The four stages of Scaling Up and where coaching can accelerate your growth

October 3, 2023 Neale Lewis

1. Foundation: Strategic Clarity & Differentiation

At this point, you're in the process of defining and refining the business model you intend to scale. There's a focus on initial strategy and validation. Elements determined include Core Customer, the Three Brand Promises, Differentiating Activities, Purpose/Why, BHAG™, Core Values, Culture, and your Vivid Vision.

During this period, expanding the team and leadership can be challenging. Recruiting the right talent becomes easier once the strategy solidifies. This stage typically lasts 3-6 months with coaching or potentially 1-3 years independently.

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2. Beginning to Scale: Operations & Leadership

With a more defined niche and central strategy, building your Leadership Team becomes easier. Prospective leaders are drawn to your vision. The integration of Meeting Rhythms, Scoreboards, and Scorecards ensures the team remains aligned and allows you more strategic time.

But to genuinely scale, enhancing processes and drafting Playbooks is essential. Core Processes become part of your Operational Playbook. You'll also need a Growth Playbook and a Growth Team. Regardless of whether you opt for organic growth or acquisitions, a growth playbook is vital. The CASh model and accounting infrastructure become important.

By the end of this stage, there's a palpable sense of direction. Revenue and profit trend upward. With guidance, this phase spans 6-12 months, but 1-3 years if tackled alone.

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3. Active Scaling: People & Cash Flow

As expansion accelerates, the demand for talent increases and so does the need for capital.

Assuming you solidified the right culture during the first two stages, newcomers integrate seamlessly into your organisation. Approaches like Topgrading, Job Scorecards, Talent Development, and Peer Coaching foster an engaged and loyal team. Emphasising lean methodologies becomes crucial to ward off inefficiencies.

Funding for your burgeoning growth typically arises from one of these four sources:

1: Organic/customer-funded

2: Bank loans

3: Equity or Venture financing

4:  Franchising.

Expansion strategies could involve acquisitions or building into new locations and markets.

Again with guidance, this phase spans 12-18 months, but 2-3 years if tackled alone.

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4. Exit or Succession: Legacy & Rewards

Planning for this stage is proactive, not left to a vague "someday". Preparing for an exit isn't delayed until burnout looms. The business is a component of your life's story, and timely succession ensures legacy.

The most lucrative exits often involve strategic buyers keen on integrating or enhancing their larger vision with what you've built. While Private Equity is a prevalent option at this juncture, it might not offer the same value or peace. Employee/Management buyouts, combined with strategic buyers or private equity, are also viable.

As with every stage, foresight and planning are essential. A coaching partner, armed with resources and experience, can put a happy ending on your Scaling Up story and move you towards an Extraordinary Exit

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