How To Identify the Stage of Small Business Growth You’re In

April 14, 2023

Starting a business happens quickly in some cases and takes place over several years in others. Think about the level of planning you put into your small business and how long you dreamed about it before taking the leap.

While it might not seem like that’s technically a stage of small business growth, it truly is.

No matter how long you’ve been in business or if you aren’t quite ready to put your plans in motion, there’s a stage of small business growth that describes your situation.

Keep reading to identify which of the 7 stages of small business growth you’re in!

The 7 Stages of Small Business Growth

1. Dreaming

At this stage, you haven’t made any concrete plans to go into business yet, but you’re thinking about it a lot. You’re starting to take notice of commercial real estate in your area that would be perfect for the type of business you’re imagining. You’ve probably done a lot of general research on the industry you’re thinking about.

If you’re in the dreaming stage and have been for a while, you might be ready to move into the planning stage and start getting things done.

2. Planning

When you’re in the planning stage, your small business idea is still very appealing to you, but instead of focusing on how great the idea would be in theory, you’re actively pursuing it and creating it. The planning stage is full of heavy-duty research, lots of paperwork, the need for a lot of capital, and many sleepless nights. While the original excitement of your idea might be wearing off in the planning stage, it’s due to your diligence in planning and keeping things organized while getting your business off the ground.

Things aren’t this hectic forever, so be strong and keep moving forward!

3. Doing

In the doing stage, you’re open for business and making a little money. You’ve realized that some of your ideas turned out to be incorrect (something that happens throughout a business owner’s life). You begin to concentrate on building a routine that works and handling most of the tasks yourself. If you have trustworthy help (family members have helped many businesses get off the ground), this stage is a lot easier.

Either way, the doing stage is when you’re really building your skill set and learning a lot about your industry and business in general.

4. Growing

The growing stage is in full effect when you realize your income has risen past what you think is normal. Suddenly, the numbers seem to be in your favor and new customers are landing in your lap daily. You’re hiring new employees to help you manage the growth. You can tell your business is growing, and it’s one of the most exciting stages of small business growth. It’s really important to closely monitor your business during the growing stage.

You haven’t run your business at this capacity before, so you want to watch closely and ensure you can serve all your customers with the same level of service and attention you provided when you were serving half the number of customers.

5. Fixing

Right after the growing stage is the fixing stage. Growth doesn’t break a business, but it does reveal weak spots that must be reinforced or replaced in order to keep working toward success. The fixing stage is a necessary stage of small business growth because it teaches business owners that adaptation is necessary, and that to achieve better results than before, you have to do something different than before.

In the fixing stage, you’re doing a lot of optimization and testing to ensure you’re giving your business the best possible chance to succeed. You might be thinking about changing up your staff a bit or hiring new managers to take over parts of your business that you can no longer oversee or simply don’t have enough experience to lead.

6. Shifting

The shifting stage doesn’t happen to every small business. When you’ve come through the fixing stage and fail to see any noticeable results from changing your efforts, sometimes, you shift your business perspective and mission entirely. You might also hear this stage described as pivoting.

It’s never a bad business decision to change your company’s focus and begin targeting a different market, offering a different product, or change the company name if the current results are consistently unsatisfactory and nothing seems to change them.

7. Thriving

You’ll know when you’re in the thriving stage. At this stage, you’ve tapped into your target audience and connected with key influencers, people recognize your company name either locally or online, you get great reviews and benefit from word of mouth marketing, and your profits are predictable and slowly rising. Your business is thriving.

This is the stage where business owners typically decide they want to continue on as President or another less hands-on position, sell the company, or stay on as an involved business owner.