The 5 Stages of the Small Business Plateau

After a quick start, many businesses reach a plateau – a point where growth levels off, and no matter what you try, you just can’t break through to achieve sustained growth. 

Emerging Business

Emerging, growing business

Equilibrium

The business is efficient for its current systems and capacity

Churn Point

Well established, likely profitable, but little or no growth As small businesses grow, needs change; what worked for a start-up, may need to evolve to allow the business to scale. It could be new skills or experience, technology, infrastructure, or even different leadership approaches.

Invest in the Future

Retooling for success often requires additional investment, causing a temporary reduction in performance

Continued Growth

The company is well-positioned to be scalable and profitable

Emerging Business

Emerging, growing business

Equilibrium

The business is efficient for its current systems and capacity

Churn Point

Well established, likely profitable, but little or no growth As small businesses grow, needs change; what worked for a start-up, may need to evolve to allow the business to scale.

Invest in the Future

Retooling for success often requires additional investment, causing a temporary reduction in performance

Continued Growth

The company is well-positioned to be scalable and profitable
  • Emerging Business
  • Equilibrium
  • Churn Point
  • Investing in the Future
  • Consistent Growth Scalable Profitable
  • 1 - Emerging Business

    1

    Beyond Start-up, sustainable revenue, beginning to build infrastructure

  • 2 - Equilibrium

    2

    Cash cow, peaceful emerging, balanced business

  • 3 - Churn Point

    3

    Stressed – churn point, difficult to sustain, cannot break through to further/sustained growth – working hard, not growing

    As small businesses grow, needs change; what worked for a start-up, may need to evolve to allow the business to scale. It could be new skills or experience, technology, infrastructure, or even different leadership approaches.

  • 4 - Investing in the Future

    4

    Taking risks, new systems, change, innovation, capacity, working toward solutions, investing in future

  • 5 - Consistent Growth Scalable Profitable

    5

    Systems and talent in place, CEO in appropriate role – consistent growth: scalable, profitable

After a quick start, many businesses reach a plateau – a point where growth levels off, and no matter what you try, you just can’t break through to achieve sustained growth. 

Has Your Business Stalled on the Plateau?

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Of course, every business and each owner is unique, so they don’t all fit neatly into categories, but there are six main roadblocks that are commonly uncovered by the Spark Business Diagnostic:

Founder's Cap

FOUNDER'S CAP

The business is limited by the founder/owner’s current vision, ego, or unwillingness to embrace new ideas, approaches. They may be reluctant to hire key expertise that will advance the company beyond their own abilities.

Jack-of-All-Trades

Jack-of-All-Trades

The old adage, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” aptly refers to owners (or a key employee) who efficiently started the business by doing a little bit of everything. But to really grow, they need specialists in critical positions.

Personnel Inhibitor

Personnel Inhibitor

Employees hold you back when you don’t have the right people in the right positions; when you don’t carefully evaluate, recruit, and continue to develop the proper talent, skills and experience needed for each position.

Infrastructure Inhibitor

Infrastructure Inhibitor

Whether it’s space, equipment, people or even entering new markets – ensuring you have the capacity for growth requires some advance risk-taking; “if we build it, they will come.” If you get behind this curve, the company will stall, and it could take years to recover.

Technology Inhibitor

Technology Inhibitor

As technology evolves ever more rapidly, most businesses need to constantly plan and implement computer/online infrastructure and processes to allow for higher efficiency, productivity – and growth. Partial or stop-gap measures often only perpetuate the problem.

Market Facing

Market Facing

External factors can influence the success or failure of your business. Outside inhibitors can include the economy, opportunities, and challenges facing the communities you work in, competitors, and even the health of your client's businesses.

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