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To help you navigate through our knowledge base of 5,000+ documents, this page will direct you to the appropriate resources based on the stage of your startup—Existence (earliest stage), Survival, or Success. Learn more about Flevy here.


Existence is the initial stage for any organization. At this point, it's really just the founding team (which can be just a single founder).

At this stage, the founder manages everyone and everything. He wears all hats and most employees will wear multiple hats. There is no formalized structure. In fact, most business processes are ad hoc and not repeated.

The startup is characterized by Creativity and Chaos. Growth is driven by Innovation and Vision led by a highly creative founder.

The strategic focus at this stage is to discover the product-market fit. This entails experimenting with different Customer Value Propositions and Business Models.

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Reaching this stage demonstrates the startup is already a workable business entity.

The startup has found product-market fit. Its Value Proposition and Business Model have been tested. The startup already has customers and satisfies them sufficiently with its existing products or services to retain them.

The strategic focus has shifted to focus on optimizing Cash Flow. Startups can get stuck at this stage if they don't figure out a sustainable profit formula—i.e. they earn marginal returns on invested time and capital. Depending on its situation, the startup may want to focus on Growth or Cost Containment.

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Congratulations! By this stage, your startup is a successful organization and has options for Growth. In fact, the startup should obtain resources to fuel its Growth—both organic and inorganic.

The startup should have well-formed, repeatable business processes, although they may not scalable. The startup may need to invest heavily in technology to systemize, optimize, and automate business processes. Such technology is necessary to support effective Strategy Planning, Performance Management, and Digital Transformation processes, which are all core focus areas at this stage.

It is also important to be aware that each stage requires a different management style. Therefore, it is common for the management team to also evolve as the organization matures.

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