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The life cycle of business, and how to maneuver through each step

The life cycle of business, and how to maneuver through each step

Hello, it's been a while since I last put my thoughts on paper to share with you and I can honestly say, I have missed doing this.

Amazing things are happening here at Echrise, and yes, it is pronounced as ekrise, my Software Company. Great things and not great things and this led me to do extensive research about a typical business cycle. The life cycle of every business, and how to maneuver through each step

Granted, not all business are the same, each business has it's set of challenges, operates differently, however, these four stages, every business goes through. The purpose of this article is, in a way to bring clarity in your journey of running a business or brand.

If you find this post helpful, leave a comment of your thoughts in the comment section down below, it helps me structure my work better to handle your concerns.

#1 Start-Up

The Start-up phase is exciting. There’s no doubt! The project that’s been a dream for so long is becoming a reality, you’re constantly trying new ideas, meeting people, trying to sell your product or service in new ways. However, with wearing multiple hats (handling multiple responsibilities ) and the inevitable tight cash flow of the start-up phase there is a real risk of burn out in this period.
This is the stage where most businesses fail. It really is the “make-it-or-break-it” stage.

The common challenges of this stage are:
1: Limited money and resources
2: Poor management of cash flow
3: Pricing of products or services too high or too low
4: Not having a realistic budget
5: Not yet having established processes and operations in place. This is a period of ‘trial and error’.

Key strategies:
1: Devote most of your time to growing your business and establishing yourself in the marketplace
2: Work out a business model that will provide sustainable cash flow and continued growth
3: Carefully manage your finances

#2 Growth

This is an exciting stage as your business starts to take off with more clients, cash coming in and growth. However, things can go sideways quickly if the systems you have in place can’t keep up with the sudden increase in demand. So the focus of this stage is on how the business is run and developing organized systems to help it run smoothly.
There are often increased expenses so money might still be tight and often companies need to find external financing at this stage however my take would be to quickly figure out your customer acquisition cost and set aside a budget for it early on to have a reliable cash flow.

The key challenges of this stage to be aware of are:
1: Tight cash flow - one of the key goals of this stage is to increase cash flow and maintain profitability
2: Demand is greater than supply(this is a very good thing if you play your cards right)
3: Systems can become overwhelmed
4: Developing systems to support current and future growth

Key strategies:
1: Have a good budget in place and manage cash flow carefully
2: Consider the need for additional resources and outsource if necessary. Start to build up your team
3: Strengthen your relationships with clients and build brand equity
4: Develop strong systems and processes to allow your business to run efficiently

#3 Expansion/Maintenance

Finally, you seem to have your operations sorted and things are running more smoothly. You will feel more secure in the business and you might start to think about expanding the business or even selling it. Expanding into other markets will help you diversify and can help sell the business by proving it is in demand in a range of markets. It is important to have your financial records up to date so that you can show potential buyers or investors. Alternatively, you may be happy with where the business is at and choose to maintain it at this level for a longer period.

Potential challenges at this stage include:
1: The demands and responsibilities of having more staff and a bigger operation
2: Sticking to set budgets which can be particularly difficult during expansion
3: Inefficiencies in existing systems
4: Poor planning and execution

Key strategies:
1: Hire help if you need or outsource some responsibilities
2: Make sure you understand your finances and have a reliable budget in place
3: Explore opportunities for expansion
4: Focus on gaining and keeping market share

#4 Maturity

In this stage, there is much less rapid growth and change but with this comes greater responsibilities related to having more staff, more expenses, etc. There is likely to be less flexibility as well compared to the early days.

Common challenges of this stage:
1: Staffing – hiring and retaining good staff
2: Less flexibility
3: Stagnation and failure to innovate and implement change leading to decreased sales
4: Loss of entrepreneurial spirit
5: Greater operational challenges

Key strategies:
1: Focus on workplace culture and keeping your employees motivated
2: Review finances and system inefficiencies that could be affecting profits (an Operational CFO can help with this)
3: Review operations and systems and update as needed to keep your business running efficiently and at the forefront of your industry.

So, which phase is your business, what challenges are you currently facing and how do you intend to solve them?
Let me know in the comment section below.