As humans, we go through different stages of life. There’s infancy, childhood, our teenage years, young adulthood, mature adulthood, and so on.
Our businesses go through life changes as well and just as your priorities changed as you grew up, your business priorities should change to match your business’s current stage of growth.
Have you outgrown your current priorities? Are you trying to skip ahead before you’ve had a chance to lay the foundations?
Here’s what you should focus on in each main stage of your business
Any structure needs a strong foundation or the whole thing will come crumbling down! When your business is in the early stages, it’s important to set up a strong base.
Purpose – Define your values, mission, and vision. Know your WHY and the overall purpose of your business and how that relates to your values.
Revenue – If you’re not making money, you don’t have a business, you have a hobby. You’ve heard that one before, right? How do you or how will you generate revenue? How will you become more visible to attract your audience?
Systems – This could mean tech systems, but this is basically how you run things. Figure out your client onboarding processes. Having project management software that will help you keep track of tasks.
- Website (at least reserve your domain name)
- Bookkeeping systems (you can start with an Excel spreadsheet or Google sheet)
- Email Service Provider (growing your list and regularly communicating with them is crucial)
- Social media channels (even if you don’t use them, make sure you lock them down so no one takes the name you want!)
- Project management system
Operations – Establish your processes early on so you don’t have to figure them out while you’re up and running! · Get your SOPs in place for all operations.
- Plan out client onboarding and offboarding processes... even if you’re doing it manually at this point
- Nail your billing process
Growth Stage: Scalability
This is a transition stage. Your business will start to grow and a more mature vision of your business will start to form. Be sure to revisit your mission, vision and values.
This is kind of like the awkward teenage years of your business, and there might be some growing pains! At this stage, you want to break through your income ceiling and extend your reach.
For that, you’ll need to get some help.
Outsourcing – This is the stage where you want to start building a team. Your business can’t grow or thrive if you’re doing everything yourself. You need to stay in a position where you can focus on the growth of the business, not bogged down in the day-to-day operations.
Start with bringing on a VA to help you with some admin tasks. You’ll want to at least start thinking about outsourcing and how to move forward. Create a list of things you would like to hand off prior to actually hiring someone.
Updating Systems – You might need to update your project management system to accommodate more people. I love Teamwork! It helps me (and my team) keep track of my business, all of our clients, deadlines and conversations. No more sorting through email trying to find what you’re looking for.
Scalable Products – In order to grow, you need a way to make money that doesn’t require your attention to every single sale. If your business has run on services or handmade products until now, you might want to think about creating a digital product or service that you can sell in unlimited quantities. This might mean ebooks, ecourses, an agency model, a membership site, or if you have physical products, mass production and wholesale.
Marketing – Now that you have scalability, you’ll want to step up your marketing so you can become more visible and start selling more! Now is the time to think about giving interviews, speaking engagements, guest posting, being a guest on podcasts, and expanding your reach on social media.
Established, Mature Business: Sustainability and Legacy
Once you have scalability and steady income, you can shift your focus and start building more freedom into your business.
Ultra-sustainability – You want your business to be able to run without you. This is the point when you want to outsource the management piece so you can fully step into your role as CEO.
You might be ready for an Online Business Manager or Director of Operations to take over management of day-to-day operations so you can focus on creating products and serving your wider audience. You might also just want to take more time for yourself at this point, and an OBM or DOO can help with that!
This blog post can help you figure out if you’re ready to create this role in your company.
Systems to sustain greater levels of scalability – At each stage of your business, you may need to update your systems. This might mean upgrading a system you already have or finding a completely different system.
You have more web traffic, a larger email list, and a larger team to manage. Make sure your systems can handle it! (An OBM or DOO can absolutely help you figure this out.)
Legacy – Now that you’re spending less time worrying about operations and wondering where the money is coming from, this is a good time to put some thought into the bigger picture of your mission.
Remember how we talked about mission and vision? Your vision has likely shifted and possibly your mission as well. This is a great time to update that and ask how you want this to play out. Perhaps you want to make philanthropy a bigger part of your business or make adjustments in other areas.
Your business is going to grow and change right along with you, so your priorities should change too! The trick is to embrace the changes that come with each stage of business and see them as opportunities.