Maintaining Your Growth Trajectory

We’ve all heard the statistics, right? Most businesses fail within the first five years. Still, every year entrepreneurs take a chance, quit their 9-5 jobs, or invest their life’s savings to become their own boss.

We do this because we want more freedom and control of our time; we believe we can run a business better than the boss; we want to be multi-millionaires and realize this won’t happen working for someone else.

The drive to succeed in business is not the problem. What causes many smart, talented business owners to fail is the lack of a plan or strategy for getting where they want to go. Timing is everything in business. To be successful, you need to build your business in the right order. The methodology that I use is measurable, systematic and created to move your business forward in the right sequence so results are more predictable and consistent.

As an entrepreneur myself, I have a tremendous amount of compassion for anyone bold enough to step out on faith and create something of value. Over the years, I’ve seen many promising entreprises collapse, and I’ve also seen companies on the verge of bankruptcy turn around and become healthy again.

With my clients, I developed a methodology called the 7 Stages of Small Business Success. By the way, my focus is on medium-size businesses too. The 7 stages are: strategic planning, specialty, synergy, systems, sustainability, salability, and succession.

When followed, the principles can take an otherwise struggling business from startup to 7 figures in 3 years or less. I know this because I’ve personally created 3 multi-million dollar businesses before I turned 40. I’ve also observed the successful launch, growth and turnaround of businesses in more than 35 countries on six continents over the past two decades.

Hearing this, you might be chompin’ at the bit, ready to get to stage one. But if you started there, you would be less likely to succeed. There is a pre-stage process you must engage in first.

If you try and put together a model airplane with several parts, without reading the instructions, you could end up stuck. So before you take off in the complex world of business, you need to understand more about yourself, your business, and your team.

You need to know where you are–not where you think you are or where you want to be–but where you are NOW.

Understand the Ever-Changing Markets

In this volatile market, you need to know the buying patterns of your customers. Many times, consumer emotions are linked to reports of unemployment, natural disasters or the fluctuating stock and real estate markets. This has a lot to do with consumer confidence and how likely they are to buy what you sell.

That’s why 7 Stage Advisors help clients develop strategies ahead of time–whether the market is going up, down or sideways. You need to know when the time is right to push upgrades, bundles or membership packages. There are specific strategies for each of these marketing conditions, based on studies of human behavior.

Even in these turbulent economic times, history shows someone will be able to embrace chaotic market conditions and profit tremendously. It might as well be you.

Understand the DISCoverY Process

The DISCoverY process helps Business Owners/Entrepreneurs (BOEs) discover their strengths and blind spots. This, in turn helps you identify what type of people you need on your team. It will also help you create a balance between your business and work life by showing you what to do (strengths) and what to delegate (weaknesses).

Understand the Growth Cycle

The Growth Cycle helps you achieve your desired objectives with the least effort.This happens when day-to-day activities are properly aligned with your overall vision. It positions you to do the right activities within the right sequence at the right time to maximize your potential.

The start-up or early stages of the cycle would be Stages 1-3 and the beginning of Stage 4, and occurs within the first 18 months. You’ll complete Stage 4 and move through Stages 5-7 during the second 18 months.

Within the Growth Cycle, you’re going to focus 90% of your energy toward your desired result and 10% to identify the challenges (opportunities). This approach will move you more quickly through the cycle.

By the way, you may not find it necessary to go through all 7 stages of the cycle to be successful. The succession or legacy stage may not be your goal. The Rolling Stones, for example are a Stage 2/3 business. They will be there forever because they cannot be franchised. There is only one Mick Jagger.

One final point: To succeed, you’ll need to flip the script in your thinking. Conventional wisdom says, build it first, then sell it. With 7 Stages, you sell your customers first, then create a business around them. This is what Ray Kroc, the McDonalds mastermind, did. He knew if people weren’t first sold on him, it made no sense to create a business.

Understanding yourself, your team, and your business are prerequisites for success. Get this right, then you’re ready to begin Stage 1.

Carl Gould writes about catalyzing and sustaining business growth.  He is an entrepreneur who built three multi-million dollar businesses by age 40, and his consulting firm has mentored the launch of over five thousand businesses in 35 countries. Each week he co-hosts “Quit and Get Rich” on iHeart® radio; and in his keynote speeches, he shares his insights from growing top companies from around the world. You can learn more about Carl and his firm at and