The Seven Stages of Entrepreneurial Growth
“To really hit the ball out of the park, entrepreneurs need to create the conditions, or the organizational climate, that produces a growth curve enterprise, a profit-driven, people-centered, growth smart company.” James Fischer, Navigating the Growth Curve.
Fischer’s research discovered 4 key findings that every small and mid-market company should know about growth and the challenges along the way:
1) Complexity is about employees, not revenue. Money and processes are easy to manage compared to the dynamic impact that people bring to the table. Although the “People” challenge shows up as the number one focus at different stages along the way, at one point delegation skills become critical while later the focus shifts to employee engagement and creating buy-in to the vision.
2) Each stage of growth has five overriding challenges. Understanding the different challenges at each of the 7 Stages will help you to prioritize and focus your activities. There are a total of 27 challenges that companies face along the growth path, different issues at different stages. A warning – if the executive team doesn’t deal proactively with the challenges of each stage as the company grows, they just add up as the company adds people. In other words, challenges don’t go away. They just come back to haunt you.
3) Know what “Chaos Zone” is approaching and prepare. The 7 Stages model will also tell you when you’re facing a significant transition period that will require increased attention. Fischer calls these “Chaos Zones”, aptly named Flood Zones and Wind Tunnels.
Expect a level of confusion at these “Chaos Zones” as leadership and employees adjust to either increased levels of work (Flood Zone transitions) OR the need to revamp and revise methodologies, processes and procedures that no longer work and acquire new ones that will support growth (Wind Tunnel transitions). Either way, each of these “Chaos Zones” need to be managed proactively or they will cripple the business.
4) Different Leadership “Rules” exist for each stage of growth. Growth isn’t just about dealing with challenges and knowing when to change your focus. Leadership styles, for both the CEO and the management team also need to change as a business grows in employees and complexity. What’s appropriate for a “ramp up” CEO who needs to be a coach – won’t fly later as a company passes the 160 employee mark when a more visionary approach is required.
Managing the Complexity of Growth is Step Five in the Nine-Step, Business Growth Accelerator Roadmap process.
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