I believe, for the businesses that survive, there are three phases and two types of growth. The three phases are startup, stability, and scale. Types are external and internal. Most companies or entrepreneurs work through the startup phase using blood and guts. Meaning they put everything on their back and march forward making it work any way they can. Their success is often created through sheer determination and will. During this time the type of growth the entrepreneur is focused on is external; sales, revenue, adoption, market share, and hopefully profit. If they do that long enough they eventually get to phase two; stabilization.
Stabilization is about internal growth i.e. getting the right people and engineering the right systems to make the company both predictable and sustainable. Entrepreneurs often struggle here because of their bias towards action and the mundane nature of this phase. It isn’t fun. In fact, it can be downright boring. My encouragement is to practice patience and ideally use this phase to assemble an allstar executive team and to install an operating system in the company.. Getting this right is so important. Please check the reference section below for some great insights and tools.
Scale switches the focus back to external growth and yet it’s done in a much smoother fashion than start up. As my good friend Craig Zuber says “it’s moving from blood and guts to ease and elegance.” This is the phase to take territory with the intention of never relinquishing it. The entrepreneur is back in their favorite mode and looking for explosive levels of growth. Hold on and have fun!
“Individuals don’t build companies. Teams build companies. Individuals build teams.”
If scale is done properly over time guess what? It’s time again for stabilization. This would be a really great time to educate yourself on what’s called the Rule 3 of 10. Essentially every time your company grows by internals of three and ten everything you have breaks. Your old way of doing it no longer works and you must reinvent the operating system and infrastructure. A great company that stands the test of time will continuously oscillate between stabilization and scale while maintaining the cultural grit of a startup.
My intention in writing this is to help new and seasoned business owners that our mission isn’t to have a great year. It’s to have a great career. Play the long game and climb the staircase of success to whatever heights your life by design calls for.