Note from Stephen: This is a guest post by Dragos at eDragonu – the choice of a personal path. He has an excellent blog and I suggest you check it out.
This article is part of a series about the 7 ages of a business, an entrepreneur perspective, initially published at eDragonu.ro. The remaining 6 articles are published as guest posts on other 6 fine personal development and business blogs. You will find links to them at the end of this article.
Bigger Is Better
The success you experienced in the maturity age of your business is a little bit deceptive. It witness only the fact that your initial idea was worth doing and your implementation was correct. But there is so much more in front of you. Now that you know how to do business, it’s time to prove it on a larger scale. Your idea it was great, but now you’re a full grown business and it’s time to prove it. Whether you like it, or not. That’s the bad news, you’ll have to expand whether you want it or not.
Once you reached a certain level of functionality, your business will be part of a larger mechanism, a market. And that market will try to get your clients. So, you will be forced to react. You will be involved in something called competition. That means you will fight with other businesses in order to get more clients. But the good news is that you have the same tools as they have to get access to their clients. This whole process is called growing.
Expansion is very much like the enthusiasm age. It’s fueled with a lot of energy and you’ll be doing a lot of fantastic steps. But is also a very risky period. This time you’ll not compete only with yourself but with others as well. Some of your competitors are skilled, experienced entrepreneurs. You will be exposed to some big risks. Although you came from a solid ground, you will be forced to walk on moving sands. One thing you won’t miss during this stage is excitement, that’s for sure.
What To Avoid
Among all 7 stages, expansion is one of the riskier episodes. A wrong move or a hasty decision is highly amplified, so here are some suggestions on what to avoid.
During the expansion stage your conservation instinct will be invoked big time. You will be facing some very strong decisions, some of the involving significant potential loss. The intention to get back will be always there. Well, don’t listen to it. Don’t limit yourself out of fear. Don’t let your negativity affect you, especially now. It’s time to grow, it’s time to risk and it’s time do it big time. There will always be a chance to lose everything, now more than ever, but that is part of the thrill. The game is as joyful as you allow it to be. Don’t make it boring.
Speaking of boredom, there is another tendency to avoid, but this time at the other end of the scale. After a series of successful moves, after a certain period of sustained growth and big partnerships you might get a sense of dullness. Surprisingly enough, an easier expansion is as dangerous as a difficult one. Getting a sense of “too easy” might push you into boredom. The only pitfall here is to get bored before you reach the leader position. That would be a shame. So, don’t allow yourself to get bored before your reach the number one position in your market.
Not everything you’ll do in an expansion period will be successful. You might get burned, You might make mistakes. You might lose employees, clients, market share or money. It’s still part of the game. As I already told you, expansion is one of the most dangerous stages in your business, so expect some losses here and now. Don’t be afraid. You did well. You lost something but you still have you and can start over. Speaking of losses, I think failing in the expansion period of your business is the most honorable way to fail in business. At least you died trying.
What To Do
With a little bit of courage, determination and, why not saying it, luck, you can do great during your expansion period. Here are some hints on what you could do to really hit it big.
If you’re going to expand your business then you’re going to really expand your business. Think big. Nothing is impossible at this stage. Remember, you’ve already made it through enthusiasm, naivety, attention and maturity. Why think small? Why not expand beyond any conceivable limit? At this stage any idea, plan or goal will be appropriate. The bigger, the better. Setting a growing mindset is the root of all this. Work with you. Trust yourself. Imagine yourself being the leader of your market, whatever that means in terms of money or market coverage.
This is not a thinking time, it’s an acting time. You had your share of thinking in the attention stage. Now it’s time to act. It’s time to initiate and force. If you react, instead of acting, you’re making the game of the competition. Be proactive, be inventive and do. And, above all, be fast. If you spot an opportunity, act on it. Before everyone else will even think something like that would be possible you’ll be already on top of it. This ability of being fast is often one of the most visible qualities of the entrepreneurs in the expansion stage and will often give them the name of “sharks”. Be like a shark, and take your prey. The other option is to be the prey.
Trust Your Intuition
Many of the successful entrepreneurs I met and done business with were highly intuitive persons. They were acting out of the gut naturally. Acting out of the gut means they were able to take shortcuts of the logical thinking, not to act against logical thinking. Intuition is knowledge hidden in your subconscious mind. It’s usually the result of a dense expertise, an expertise so deep that you’re applying it out of reflex. In this age you’ll be facing pressuring situations, in which thinking fast will not always be an option. You’ll just have to act. Trust your intuition, all you need to know is already inside of you and it will manifest.
From Expansion To Leadership
The next logical phase of your business, once out of the expansion stage, would be the leadership phase. For me, the expansion stage took around one year. During this year I had to make sure I’m not only covering my niche, but I’m also dominating the market. I had to acknowledge and assess the presence of the competition. I had to predict – as much as we human can predict stuff – some employees movement and take appropriate measures.
During this stage I made some of my most interesting partnerships. They weren’t giving me a lot of money but they were very important as establishing my presence there. My approach was not to buy other companies during my expansion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. On the contrary, buying other companies is one of the most used approach in the expanding stage, I just chose no to.
You can find the remaining 6 ages of your business on these fine personal development and business blogs:
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