“It’s so much harder to start a business
than it is to improve an existing one.
Owners don’t realize how quickly they
can turn it around.”
forward: first to structuring and then to
the end game.
Introduction –
As businesses move
into this phase, dreaming and designing
must begin to accommodate customer
desires, quality of the offerings, and the
hunt for essential resources.
• Qualifications: This phase involves
commitments to building a supply
chain to assure timely delivery: shep-
herding financial and non-financial as-
sets; and meeting the requirements of
an investor or bank. Internal focus must
be tempered by external complexities;
• Vision vs. Reality: Passion and dreams
must marry commercial realities. As the
budding enterprise begins to engage
the right talent, it can’t settle for talent
that’s “good enough for now.” The
owner-entrepreneur needs to select
leaders who are right for what the busi-
ness is but also for what it can be. In
their expertise, the right leaders will, in
some respect, be better than the owner
– and will complement and extend the
owner’s skills and experience, and
challenge the enterprise.
Progression –
In the origin and intro-
duction stages, much of the entrepre-
neur’s focus was on the tactics to get the
business off the ground. But keeping it
aloft requires focus on the longer term.
• Planned execution: Guide by planning;
• Re-evaluation: Prized styles, products
or services will need to be re-evaluated
to stay ahead of emerging expectations
and competition;
• Major Tests: The limits of the founder’s
expertise will be tested;
• Observation: During Progression, a
business leadership team should begin
to emerge. In addition to their business
acumen, they must also fit the owner’s
personality, with the culture they want
to build, and with the chemistry of the
other key players to be retained. The
positive impact of a cohesive team,
compared to a collection of individuals,
is stunning.
Maturity –
The enterprise will now have
to be led through a somewhat slower
growth rate while the pace of change and
challenge will not let up, while the lead-
ership will embrace the right new operat-
ing and market opportunities, and
manage unexpected cost shifts.
• Need: A guard against complacency,
arrogance or commoditization will help
lead to continued success;
• Want: Leaders with a capacity to pur-
sue and embrace new markets, cus-
tomers, products, styles and tech-
nologies remain critical;
• Observation: The maturity stage is the
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