Hello SOTGC community,
Welcome back to my series The 6 Stages of a Woman’s E-Ship Journey. Today Patti Fletcher and I discuss Stage 4: Growth.
Stage 1: Opportunity Discovery (I’ve got a great idea!)
Stage 2: Commercialization (I’m validating and pivoting my idea)
Stage 3: Startup (my idea is now ready for startup)
Stage 4: Growth (startup going well. I’m ready to grow my business)
Stage 5: Exit (time to Exit this business and start my next big thing)
Stage 6: Leadership (what’s my next big thing?)
Heather Boggini: Patti, we are half way through our series on the 6 stages a woman experiences on her entrepreneurship journey. We are onto Stage 4: Growth, which implies she has made progress! She’s got an idea that has traction, has a product, and is selling it! And she moves into Growth.
Let’s get started with a description of “growth.” Growth of what? Revenue, profits, sales, employees, equity? What are talking about here?
Patti Fletcher: All of the above. The growth stage involves a lot of quantitative and qualitative measurements to determine how well the team is doing on meeting goals within specific periods of time. Adjustments to strategy, infrastructure, people, and budgets will be needed as the business grows and goals are met or missed.
The constructs in place to manage growth are metrics called KPIs (key performance indicators) and KRIs (key risks indicators). These metrics are how you, as a leader in your business, will be judged. People, processes, and technology are put into place to manage the business in the typical functions of human resources, marketing, sales, product development, product management, finance, operations, information technology, etc.
Boggini: Growth sounds exciting but also intimidating. What are the danger spots here to look out for?
Fletcher: Growing too quickly without a plan or not growing fast enough. In both cases, no plan or a rigid plan without risks, mitigations, succession and contingency plans are dangerous. Every operational decision you make in business comes with risk. Your job is to have controls.
Another key ingredient of this phase, which would have been discussed and thought through in the previous stage if external funding was sought and secured, is a clear end-game. Working backward from an IPO or acquisition for externally funded businesses or another growth phase is critical.
Boggini: That’s the business piece you just described. What about the founder – what should she be thinking about right now?
Fletcher: She should be thinking about leadership already. Not every founder turned CEO is the right fit to be CEO of a growth-phase company.
Take a hard look at yourself, and ask these questions:
- Do you have the right leadership skills to take your business through the growth stage?
- Can you grow with your business or are you bored with the more operational components of business?
- What is your personal exit strategy?
Boggini: It seems a little counterintuitive to think about exiting, or leaving, your business just we are discussing growing that same business.
Fletcher: Yes, you need to think about your exit, even as you grow your business. Even if you want to lead your business forever. The point is, you have to always be thinking of your next move.
Women tend to think of what is right in front of them. We are pragmatic. We get things done and we make right decisions. We think strategically about our businesses, but not necessarily about our own long-term roles. Start thinking about those big questions and ensure that you are taking steps to invest in your long-term goals.
And, make sure you have a solid relationship with your board. Their job is to coach and support you through your business’s strategic decisions. Use that knowledge for yourself and for your business.
Boggini: What are the typical milestones every business must achieve at this stage? And once they are achieved is she ready to move on to Stage 5: Exit?
Fletcher: The typical milestones are completely dependent on your business’s unique business plan goals. The goals include metrics around revenue, product roadmap milestones, market share/capture, and customer acquisition. Depending on the type of company, there may also be brand equity, technology, market, and geographic expansion targets and process goals.
Boggini: Although we are talking about a 6-stage experience, the stages are not necessarily a linear experience. What does that imply for the Growth stage?
Fletcher: As you grow your business, you will be executing on your product or service expansion roadmap. You will no doubt make changes to your roadmap based on market changes, core competencies, lessons learned. Any major changes will require you to revisit earlier stages for ideation, commercialization questions, additional funding, etc.
In terms of progressing into (an exit is the only way a VC or Angel will make money from you). If you are funding your own business or have relied on family and friends and you do not want to change from a privately owned firm, you can skip Stage 5 and start working on your next big move (Stage 6).
Boggini: Thank you Patti and next time we’ll talk about Stage 5: Exit.
Are you ready to get going on your start up plan? Please Tweet this post if it inspired you to get moving toward your dream business. Reach out to the author Heather Boggini at @hsboggini, to Patti Fletcher at @pkfletcher, and to their blogs at PSDNetwork, LLC.