What phase is your company in?

The post about speed paradigm got me thinking about how a company changes over time.
Entrepreneurship research speeks of three main character types needed in different phases of a company’s life:

  • The entrepreneur.
  • The manager
  • The leader

Going through the different stages:

  • In the startup phase, the company is looking for scalable business model. This is where the entrepreneurs feel right at home.
  • Once the business model is established your focus must be: growth. You need to build a team and an organisation. In this phase the entrepreneur should phase herself out in favor of a leader. It’s actually a difficult phase because you need all three types at once, and often at a rapid pace as well. Few entrepreneurs can take this step by themselves.
  • The next phase is calmer in a way. It’s about optimising. This is where the managers come in. This phase can last for quite a while, in some companies for decades. Meanwhile the entrepreneurial spirit of the company gets weaker and weaker and the ability to handle change is diminishing. All leading to…
  • Decline and crisis. Once again it’s time for the leaders to step in. Tough decisions must be taken. Pet projects must die. Focus and profitabitity is of the essence. But the time of crisis is also a good time for new ideas.
  • If you’re lucky you’re able to restart the business and once again build something new. The entrepreneurs will do the building and the circle continues.

Looking at this: what stage is your company in? Do you have the right people at the top?

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