The Stages of Small Business Success

by | Jun 22, 2018

In my last post, I explained why we consider $1M+ businesses to be ‘Elite’. Now I want to zoom out with you and share something we call the Stages of Small Business Success.

It has been my experience that this infographic resonates powerfully with business owners who have grown through some or all of these stages. More importantly than it accurately describing your journey thus far, is that the infographic outlines the most common hurdle you must clear in order to grow to the next stage.

The original research for this infographic was done by my good friend, Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft. He was completely dissatisfied with the lack of clarity in different circles regarding the definition of “small business” or “SMB”.

Many government entities, would-be vendors and partners, and market analysts all claimed to be talking to and about the same group of businesses when they used the term “small business”. However, the reality is that the circumstances and needs of the many Stages of Small Business vary so widely, that product and service offerings as well as government programs and legislation aimed at serving small business often miss the mark wildly.

To make the point further, a common definition of small business or ‘SMB’ includes all businesses with 1-500 employees. Clearly, a 10-person company is vastly different from a 100-person company (or even a 30-person company, for that matter). There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to serving the various stages of small business.

Clate literally spent dozens of hours pouring over U.S. Census Bureau data and combined that knowledge with everything he learned over a decade at Infusionsoft serving tens of thousands of small businesses.

What he discovered and subsequently articulated more clearly than anything else I’ve come across is that the distinct Stages of Small Business Success have unique characteristics and needs. The patterns outlined in this infographic have been validated over and over again by small businesses from a wide variety of businesses.

Clate’s original work identified Seven Stages of Small Business Success that articulated the journey to 500 employees and $100M in revenue. However, due to the fact that Infusionsoft really only serves companies up to Stage 5, the infographic was simplified to show only the first 5 Stages.

Every business goes through predictable growth stages with similar obstacles. It’s important to remember you can have success at any of the Stages. Understanding your stage of business can give you vital clues IF you want to grow.

You don’t have to keep growing if you are content with where you are. The goal here is to help you articulate which stage your business is in and identify the biggest hurdle for growing to the next Stage. This framing helps you make intentional decisions about where you want to be in the future.

Do you know the biggest hurdle to growing your business? Do you even want to grow your business to the next stage?

You can download the Stages of Small Business Success here and, as a bonus, we will give you access to a video of Clate teaching about the Stages of Small Business Success.

What you’ve probably experienced by now is that what got you to where you are now won’t get you to the next Stage. If you’ve created a Stage 4 or Stage 5 business and want to grow, you’re in the right place. Elite Entrepreneurs is dedicated to helping Stage 4 and Stage 5 businesses grow to the next stage.

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you and your Stage 4 or Stage 5 business, check out our programs page or apply here.

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