Understanding the 5 Stages of Business
This article is going to give you a clarity that I find is missing for a lot of people in their first few years in business – certainly for me those first few years felt like navigating from inside a bank of fog. Even when things were “working” I often didn’t know why, or know what I was supposed to do next from there.
Far too often I see people like you (and me too) starting a business full of passion and enthusiasm but very soon the act of needing to market and run the business comes to feel harder than you ever expected, and can even make you start to question your decision to do this in the first place.
So the fact you’r reading this blog tells me you’re probably in one of two camps…
- You’re just starting out in your business, you’re passionate about it and know you are meant to be sharing your talents and helping more people, and you want to make sure you set yourself up for success from the very start.
- You’ve been in business for a while and you’re not loving it as much as you thought you would. You’re looking for an easier – more fun – way of doing things. Surely it’s not supposed to be this hard?
I’ve been in BOTH of these places in the past, but I’m now in a position where I have a business I love that feels true and authentic to me. But it took me a while to get there because for the longest time I didn’t know some of the things I’ll be talking about in this post.
Which Stage of Business are You?
In this blog I’ll be sharing the 5 stages of business that business owners typically go through. These make up the Business from the Heart Pathway that sits at the core of my business membership.
I find that once my members work out which stage they are in, they start to understand why they’ve been finding things so tough.
And just that understanding alone means that things start to feel a whole lot easier.
THE 5 STAGES OF BUSINESS ARE:
- STAGE 1: TALENTS INTO MONEY
Aim: To “prove your concept” by selling your first few packages or programmes.
- STAGE 2: GOOD TO GROW
Aim: To develop an online presence to support your long-term plan and start attracting clients online (but only if you choose to be online – it’s not the holy grail).
- STAGE 3: FINDING YOUR FLOW
Aim: To be hitting your financial target consistently each month, even if it’s that’s not yet through your ideal business model.
- STAGE 4: IT’S WORKING!
Aim: A shift in focus away from immediate income to long-term strategies and activity, a move to “leveraged” (one-many) sales, marketing and delivery, and creating your ideal business model
- STAGE 5: GOING FOR GOLD
Aim: A fully scalable business model you can grow without investing more of your own time & energy.
STAGE 1: TALENTS INTO MONEY
Most of us come into business with no contacts, no track record and a very small budget and have to get things going from a standing start. And no, it’s not easy, but you will move past this stage.
The aim of Stage 1 is simple – get your first 2 paying clients into your programme or service and start building your confidence.
The process of doing that will help you clarify your message and communication, and help you learn how to attract and enrol paying clients.
Much of this stage is “testing and research” which is why things don’t work appear to work immediately – but the work you put in now will pay dividends over the course of your business.
One of the hardest things about this stage is you are the least confident you will ever be, right when you need the most confidence to get things off the ground.
STAGE 2: GOOD TO GROW
Once you’ve “proved your concept” by getting your first two paying clients, and you know that people want what you are offering, and you know how to sell it, you are ready to move to Stage 2.
This is all about creating your online presence and starting to attract people online. Depending on your long-term vision you will have more, or less, of an online presence. You might want a fully online business you can run from anywhere in the world, or a business built on offline connections where most of your work is delivered in person – most people fall somewhere in between.
Beware moving to Stage 2 too early – you’ll waste a lot time online with nothing to show for it if you haven’t got the foundations in place from Stage 1.
STAGE 3: FINDING YOUR FLOW
While Stage 1 and 2 can feel tough, Stage 3 is actually where you’re most likely to give up because you start thinking “It should be easier than this!”
In this stage you are enrolling clients regularly, so something is working, but it doesn’t always feel like it.
It doesn’t feel predictable, your income is hit and miss, you have way too much to juggle – client delivery, marketing, sales, accounts, admin. How can one person possibly do it all? You feel constantly on the edge of burnout and are questioning what you are doing because you can tell this isn’t sustainable for you over the long term.
In reality you are closer than you think.
You simply haven’t yet got a big enough reach or “audience” so there’s still that constant feeling of hustle.
