The four stages of entrepreneurship
Every business moves through four distinct growth phases. Collectively, I call these phases The Maker Method, which is a proprietary framework I developed to help entrepreneurs progress in a sequential and order fashion from starting a business to growing a business to expanding a business that makes you happy and successful, and can generate income for life.
My proprietary Maker Method is a systematic approach that takes the guesswork out of leading your business forward. When you don’t know what to do, consult the Maker Method to determine what phase your business is in, and this will inform you about what types of activities are most important for you to pursue at that point in time.
The four phases of entrepreneurship in the Maker Method are:
- Emerge Phase: Build a solid foundation for profitability and success
During the Emerge Phase, your only job is to build a solid foundation for success. During this phase, ensure that you have a clear vision of how you define success as a business owner. Establish a vision for your business and where you want to lead it in the future.
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What type of lifestyle do you want your business to make possible for you? Do you want to start small and stay small, or do you have a goal of getting your products into major retail stores worldwide? Clarifying these issues in the Emerge Phase empowers you to take steps that will lead in the direction of your ultimate success.
Other activities that should be performed during the Emerge Phase include establishing a corporate status within your state, identifying your niche target audience, opening business bank accounts, setting up your tax ID, setting prices, and starting to build a customer list.
- Engage Phase: Sell products and services by sharing your brand message, focusing on your specific niche target audience
Not surprisingly, the Engage Phase is all about engaging with your target audience to produce sales.
In the Engage Phase, you will go out into the world and share your brand message and make your offers to the target audience you identified during the Emerge Phase.
During the Engage Phase, you will use social media, texting, direct mail, and newsletters, to spread the word about what you have to offer. You may also host informational webinars and videos, attend networking events, participate in vending events, appear as a guest on media outlets that serve your target audience, and do anything you can to build awareness of and community around your brand.
The Engage Phase is where sales begin to take hold. As you engage with more people, you enjoy more sales opportunities. As you close sales, you will develop relationships with customers who buy on a recurring basis. Over time, these repeat sales will make your business profitable. Once you have created effective engagement systems that produce repeat sales on a regular basis, you are ready to move to the Evolve Phase.
- Evolve Phase: Stabilize your business by designing repeatable systems that allow your business to run without your direct and continuous presence
During the Evolve Phase, you will use the patterns and trends developed during the Engage Phase to stabilize your business and create systems that will allow the business to run without your consistent and regular involvement.
The Evolve Phase is a time of exfoliation. In other words, you will smooth the rough edges of your business and establish operational systems that create repeat success with greater ease. One of the ways you will do this is by hiring people to perform the tasks that produce the result you want in the business.
By the time you arrive at the Evolve Phase, you will have a clear picture of what products and services sell the best so you can maximize those lines of business. You can also discontinue products that do not sell well or which have a poor profit margin.
In business, you are constantly innovating to keep up with changing customer expectations, market trends, and new business opportunities. As a result, some aspects of your business will always be in the Evolve Phase, even as you move to the Expand Phase.
- Expand Phase: Leverage your success by creating multiple revenue streams that generate income for life
Once you get to the Expand Phase, you are ready to leverage your existing success to create multiple income streams. During the Expand Phase, you can look at core profit centers and expand upon them.
There are two basic ways to do this. First, you can sell new products to existing customers. Second, you can sell existing products to a new target audience.
Kimberly Cross of Zhi Bath and Body (link to https://www.zhibathandbody.com/) in Charlotte sells artisanal bath and body products direct to consumers through her website and using social media. As Kim entered the Expand Phase of her business, she realized that other cosmetics companies wanted to add to their product line, but they needed manufacturing help.
Kim added a “private label” arm to her business, and now sells the same products she makes for her customers to other retail brands. By adding private label, Kim has created an additional income stream by selling existing products to a different target audience.
The ”Silent: Fifth Phase: the Exit Phase
None of us lives forever. At some point, you will exit your business, and it is wise to be in as much control of this as possible by planning it in advance.
At any time, you may choose to exit your business, so it’s important to be aware of the “silent” fifth phase of the Maker Method: the Exit Phase. It is silent because it can happen at any time.
You may decide that you no longer wish to run your business, so you may exit by selling it or simply closing and liquidating the assets. You may exit by leaving your business to your children or other family members.
Monitor and evaluate your progress quarterly so you can be in control of the eventual exit process as much as possible.
Every business is somewhere in one of the four phases of The Maker Method, yet many business owners are unaware of which phase they are in. This can lead to engaging in activities that are not appropriate for the phase at hand, especially in the beginning.
Take an honest and regular look at which phase your business is in so you can perform the activities that are appropriate for that phase. Don’t put the cart before the horse, and don’t wait too late to take important actions.
Take the right actions today to ensure that you are building a business that makes you happy and successful, and can generate income for as long as you want it to.
Let’s Talk About It!
Which phase of The Maker Method is your business in? How are things going? Are you taking the right actions in the right phase? How can I help you lead your business in the direction you want it to go?
Send me your questions and comments using this form https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScSG94HoO5PumZ3X94L53HEEuw4x0uBTnZ0qbOEbd1wwAhslg/viewform, or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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