In my previous articles I have set out some broad principles of managing in context and not content and how being stuck in the detail of our businesses is often both stressful and unproductive.
But how much detail you should have in your in-tray obviously depends on where your business is in its lifecycle. A CEO of an early stage business has a very different job to one running a mature business.
Your role changes year by year and to understand your priorities at any one point it's vital to know where you are and what's coming next.
All businesses have a natural lifecycle and go through clearly identifiable growth stages. These stages are not based on set periods of time, but rather on "energy" within the business. It is this energy, or "feelings", of the key players in an organisation that will dictate at which stage a company is and when it moves from one stage to another.
At Shirlaws we have worked closely with hundreds of businesses all over the world and using this experience have created a model of this progression we call the "Stages model". This model applies to every company, regardless of size or sector.
This diagram is an overview of our Stages model. It shows each stage or phase of the business' development and the feelings at each phase shown in red below the timeline.
These feelings are a remarkably accurate indicator for precisely where the business lies on this timeline. All businesses begin on the left side at 'Day 1', filled with excitement, nervousness, and lots of activity. Only the most successful make it through the main hurdles (the two 'brick walls') and into a Stage of Advanced Growth.
Your current Stage will be impacting every aspect of your operations - for better or for worse. Internally, communication may be relaxed or may be stressed (or both, in different staff members). Externally, trying to sell a 'Good Times' product to a Frustrated client will only lead to disappointing conversion rates.
And of course knowing where you are - and what you will experience next - is key to developing easy, profitable strategy.
Your Stages Action Plan
So, how does your business feel today?
Is it an exciting and frantically busy place? Calm and relaxed?
Or stressful and increasingly frustrated?
Understanding that will tell you what you should do now and what is coming up in the future. Importantly, the current recession has driven many businesses into the Second Brick Wall - and they need to make different investments to ensure they move through in a way that continues their growth.
Shirlaws coaches are all trained in the nuances of applying Stages to businesses of every size. And this key growth diagnostic is now even more accessible -you can complete the Stages test right here on MikeSouthon.com by clicking the big "Business Growth Test" button at the top of this page.
What to do now
Complete the Shirlaws Stages test here. If you are in a partnership or have a leadership team, ensure all of your colleagues complete the test this week as well.
Read the report at the end of the Stages test - this is an action plan designed to support you with your strategy, communication, and sales.
Create a list of your ten most important colleagues and clients - share this article and/or the Stages test with these ten people and organise a meeting to discuss your similarities and differences.