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While all small businesses will vary widely in terms of their size, organizational structures, management styles, and capacity for growth, there is a universal developmental framework when it comes to business growth that can be applied in the majority of cases. This can help small businesses to prepare for, and successfully navigate, problems and challenges that consistently crop-up at certain points within this framework.

Stage One: Development

Creating an in-depth business plan is a key part of this stage: statistics shows that small businesses that have a business plan in place from the beginning are twice as likely to succeed as those that don’t.

A business plan should detail how the business’s concepts, products and services meet an unmet market need, determine how well accepted the business’s proposition will be on the market, and identify the overall ideal outcome.

Stage Two: Start-Up

Fintech entrepreneurs like Michael Zetser, who has many years of experience working within the payments sector, know there are a few key things that a business should focus on during this stage. These include establishing a market presence and customer base, finding the best way to manage accounts, and establishing how funding is sourced and allocated.

Stage Three: Growth

As a small business grows, its aims should be to identify its market differentiators and what is driving profits. With this information, the business can devise strategies to expand both efficiently.

Stage Four: Expansion

During the expansion stage, a business will typically test the limits of what is possible for it to achieve. The key to continued success at this point in the business’s life is having an understanding of its limits combined with a drive to maximize its potential. Merging with or acquiring another business could be considered part of this stage.

Take a look at the embedded PDF for more information about the expansion stage of a small business’s development.

Stage Five: Maturity

Maturity is considered the final stage of business growth. From this point forward, it’s important to avoid stagnation; the business needs to remain committed to innovation and to meeting the changing needs of its customer-base with new ideas, services, and products.

Moving Beyond the Five Stages of Growth

To conclude, once maturity has been reached it’s not the end of the story. It can be a good idea to revisit the business plan during this stage, to determine whether shifting to a new expansion phase or devising an exit strategy (for example) is the best way forward.