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Are you a Small Business Owner without a strong business foundation?

Don't worry. Any size business, big or small, is constantly encountering "unforeseen" business challenges. But, here's a secret: these challenges don't have to be unforeseen.

Big corporations bring on high-priced management consultants to help them solve business problems. In fact, in 2014, companies spent in excess of $400B on these consultants. For most small business owners, hiring a top consulting firm like McKinsey is out of the question. It's just too expensive.

The value of these consulting firms is that they bring you time-tested, established "frameworks" for solving business problems. As the name suggests, a "framework" provides a structured approach to analyzing and solving a specific business problem. It allows you to address the business issue in an organized, thorough, and efficient manner.

As businesses grow from small to mid-size and eventually to enterprise, they progress through common stages of growth. Each stage is uniquely identified by common characteristics and trends. Below, we have 2 such frameworks that will help you, as a Small Business Owner, anticipate, understand, and overcome your growth and operational challenges.

The 5 Stages of Business Growth


What Is It?

All businesses experience common problems that arise at similar stages in their development. Each stage of growth is characterized by a different impetus to growth and threatened by a different crisis.

Why Is It Helpful to a Small Business Owner?

By familiarizing yourself with this framework, you will know what to focus on right now. Each stage requires a different management style, a different strategic focus, and has a different state of systems and processes.

At the earliest stage of a business, the business owner wears all the hats and directly supervises subordinates. The key focus now is to get customers and deliver our market offerings. The reason a business fails in this stage is because it cannot gain sufficient customer acceptance or product capability to become viable. As your business grows, the aforementioned characteristics will change. The focus shifts to "survival mode," where cash flow is the main concern. Some businesses can get stuck in this stage. Eventually, they go out of business when the owner gives up, or retires, or sells it (usually at a slight loss). How do you avoid getting stuck?

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Consolidation-Endgame Curve


What Is It?

The global consulting firm A.T. Kearney conducted a study of 25,000 firms globally, representing 98% of the global market cap. Through this rigorous study, they came to the realization that ALL industries eventually consolidate, as they traverse through 4 stages of progression.

Why Is It Helpful to a Small Business Owner?

As a business owner, it's very important to understand your industry and market, since this has profound implications on your company and all of your competitors. Is your industry a new one? Or is it mature? Are there any dominant competitors? Or is it made up of a lot of small companies?

Familiarizing yourself with this framework will allow you to know what are the most optimal strategic and operational decisions you should be making. It will also help you determine what your niche strategy should be. Every major decision you make should be evaluated with regard to your industry's stage in the Consolidation Curve.

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By learning and truly understanding the The 5 Stages of Business Growth and Consolidation-Endgame Curve, you will develop a stronger business foundation than most graduates of top 10 MBA programs. You will be prepared for the challenges to come, know when to expect these challenges, and know how best to overcome them.

“To rely on rustics and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.”
– Sun Tzu, Art of War

Other Core Business Topics for Small Business Owners

Flevy has thousands of business documents that cover a variety of management topics. We have synthesized our library of documents into 500+ management topics. Based on discussions with Small Business Consultants, we have picked several management topics that are most prevalent to the small business owners.

Pricing Strategy

Pricing is both an art and a science. Getting it right is critical to your company's success. What are the long-term implications of pricing? What is the impact of your product's maturity on pricing? Are your customers "price sensitive?" These are all important questions to fully understand when determining your product's pricing strategy.

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Business Plan Development

How robust is your business plan? A business plan forces you to think through your business, such as your plan for growth, anticipated changes, and important trade-offs. It is also a vehicle for communication. In fact, to raise any financing for your business, you are required to have a business plan. See examples of business plans here.

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Product Launch Strategy

Remember, you only launch once! So, it's important to get it right. Make sure you've thought through all the important considerations and be confident in your decisions. Product Launch Strategy encompasses a variety of topics, from Consumer Psychology to Product Adoption. Also, take a look at our in-depth article on Product Strategy and Adoption.

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Marketing Plan Development

You may have a great offering, but that won't lead to any sales unless people are aware your company even exists. This is where corporate marketing comes in. Marketing builds awareness and demand for your product. Your Marketing Plan should be the result of Market Segmentation, Competitive Analysis, Competitive Positioning, and other analyses.

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Customer Service

A satisfied customer can be a source of continued revenue, word-of-mouth marketing, and customer referrals. Due to rising customer expectations, delivering excellent service is no longer a choice but a necessity. But how do you deliver great customer service? It turns out there's a systematic approach to achieve customer satisfaction.

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Social Media Marketing

Social Media is an extremely cost effective method of marketing. Social media marketing gives your business global reach and allows you to target your customers in incredible granularity--e.g. location, job function, gender, age, interest, and so forth. For many small businesses, Flevy included, social media is the primary form of marketing utilized.

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Since 2012, we have provided best practices to over 10,000 businesses and organizations of all sizes across the world—in over 130 countries. Below is just a very small sample of our customer base.

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The average daily rate of a McKinsey consultant is $6,625 (not including expenses). The average price of a Flevy document is $65.

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