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Finally.  After (probably) years of hard work, you have an established business.  In stage four of the business life cycle, your wild toddler has matured into a thriving adult with its own space in the market and loyal customers.  Growth probably isn’t as explosive as in previous stages, but it’s manageable.  Running the business has become more and more routine.

For most business owners, the biggest problem at this stage isn’t some external issue; it comes from within.  You’ve worked hard, the business is running relatively smoothly – you want to rest (and you probably deserve to).  Unfortunately, the marketplace is relentless and competitive.  You can’t afford to be complacent or what you have created will gradually slip away.  Complacency and a “good is good enough” mentality just won’t do it.  The world does not allow for coasting.  You have to keep emphasizing the importance of continuous improvement and productivity.  Do you have a process in place that demands continuous improvement?  Do you reward your people for being innovative?  Are you measuring efficiency?

Your employees are probably trying to be more efficient and develop better systems.  So what is your role as the leader?  At this stage, your number one job is to stay focused on the big picture.  What does the future look like?  What economic forces will you have to deal with down the road?  Do you understand your competitors?  What will your customers want five years from now?  Looking into the future is challenging, but to successfully run a business in today’s rapidly changing world, you have no choice. 

Are you being truly honest when you answer these questions?  Are you confronting the brutal facts?

If your business is in stage four what other challenges are you facing?  Complacency is a very silent and brutal killer of businesses.  What are you doing to combat complacency in your business?

How Does Your Business Measure Up

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