Small Business Development: Goals to Aim For
Small Business Development: Goals to Aim For

It’s no wonder that small business owners are exceptionally possessive and sometimes obsessive over their businesses. After all, they are just like their children, with birth, growth, and maturity - every business must go through stages of development and knowing the stages and where your business may be on a developmental level will help you make your business its best.


Many experts believe there are seven stages in a business’ life cycle, and knowing what these are enable you to set achievable goals at every developmental stage.


  1. 1 - Seed


    Technically at this stage, your business is non-existent: it’s just an idea. The challenge now is to discover a niche in the market into which your idea and your particular skill set can fit.


    - Research your target market;

    - Decide on the ownership composition;

    - Construct a detailed business plan; 

    - Find advisers and sources of capital; and

    - Do necessary registrations.


  2. 2 - Start-Up


    By now you are registered with the authorities and have already sold your product or service to a few customers. Challenges are likely to include a quickly-dwindling cash supply or the discovery that while your offering is something your clients require, they may need something in addition to it.


    - Establish a customer base;

    - Establish a presence in your target market;

    - Track expenditure and cash flow; and

    - Update your service offering according to your market’s requirements.


  3. 3 - Growth


    Your hard work begins pay off in the form of rising numbers of customers, greater profits, and market recognition. However, your growth stage also introduces you to competitors and new problems that need your time and money. You may have to update your business plan if you are growing faster than expected.


    - Set up more advanced account management systems;

    - Improve management skills;

    - Update your financial plan; and

    - Hire more employees.


  4. 4 - Established


    Your company is flourishing after gaining a foothold in your market and a legion of loyal customers. You are managing the cash flow expertly and have become accustomed to the routines of business. However, while you may be tempted to sit back and relax after all your hard work, this is the most important stage at which to remain motivated. Remember the marketplace has no mercy and you need to keep a close eye on your customers’ requirements, the market, and even the economy.


    - Improve your offering or service;

    - Improve your company’s efficiency;

    - Maintain and improve your productivity; and

    - Begin to automate and outsource some aspects of your business.


  5. 5 - Expansion


    Reaching this stage is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for many entrepreneurs. You have the opportunity to grow into new markets, offer new products or services, and perhaps even open another branch. However, remember that successful expansion requires more planning than you undertook in the seed stage.


    - Search for a complementary arena into which to expand;

    - Plan, plan, plan;

    - Add new products or services by collaborating with partners; and

    - Attract a new market and new customers by expanding into a new area.


  6. 6 - Maturity


    At the maturity of your small business, your profits and sales are stable. However, this stage often has the highest capital requirements as, when your sales begin to peter out, you must consider making an acquisition to improve sales. You may also consider an exit strategy involving selling the company.


    - Search for new opportunities, ventures, or partners;

    - Find a peer from whom you can gain valuable advice and support; and

    - Cut costs to level out your cash flow and prevent losses.


  7. 7 - Exit


You can either sell your company for a profit or shut it down entirely. If you wish to sell, you need to do a realistic evaluation of its value in the current market place - you may have to prepare for some disappointment. If you’re looking at closing down, you may have to deal with financial losses and possibly psychological concerns.


- Make your company worth more to a potential buyer;

- Get a professional valuation; and

- Set up legal agreements and a business transition plan.