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The Search for Small Business Growth Continues

The Search for Small Business Growth Continues

In a previous post, So You Want to Grow Your Business?, I shared some of my general findings in recent research I have conducted in small business growth models.  While many of the models and writings came in many different shapes and sizes, they all had certain very similar characteristics.  This is very good, as I do not need to spend a lot of time defending any specific point of view. I can get down to the business at hand – helping simplify your small business growth!

After reviewing dozens of websites I settled on 5 or 6 sites that present some well thought out approaches to your small business growth.  I compiled all these models and approaches into a single comparative table to begin my analysis.  See the results of this comparison table by downloading our Small Business Growth Matrix on the DE, Inc. website.

As I stated in my previous post, I found models with 3, 5, and 7 stages.  What was the right number of stages for small businesses growth?  Reading the characteristics of each stage I found they all sort of hit the same points, it’s just one author decided to draw their line in one place while another decided to draw their line somewhere else.

To me, the most significant approach is from a Harvard Business Review whitepaper entitled The Five Stages of Business Growth by Neil C. Churchill and Virginia L. Lewis.  My rationale is that this approach is based on statistical research and has already been accepted by one of the premier business schools in the world.  Taking this as a basis for my writing provides the credibility readers want to feel confident that following this formula will provide results.  Based on the Churchill & Lewis model I settled on the following 5 stages:

    1. Existence
    2. Survival
    3. Success
    4. Rapid Growth
    5. Maturity

The only change I made to the Churchill & Lewis stages was renaming stage 4 to Rapid Growth.  I believe this title better personifies what is really happening within this stage than the “Take-off” title given by Churchill & Lewis’  In my a future post I will provide general descriptions for each of the stages.

Because each model had its strengths and weaknesses, I next distilled all the models down into a set of specific characteristics I believe provide a more simplified way to read, understand, and begin to classify your small business growth.  Here are the characteristics within each stage I will present in future posts:

  • Description
  • Stage Goal
  • Stage Objectives
  • Stage Challenges/Risks

Owner Growth Factors:

  • Owner Goals
  • Operational Abilities
  • Managerial Abilities
  • Strategic Abilities

Company Growth Factors:

  • Financial Resources
  • Personnel Resources
  • System Resources
  • Business Resources

My most significant finding came from the Churchill & Lewis paper where they present the fact that both owner and company factors are critical to a business’ growth.  This wasn’t a new revelation, but instead a validation of something we have always promoted at DE, Inc., that ownership must make changes in themselves in order for their business to grow (see the posts Are You Holding Back Your Business? and The Barrier to Achieving Success).  This is why our tagline is “Personal Growth, Business Leadership, Life Success.”  By committing to focus on your small business growth, you must first commit to growth within yourself both personally and professional.  Then and only then are your ability to grow your business not just left to chance.

Here is a great opportunity for those that have moved through the early stages of business growth can help those that are currently searching for the answer.  The “magic bullet” is personal growth.  What happened to provide you with your “ah ha moment” that allowed you to push past the status quo and create the changes in you personally so you were able to grow your small business?



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