lifecycle
When it comes to the growth and longevity of your small business, there is a lot to consider – from products and services to markets to financial stability. At Lendified, we always aim to simplify the process for small business owners, so that you can achieve your long-term goals for your small business. Here we break down the five phases of small business growth and success.
The startup stage of a business starts with ideation and concepting. From there, it’s commitment and validation that put these ideas into action. The first several months to a year of starting a small business is all about establishing - it’s a period marked by both strategizing and experimentation, and there is much trial and error during this time. During this time key activities typically include planning, raising capital, developing prototypes or service models and establishing the brand - naming the business, developing a visual identity, website and/or physical space and marketing materials. Founding a business is an exciting time but one that requires patience and steady pacing.
After a small business is up and running and seeing marginal success within the first 6 months to a year, many small business owners look to growth as the next step for their small business dreams. Key growth activities include marketing and sales, hiring, and streamlining operations (e.g. production or processes). We have some great tips on other smart ways to grow your small business already up on the blog here. Building a strategy and plan of action for how you are going to achieve growth is essential to making it happen. Typically, growth requires additional investment. At this stage, small business owners may explore various business financing options.
Following a period of business growth, it’s natural to start thinking about expansion and how you can develop into entirely new areas you’ve never explored before. One way to expand your small business is to operate in new markets. This means putting your business into a new “space” with a whole new customer base. One way to do this is to take your local business and make it global by entering the online market, but expansion can also mean opening another brick and mortar store in a new neighbourhood. In both instances you are in an entirely new place with many new potential clients.
Another great way to expand into new markets is to diversify your product offerings. By providing greater product selection you widen your potential customer base as well.
The key to small business expansion is excellent planning and a big dose of innovation - it requires big picture thinking. Take a look around you – what’s missing in the market, what could happen to make the world around you better? Collaborating with other small businesses and creative thought leaders is another great way to start innovating the next big thing.
Looking beyond small business growth and expansion, the goal is ultimately sustainability - you have built and grown something meaningful, and you want it to last - how can your small business survive and thrive in the long run? If expansion takes innovation, then longevity certainly requires adaptability.
There will always be new businesses and new ideas emerging, so you as a small business owner have to be adaptable to the changing world around you. In a way, it involves becoming a visionary and leader in your field. Rely on the expertise of all that you’ve learned as a business owner, but stay open to trying out new ideas so that you become both the trusted advisor and the visionary. One important way to do this is to leverage new technologies. In the past few years alone, we’ve seen how technology can change how we do business. Keeping apprised of new information will help you adapt your small business.
But becoming a visionary involves more than just staying on top of changing technology, it also requires being conscious of your community and the world around you. Investing in culture and social good will ultimately leave a legacy for your small business. Giving back is the genuine attitude of longevity.
- Exit Strategy
The last step of any small business owner’s journey is the exit strategy. Will you leave it to the next generation or will you sell it to someone else? In some cases, a small business fulfills its purpose within the lifecycle of its founder.
Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing to consider is to have enough for your retirement. This involves rigorous planning and analysis to ensure that you have accounted for the long-term needs of you and your family – whatever lifestyle you chose – for the rest of your days.
Whether growing, expanding, or thriving, Lendified’s small business loans can help you every step of the way.
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About the Author
Lendified is Canada's premier online lender for small businesses. The company was founded by former bank executives dedicated to provide businesses with fast, easy, and affordable financing. The Lendified team regularly produces blogs and guides to help small business owners succeed.