Whether you know it or not, your business-in-the-making (or established business) falls into a “business stage.” While your experience with setting up a business is going to be unique to you, these broad labels are meant to give some general definition to where you are in the business startup process so that you can better prioritize your efforts in identifying & satisfying your needs along the way. Moreover, many of the programs & services offered by the business resource organizations correlate with a business stage so that they can provide material & direction that is both relatable & applicable to the individuals in attendance.
You’ve got your business idea & are ready to take action. Here, feasibility studying & soul-searching go hand-in-hand as you assess just how viable your startup is likely to be. Consider your own abilities, the readiness of the market you wish to enter &, of course, the financial foundation upon which you plan to launch.
You are developing a business plan &, once that is in place, you are getting the word out to attract your first customers. Adaptability is key here as you will very quickly learn what aspects of your idea are (& aren’t) desirable, so be prepared to tweak your products/services along the way.
You are fully operating now with customers & income, employees (maybe) & competition (probably). The biggest challenge at this stage is dividing time between all of the demands requiring your attention – from growing the business & maintaining customer satisfaction to making hiring decisions & delegating work.
Business is more or less stable & you are now considering scaling into new markets, expanding your products/services offerings, or moving to a new office space or business location. This is a challenging period – there are no shortage of businesses who have been crippled by (or closed because of) choosing to expand too soon.
Your business is established & profitable. Perhaps it's time to expand even further – either by acquiring competitors or hiring a CEO to run the business – or to plan your exit by selling the business (or your stake in it) & getting started on the next idea.
* Business lifecycle terms adapted from Entrepreneur.com