When first starting a business, you may have an idea as to how things will progress. You have done everything thus far by the book and are excited at the possibilities ahead. Your business plan accounts for conservative business growth in the year ahead, but do you believe you have it all figured out? There are typically five stages of growth when starting from the ground up. See if you have predicted where your own venture will be in the years ahead.

1. Formation

When you first start, you may run into troubles early on. Things happen that you didn’t plan for such as inventory shortfalls or equipment malfunctions. You will encounter these growing pains reasonably soon, and unfortunately, there is no clear indicator of when you move from this stage to the next.

2. Staying Alive

You made it past the first phase when things even out just a tad. You have a predictable customer base, and money is flowing in. However, will it be enough to keep the business afloat? Business growth is much like tidal waters. You have periods of where things rush in and others where everything gets sucked right out from underneath you. In this stage, you need to keep your head above water.

3. Profitability

There will come the point when the business starts making money. This stage is when you become profitable, at least in the sense of breaking even month after month. You may not be raking in cash, but you will have enough in reserves to cover slow periods and things that crop up. You may start thinking about expansion during this time.

4. Upward Growth

When you decide to expand your operation to a larger platform, you may feel like you are back at the first stage where you aren’t sure how things are going to work out. Your money may start to dwindle, and demands will begin to creep back in.

5. Stability

While a business may never indeed be stable, it can reach a point where things function reasonably smoothly. You have hired more of a workforce, including management beneath you to handle day to day operations. It is during this time that you can reflect on how your business growth journey progressed.

Business growth is not always predictable, but there are standard phases it moves through. Being able to track these phases and getting help when you feel stuck is integral to the current and future success of your business.