Stage 1: Development
This stage actually takes place before your business even becomes a business. In this phase, you'll be developing your products or services, finding suppliers and other service providers, and establishing the goals for your company. Take the time to do ample research on the market you intend to enter so that you can set yourself up for success right from the start.
Stage 2: Startup
Once you have completed the planning process, it's time to launch your business. This is the riskiest phase for any company in any industry. You'll need to keep close watch on all company activities to ensure that your team is working on the most critical tasks in this delicate stage. It is also important to be flexible during this period as you gain feedback from your earliest customers. Don't be afraid to tweak your offerings to better meet the needs of your customers.
Stage 3: Establishment
By this point, your business should have a solid customer base and continue to bring in new customers. Your products and services should have reached their peak at this time as well. Your company's cash flow should cover your ongoing expenses, and you should be able to see a bit of extra money to cover the expenses related to future growth.
Stage 4: Expansion
Now is the time to start really pushing to grow your business. Draw on your existing customer base for referrals to keep growing your company. This phase is also the ideal time to think about adding new products or services to your arsenal. Use customer feedback to guide you in the best areas for your company to grow. Don't forget about the importance of delegating once you reach this phase. Your team can likely handle many of the daily tasks you complete yourself, freeing you up to focus more on growing your enterprise.
Stage 5: Maturity
In the maturity stage, you are running a successful business with stable income and high-quality products or services. Your customers are happy with your offerings, and your team is more than capable of handling their work load. At this point, you can keep doing what you are doing, sitting back to watch the profits roll in. You also have the option of selling your company. With this route, you can obtain a large windfall of cash and relieve yourself of the ongoing duties of running your business so that you can shift your focus to your next endeavor.
Although every business is unique, the stages that it will go through are common across all industries. It is important to know where your company falls in this hierarchy so that you know which tasks are most deserving of your time. The better prepared you are for each stage, the easier it will be to progress to the next level.