Evolving Your Business: The Six Growth Stages from Start-Up to Legacy

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Growth Acceleration, Scaling and Acceleration

Where it Begins

Think about what made you decide to go into business.  Was it for the freedom? Control? Legacy? Or was it for the joy of building something from the ground up?  

No matter what first came to your mind, I bet it did not include the opportunity to be anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, stuck, joyless, or struggling to spend enough time with family. Yet, if that is what you have, or are experiencing in your business journey, it is a sign that you should not ignore.  

Business is a journey, and it has a map

Business journeys have signs and paths that help us navigate the terrain.  The best way to save time and plot the best course on a journey is to use a map.  

The goal of this blog is to introduce you to a new business map – a simpler but more complete way to help you identify where you are and more quickly get to where you want to go.

The Starting Point: You are Here

When you look at a map, the first thing you do is to orient yourself to it.  You look at where you are, and then start to look at where you can go.  In your business journey, you need to do the same thing. 

When working with owners and leaders in software and technology companies, they and their staff often described their current state in ways that fell into six stages or destinations.  These are: 

Planting:  Seeding for growth

Drowning:  Battling the tide

Grinding:  Scraping for a breakthrough

Scattering:  Trying to see what will stick 

Evolving:  Advancing to freedom

Transcending:  Creating legacy and long-term impact

Destination Notes:

There are a couple of important notes about these destinations on the map as we unfold it.  Like a journey or road trip:

  • A business can visit or choose to stay at a destination.
  • Destinations can be visited in a linear sequence, but they do not have to be traveled to that way. 
  • A business can bypass some destinations. 
  • A company can visit or stay in more than one destination on any given segment of their journey. 
  • A business does not need to move or reach all the destinations. 

Journeys have obstacles to overcome

As on any journey, no one is forced to go from where they are to somewhere else.  It is a choice.  Before we explore the map further, we need to consider obstacles that can impact our ability to move from our current location.  

Action is needed

To move forward on any journey, we need to take action.  That said, taking action by itself will not necessarily take us to where we want to go.  The vehicle that got us to our current destination (behaviors, actions) may not be the only thing we need to get us to where we want to go.  Sometimes moving to our next destination requires change. 

Change can be challenging.  It can be even more daunting when the change needed to take place is inside of us as owners or leaders.  We can be one of the obstacles we encounter on our journey.  It is why it is important for us not just to look at the signs and paths on the journey, but at the potential obstacles, and how we can overcome them.  

Journeys take heart

Knowing that obstacles exist is important.  We can look at an obstacle from a logical perspective and make plans accordingly.  If we stop there, however, we will miss a component that needs to be part of the equation – the heart.  

Businesses are made up of people.  We are emotional beings at our core. As people, we pour our heart and soul into our endeavors. We have passion, pride, and self-worth. Our heart provides the fuel to take the actions we, and our people, need to progress in the journey.  

For each destination, there are signs, paths, and heart

At this point, we have identified the six destinations.  It is now time to visit each destination, one by one.  As we do, we will look at the signs to tell us where we are.  We will look at the path(s) that may help move us forward on the journey.  We will look at the state of heart for each destination and look at the obstacles that can stand in our way.  Let’s get started.

Destination 1: Planting – Seeding for Growth

When it comes to the destination of planting, we would typically be talking about a company early in its journey or any company in the process of launching something new to a new market.

Planting is the beginning of a journey and, as with most beginnings, comes with excitement, anticipation, and hopefulness.  

The Planting Stage can have obstacles

In theory, in order to plant, we had to prepare prior to planting the seeds.  One common obstacle at this destination is in our enthusiasm to make something happen. Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing, but it can get in the way if it is accompanied by misguided assumptions. We can convince ourselves our product or service will be great, but without having spent the time to vet it with potential customers.  

It is important to understand the best fit, to be able to define what value our product or service brings in business impact.  We also need to understand how we stack up with the competition. Unlike in the “Field of Dreams”, it is common to find that “if we build it, they will come” does not work well.  

Preparing the soil

There are too many variables for us to hope to get planting right, without doing diligence, asking tough questions, and testing our ideas.  A good question to ask when considering launching a new product or service is, “How many prospective buyers have we talked to pre-launch to get their input on the need, the value, and how likely they are to buy?”  Another question would be, “On what information are we basing our thoughts on customer impact and/or market fit?”

Signs you are Planting

As we plant, if we were not or have not been proactive in the process, certain signs will become more visible that point to our current location.  In Planting, signs like struggling to reference success stories are common. If we look more closely, we can also see other potential signs like not having a clear target market or not having clear messaging that is resonating with prospects.  It is when we have been in this state for a while, that we begin to feel anxious.  

This may sound like it would only apply to start-ups, but it can just as easily happen to existing companies trying to grow by introducing a new product to an existing or new market. 

Where do we go next?

The purpose of this blog is to introduce you to the map, structure, and terrain at a 30,000-foot level.  From here, we plan to provide a series of blogs that will take us deeper into each destination.  In each we will identifying the signs, exploring the heart states, and looking at the paths to help us move forward.  Within the series, we will share real stories along with tools you can use and strategies you can use to advance to where you want to go.  

Our goal is to help those who may feel overwhelmed, stuck, pressed, or joyless on to the path that allows you to achieve the vision you have for your business.

“Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.”

Proverbs 6:5


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