And you haven’t yet found that “sweet spot” around your marketing and your delivery for it to feel easy.
But the good news is this is just another stage on the journey – you will soon break through into Stage 4, I promise!
STAGE 4: IT’S WORKING!
In Stage 4 you’ve broken through the pain of Stage 3. You are hitting your income goals consistently, and you know exactly what you need to do to bring on paying clients. Woohoo!
In other words you can finally breathe and trust that your business is going to support you.
To get to this stage you will have built a community, following or network, and established your credibility as an expert. You also know how to sell your services – you know what to say and how to present your work for people to take notice of you and then feel inspired to buy from you. These things mean you are now well positioned to move to more “leveraged” ways of working through things like group programmes, memberships, selling from webinars and launches, or taking on associates or team members to deliver for you.
But only if you want to – not everyone does, and that’s OK too. You might just want to take your mostly offline 121 business working smoothly, predictably and sustainably so that you are taking bookings a couple of months in advance, or have a permanent waiting list.
STAGE 5: GOING FOR GOLD
Not everyone will want to go to Stage 5. Personally this has always been my goal and I’m in Stage 5. But a lot of people who I mentor to grow their business don’t want to. This is about creating a fully leveraged and scalable business that can continue to grow without you putting a lot more of your own time and energy in – you do this through team, systems and automation.
It can sound really exciting, but it adds a whole extra layer of complexity, moving parts and people to manage, which is why it’s important you move to this stage at the right time, and is why it’s not for everyone. And like I said, that’s OK.
The only person who knows what the perfect business is for you is YOU – now who would have thought it!
THE EARLY STAGES ARE THE HARDEST
The early Stages (Stages 1, 2 and 3) is when it feels hardest.
In Stage 1 and 2 you can easily spend 80% of your time doing work to attract new clients – and you might doubt if it’s really “for you.”
After all you didn’t start your business because you wanted to be a full- time marketer!
And you can find it hard fielding all those well-meaning questions from family, friends and business contacts about how your business is going – it’s easy to feel like a fraud.
Then in Stage 3 it feels like it’s working on the surface but you can doubt yourself for other reasons.
Now you are getting clients regularly but it feels harder than you ever imagined and it’s easy to think that this isn’t what you signed up for. I find that just understanding that going through this more painful stage is a normal part of the journey of growing a business (we ALL go through it), can make it feel easier and remove some of the doubt you might be feeling.
People in my membership tell me that it’s when they truly understand this that they finally give themselves permission to actually enjoy their business, and enjoy the journey, even if they are not “there” yet.
MISTAKES TO WATCH OUT FOR
There are three common mistakes I see people making during these early stages that makes it the process of building a business harder than it needs to be.
- Following advanced business strategies before you are ready, then feeling crushed and deflated when they don’t work for you. It’s not you, you just tried it at the wrong time!
- Comparing yourself to people who’ve been in business a lot longer than you, and also have very different life circumstances, and feeling like a failure and getting demotivated.
- Doing a lot of marketing activity before getting the basics in place to make that marketing actually work, then burning out on too much scattered activity – like throwing spaghetti at the wall and just hoping that something will stick! – with not enough to show for all that effort.
The good news is that with this understanding of the different Stages there are to a business journey, you can more easily make the right decisions for you based on where you are and where you are aiming for.
You will also be kinder to yourself (and so be able to actually enjoy growing your business) because you understand that you can only take action from where you are right now – instead of feeling frustrated because you can’t do the equivalent of winning the Grand Prix when you are still taking driving lessons in your Mum’s mini cooper!
BUSINESS FROM THE HEART Membership – Opening Soon!
I love supporting small business owners with all the things I’ve talked about in this post. The main way I do this is through the Business from the Heart Membership.
This is a thriving community of heart-centred business owners, all committed to making a difference and growing a great business – without compromising their values. It includes mentoring and advice from me through regular coaching calls and hotseats, a library of trainings to help you keep taking action, mindset mentoring sessions, implementation days and online meetups and masterminds. We’d love to have you join us!
The membership will next be opening for enrolment from 10th – 14th May
Click here to be notified.
With Love & Gratitude,