[caption id="attachment_18871" align="alignleft" width="108" caption="Nigel Hartley"][/caption]
What have your feelings got to do with the success of your business?
As it turns out, a lot. All businesses pass through a natural business lifecycle. The journey is not based on revenue, profit or staff numbers but rather the feelings the business experiences.
All businesses, from sole proprietors to corporate boards, are run by people, and people are impacted by their feelings. Especially in small business, the feelings of the owner have an impact on daily communication and decision-making.
This journey is not time scaled. Each business will travel along its lifecycle at a different rate. Some may complete the whole lifecycle in a few years. Others may take decades.
Shirlaws has a framework that addresses this and we call it "Stages.” Stages is a feeling model and feelings can be difficult to measure. You might not recognize all the stages, either because you haven't experienced them yet, or in your business you passed through that stage very quickly and it didn't register.
Stages also applies to the journey employees take within your business- which means that at any point in time, a business will have different people at different points along the journey.
As you follow along this process I suggest you track your own personal business journey. Remember how you felt and reacted at each stage and if you are only part way through your journey apply this to your business.
Now let's break it down into the five stages Start-Up, Growth, Advanced Growth, Plateau and Decline
So when you started a business, how did you feel on the first day or week of your new venture? Excited? Yes of course or you wouldn't have got the energy to get started.
After the initial surge of excitement how else did you feel? Perhaps a little scared or apprehensive too? These emotions are our primary motivators and impart us with great energy. This causes a period of frantic energy, where we are responsible for the numerous, and many urgent, elements that need to be done all at once to start a new business venture.
When entrepreneurs approach me in that stage I tell them not to worry, but come back in six months if they still feel that way. More normally what happens is that the anxiety eases and you become more confident. You have moved into the First Brick Wall.
Brick Walls are transitions states in businesses. The First Brick Wall is the transition stage between Start Up and Growth, a transition that requires investment. It may be as simple as moving out of the garage or buying a copier but you invest in the business and you feel you have a purpose and direction. Not doing this or investing poorly will result in plateau and then decline, which is why so many businesses fail to get off the ground.
Now you move into the Growth phase and you start to see a return on your investments. This modest success creates a feeling described by most businesses as good times. The feeling is relaxed: you aren't overstretched; you are making a reasonable living and enjoying the experience. Businesses stay in Good Times by continuing to reinvest in business growth, creating momentum and further growth in the business.