The Entrepreneur's Secret Weapon
Every Entrepreneur's journey can be summed up in 5 key stages. Every stage is different from the other, and their goals and purposes are also different from each other.
Often the CEOs or the founding members fail to recognise the crossover phase and continue to function much like they have been operating since the inception of their company. An entrepreneur begins his or her journey with a convincing pitch. This pitch to a stranger is the first secret weapon that creates the seed of the organisation. Convincing a stranger is the first sign that you have something that your client or customer or VC is willing to put their money into. If you have bagged the initial contracts from your known clients and circle, you are blowing your trumpet too quickly. Such accounts disappear sooner or later, but by then you have endured many liabilities.
The second phase of entrepreneurs lands almost uninvitingly and at random moment, when you were not expecting it. It’s this moment when things are not going as you have planned; your crucial customers or clients have decided to move to another rival. Or it could be almost unfortunate that there is a dip in the economy. The natural response to this situation is panic and a lot of hasty decisions. You and your founding partner are the only people who understand the gravity of the situation. You try harder and harder every day. Whether you will survive or not will not depend on your key customers, but your self-belief in your work and your marketing skills. If you are proud of your work and you know you are better than the rest, all you need to do is to look out for the customer who is willing to pay for the service or work on the solution which is closely related to your work and is much in demand. With your marketing skills, you would know which door to knock and how.
The third phase begins with a sense of achievement; you finally realise that you have made it; you have made it through some of the most desperate time, from bankruptcy to profit. At this point, the demand for your services gradually keeps mounting. Having crossed your survival phase with your self-belief is a high kick. You now want to give the best to your team, and you randomly organise parties and provide a bonus to keep your team happy and naturally your payouts per month begin to rise. However, it is a short run period, as you come across glitches which you cover up for your team, increasing in you micro-managing the work to avoid any mistakes that put the credibility of your organisation at stake. Pressure on you keeps mounting. You bring in more experienced people, and with that, you invite more trouble as each brings their way of functioning. While the new guys respect you for the team it creates havoc, the team suddenly gets multiple point of views, and they don't know which one to follow. It results to more escalations. At this point, your secret weapon is building critical organisational processes and then taking the hard decisions because the sooner you put things in place, the sooner things begin to fall in place; holding people and extended leaders accountable. Let them know that you are not in a mood to destroy what you have taken years to create.
The fourth phase is a period when you realise that despite all your efforts the pyramid of the organisation is building upside down, yes you may have the money, and you have grown and expanded but the ownership is missing, everyone has gone back to doing a job. And few years have crossed without much of any difference, you still call all the shots, you don't mind, but it is now showing up on your health, your payrolls have gone much higher, and the agility your organisation once had is no longer visible. You strive hard to push the growth and offer the best of benefits, but the results are not showing up. You have been growing through referrals, and all your customers are relying on you. They expect you to supervise their projects. At this point, your secret weapons are many, if you want to sell out and exit your business, you must consider building the brand equity of your organisation. If you wish to push further and take a risk to grow, you must focus on creating an organisational culture, a secret sauce to making it big. With the weapon of culture by your side, you will find the agility you once had. The culture of the organisation now backs your growth strategies.
The fifth stage of your business is about diversity. You begin to realise that your current business offering is coming to maturity, and you need to diversify to keep the momentum, but having stuck to a model for a long time has its consequences. It deserves serious thinking, you are not that agile anymore and the harder you wish to drive the change the harder you get back to your existing thriving business. This is the phase where you need to use your final weapon - innovation and your ability to drive the change within the organisation. Building a small unit within the organisation and converting the little one into a larger one. While the article is a short read, the number of years required to complete all the five stages may consume your lifetime. But a timely reminder and a supporting Business Advisor is most crucial towards this journey. It’s time to make the key weapons handy to thrive in the ocean of possibilities.