Stages of Business Development - The Quick and Easy Facts


Sometimes it’s hard to tell what stage of business development your business is in. Not only is it different for everyone, but sometimes the stages melt together and it’s only with someone else’s eye, or a serious sit down and think session, that you realize you’re in a completely different phase in business than you thought! That’s typically an exciting thing.


This blog post is for those business owners who are so busy doing their thing that they’ve never really sat down to figure out exactly what stage they’re in, or for those business owners who want guidance on the stages and what they can expect to see in each one.


So let’s jump right in!

→ The Three Stages of Business Development ←

There are three main phases, with three sub-phases each.

  1. Startup (Plan, Prep, Launch)
  2. Growth (Build, Automate, Scale)
  3. Modification (Leverage, Expand, Pivot).

I like to compare this to building a house. Think of it like this:

  1. Building (Architect, Contractor, Subcontractor)
  2. Move-In (Movers, Interior Design, Housekeeper/Landscaper)
  3. Settle in (Professional Organizer, Remodeling, Realtor)


→ Startup

In the planning stage, you’re setting intentions and making decisions. A lot of coaches might call this building your blueprint (Which is where the architect comes in, with the building a house comparison). So many people want to skip the planning stage because it’s so much more fun to be visible and launch. The problem is though when you do move into a launch without the concrete planning stage, you make so many changes that cost increases and you have to spend more, and that creates self-doubt, which can really hold you back.   


In the prep stage, you’re doing the warmup work. You haven’t launched, but you’re getting supplies and deciding when those supplies need to get there; you’re outlining steps and determining when those steps need to happen. 


At launch, you’ll find that this is when you do things that actually make other things happen. This is when your business comes into existence, and you start to see the impact. This is where the world starts to see your business, and to get to know your message, your services, and you.  In the home building analogy, this would be the time when subcontractors, like those who lay flooring, and electricians, come into the process. There are lots of roles for a solopreneur to play during launch, but you may have subcontractors at this point as well.


→ Growth

Within the growth stage, the first stage is to build. This is where your business increases in size, where you start to see developments that give you an idea of what your business might look like in the future. In the house building comparison, this is where you’d finally get to move in and begin to make the home comfortable.  In either situation, you’ll find that there’s progress to be made. In business, a key step at this stage is focusing on marketing. Marketing is how you build brand awareness and visibility, which are key goals for any business at this stage.


Automation is the next step. It means decreasing the time that it takes to work with each client to achieve specific goals or the time it takes to complete specific services. This is when you also want to decrease or maintain your costs per client. A lot of people don’t want to go into automation because there is a cost, but, if it’s going to reduce the time it takes you to do something, you’ll be getting paid, the same, or even more for each client or service, because it takes less time to complete the task. Automation gives your time back. If you have more time, you’ll make more money. 


Scaling is the third step. This is where you start increasing profit, without increasing your overall costs. There is a cost, but it’s a one-time cost, most often. 

→ Modification  

The modification stage is the last big stage in business ownership, in this breakdown.


As you build leverage and use what you already have put in place, this is the time to multiply your outcomes without increasing the resources you put out, or costs. In other words, you’ll do something with one specific cost, but you’ll find a way to increase profit. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll find a way to have it happen again and again, without increasing the resources you put out. Potential types of leverage include info products/DIY courses and education pieces are types of leverage.


In the expansion phase, you’ll be increasing in size, volume, or scope. Your business will get larger, or you’ll be making a bigger splash, a bigger impact, without increasing your costs.  This is where things get confusing for many business owners. Providing services to a new client may mean that you have added costs, but the cost that you put out per client doesn’t change. There WILL be additional costs, but you’ll have additional income that will lessen the impact of the costs overall. There are lots of ways to expand, and it can happen in many different ways. Those might include bringing on a new client, providing services in a new area, even hiring staff to outsource some of your work. 


In the pivot stage, you’ll look to increase profits without increasing your costs. This will happen as you make adjustments and improvements or changes to the way you conduct business. This may mean correcting internal systems, creating systems that improve efficiency and effectiveness. One thing to remember is that there may be small increases in profit, or larger profit made that more than covers the cost of the change itself.


This path isn’t the exact same for everyone, but it’s a pretty consistent outline for what I’ve seen in my decade+ years in business. A lot of businesses and companies move from planning, prep, and launch, straight into the build phase, then simultaneously automate and scale. Some may pivot before they focus on leverage and expansion.

business ownership coach for solopreneurs and service businessesABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erin Garcia, Business Coach


Coach Erin has been guiding new business owners through the process of starting, growing, and managing a service business since 2003. Between coaching, brand design, and website development you might catch her strolling the beaches of Western Washington, visiting family in Arizona, or enjoying a glass of iced tea creekside on her back patio.


Hello! & Welcomehire your first business coach, Erin Garcia

I'm Coach Erin. I help new and emerging business owners
organize ideas
design authentic brands
systematize business
create and implement strategies
improve productivity

If you want to start, grow and manage your online service business with more confidence, consistency, and control, let's meet.

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