cheatsheetLife is hectic, especially when you run or manage a small business. Growing your small business is difficult, to say the least. Successful, easy growth is your goal, but how do you get there with all the distractions being thrown at you each and every day? It’s as though you’re speeding down the highway at 90 miles per hour, windows down, music blasting, kids screaming. Sounds fun, right? Hardly!

But what about all that scenery you took the trip just to see? It’s gone in a flash—it’s just a blur in your rear view mirror. That’s what running a business can sometimes feel like without the proper strategic intention.

So how do you take the time to stop and smell the symbolic roses, all while continuing your day-to-day tasks? How about having time to do the things you know you should be doing to grow and maintain your business? Simple!

Determine which of these four stages of business growth in which your company currently resides, then focus your efforts on the right business development activity.

  1. Core Business Development
  2. Expansion
  3. Professionally Managed Enterprise
  4. Organizational Maturity.

Each stage of growing your small business has common characteristics, growing pains, and a primary focus by which it is defined. In order to know what your specific goals should be, you first need to know and understand your business’s growth and development stage. Being aware of the obstacles each stage presents allows you to better prepare to overcome them – with the least amount of stress possible.

One of the most important things to remember about growing your small business is that your growth and development stage is not defined by how long you have been in business. Rather, it is defined by your revenue. This is one of the biggest mistakes business owners make when strategizing and planning for growth.

By misdefining your business’s growth and development stage, you run the risk focusing on the wrong activities. You go around in circles, rather than streamlining your activities to overcome the obstacles and leveraging the opportunities you’re actually facing in your current stage.

The first two growth stages are the times during which most business owners feel the highest amount of pressure and discouragement. They involve finding your niche, developing your products or services, getting your business up and running, learning to manage your resources, and creating functional operational systems. These steps set the tone for the rest of your business’s lifespan.

Feeling overwhelmed by the race in your business? Take action today and start reaping the benefits.