The journey from a small business to a fully blown corporation may take a lifetime and this can be discouraging for any budding entrepreneur. Many aspiring entrepreneurs want to start businesses and get returns almost immediately. This is an unrealistic expectation for building a sustainable venture that can stand the test of time.
It is important for one to match expectations with reality when deciding what venture to set up. Over the years, young entrepreneurs have been misled by success stories of others without considering the possibility of exaggeration. They venture into businesses with high expectations of immediate returns and are unfortunately disappointed along the way.
No matter how exciting or promising a new business idea is, the business owner should get their facts right about that venture and must be realistic with their expectations. When a business promises ten new opportunities, it is advisable to plan with only two or three opportunities in mind. This is not to discredit the potential of a business idea, but rather to hedge against any unforeseen risk that comes with establishing that business.
Every venture experiences seasons of plenty and famine, and it is important for an entrepreneur to understand these seasons and manage expectations accordingly. Solid corporations are built from these different stages:
Conception – Every business starts with a seemingly great idea and sometimes, ends as bad one. The conception stage is an important one in the life cycle of a business because only what is conceived can be executed. A business idea can either be brand new, or an upgrade from an existing business.
Sowing – Entrepreneurs in this stage must commit their time and resources to set things in motion for the venture to kick off.
Crystallization – Entrepreneurs tend to jump from conception straight into implementation. This is a dangerous, as crucial elements of that business idea may be lost at the crystallization stage. Entrepreneurs must document and vet all ideas within the team and seek expert advice where necessary. At this stage the organizational structure and the corporate culture begins to take form.
Incubation – This is a period where many entrepreneurs lose faith in their business idea due to minimal business activity. Like every seed planted, there is always a time of waiting before harvest. This does not mean the business idea isn’t viable, but startups must be patient while investing in the business, before it materializes.
Teething – There will be a few bits and bobs and mild turbulences in the early life of any business. Some decisions will yield negative outcomes and some expectations will be unmet. At this stage, it is important to keep the faith and learn from any mistakes made during the teething stage.
Harvest – Once an entrepreneur stays consistent in running a venture, growth and stability will gradually take its course. At this stage, traction is built and there is patronage from the first set of clients. This income may come in trickles but it is a positive sign that a handful of people have seen value in your product or service offering. At this point, you must stay focused on building your business and it is only a matter of time before the customer base increases.
Growth – At this phase, the business has established its brand in the marketplace. Income streams are now steady enough for the entrepreneur to forcast and plan towards the future. This is another dangerous stage because of the tendency for entrepreneurs to become complacent. A forward thinking entrepreneur must apply innovation based on market trends to sustain and increase the growth of that business.
Scaling – After the growth stage, scaling up is usually the last stage for many businesses. After a period of stability and increased success, the venture must scale up. A business can scale up from increased investments, diversification of interests or even from mergers. When profit increases significantly, it is time for the business to consider expansion to meet growing demand.
From the points mentioned, it is clear that it takes time to build a successful venture and aspiring entrepreneurs must have realistic expectations when going through these stages.
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