When I started Egg, it felt like I’d be in the startup stage forever. It took months — if not years — to figure out my core offering, who I wanted to work with, and how to manage the day-to-day. But then it got easier, and I started coasting. I’d say now I’m looking for ways to succeed, not survive, so I’m in a good place with my company.
Recently, I read The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows that You Don’t, by Bill McBean. The book is a great blueprint for running a successful business, but one thing that stood out to me were the five levels every business goes through in its lifetime. According to McBean, these phases are:
- Ownership and opportunity
- Creating your company’s DNA
- From survival to success
- Maintaining success
- Moving on when it’s time to go
Like I said, I’d say I’m somewhere between phases 3 and 4. I’d like to dive into what each level looks at.
Ownership and Opportunity
This is often the most fun level, though the most stressful. At the start, you’re determining what opportunities you can create with your new business. What will you sell? Who will your customers be? Where will you find them? By no means do you have all the answers at this phase, and you’ll end up with more questions than solutions, but you’ll learn a tremendous lot.
Creating Your Company’s DNA
The idea of ‘business DNA’ has bee popularized in a few books recently. I like the idea of determining the type of business you’ll run through processes and protocols. This step, just like the first one, is absolutely essential for building a solid foundation for your business.
From Survival to Success
When I stopped worrying about having enough revenue to pay Egg’s (and my) bills, I knew I’d moved away from operating on a survival basis. If you’ve set up smooth processes and know the direction you want to take your business, this level should be a natural progression. If, however, you’re not getting there, you might need to move back a few steps to see if you’re really on target with where your business should be and what you should offer.
Once you’ve moved away from operating from a place of fear (fear of failing, fear of risk), you can take a look at your business and determine what else you can do to secure it. For me, that included recently filing my business as a corporation. At this stage, you can also look for new opportunities to help with your business’ success and growth.
Moving on When It’s Time to Go
At this stage, McBean says “owners finalize and implement their plans for winding down their careers, and if they’ve done it right, exit the business on their own terms with maximum payout.” For me, I don’t yet know what my exit strategy is. I genuinely love running Egg, and can’t see beyond doing so for the foreseeable future. And that’s fine for right now.
What about you? What stage would you say your business is in? Don’t forget to check out The Facts of Business Life.