The Seven Ages of a Business
Starting a business is a lot like most moments in life – full of myriad experiences, emotions, and challenges. The unique aspect of the Seven Ages of a Business is that almost everyone involved from leadership to vendors to clients experience the ages similarly and at the same time.
Regardless of the type of business, the seven ages are similar along the way. The process can be cyclical, as well. Established businesses that go through a major overhaul or change can expect to reenter and experience the seven ages from the start.
Age One: Global Excitement
Excitement is common for a business just beginning or one experiencing a major facelift. This excitement can act in two ways: as a tool to propel everyone involved into a period of extreme efficiency or as a distraction from important tasks and realities.
The latter is what can lead to the next age. In any case, great business leaders harness the excitement and use it as a springboard forward into more challenging ages.
Age Two: Rapid Realization
This age can be short-lived if caught in time. This time represents a period of sudden understanding that things may not be as simple as the original excitement let on. This stage can be either traumatic or a good wakeup call for everyone involved.
A good leader will use this moment of painful realization to motivate the team to move forward with both the original excitement and the appropriate sobriety required to keep the business moving forward.
Age Three: Analysis
This age is vital for the progress of a business. While growth during this age may not be readily attainable, it is a time for evaluating processes and deciding on beneficial next steps.
The age of analysis should lead to a trove of information that benefits leaders by providing insight into what works and what does not.
Age Four: Coming of Age
The fourth age is where things really settle down for businesses. However, this should not lead to a sense of complacency. The next age will require a laser focus if it is to be reached.
As the business comes of age, the third age proves fruitful. Processes are perfected and systems run flawlessly with maximum efficiency.
Age Five: Growth
Expansion might be a better term for this age, depending on the type of business. In any case, this period can be tumultuous as the term “growing pains” often applies.
The business should look toward avenues of expansion like bigger teams, a larger client base, or new product lines. Obviously, errors in this age can be disheartening and downright determinantal to a business.
Age Six: Successes
Of course, the business should have been a success to even reach this age. However, this period marks the pinnacle of the process. Not only has the business been successful but it has navigated the rough seas of a trying growth period.
Leaders must beware of the pitfalls of this time, as others will be extremely interested in how the business made it to this point. Businesses can experience staff turnover as poaching occurs and could be faced with those looking to mimic or sink the operation.
Age Seven: Homeostasis
At this point, there are two paths a business might take: surviving and maintaining its success or intentional destruction. Many businesses simply cannot endure decades of existence, which is perfectly normal.
For those companies created with a lasting model, this age marks the last one until a major change comes about. This stage can be infinite if a company simply continues to survive on its proven processes and systems.