Have you ever wanted to own and operate your own business? Do you fancy yourself as an entrepreneur? Do you dream of being your own boss? Well, if you said yes, then this article is for you. I admit, it does represent a deviation from our usual format but I think you will find the information extremely useful.
This article is actually part 3 in a series about the 7 ages of a business, an entrepreneurial perspective, initially published at DragosRoua.com. The remaining 6 articles have all been published simultaneously as guest posts on 6 other fine personal development and business blogs. You will find links to each of them at the end of this article.
Learning to Fly
The 3rd age of a business, the attention age, is usually the only phase when you are actually doing most of the stuff a business requires you to do. You start identifying processes, you understand your products or services, you begin researching business insurance quotes and your market, you attract clients and beneficial partnerships. After the enthusiasm and naivety, attention is like a deep breath and a count to 5.
During the attention phase you undergo a slow transformation. At least I know I did. I started to become more focused, more relaxed and more effective. If you are a serial entrepreneur, chances are that you can start most of your businesses directly into this stage. It’s the skillful and ambitious stage. It’s also the first one in which you actually enjoy benefits.
The most important sign that you are into the attention phase is your constant flow of good deals or contracts. Whenever you experience a non-interrupted flow of moderately good contracts for more than 6 months, after the naivety and enthusiasm period, you’re usually there. In this stage you’re actually stopping the loss. Not too much of a profit at this stage, but you’re covering your expenses.
What to Avoid
Although you’re entering a very stable period of your business, there are still some things you can do in order to avoid some common pitfalls.
During the attention phase your analyzing skills are heavily strained. It’s a demanding process in which you are both learning and applying what you learn. If you’d be a surgeon, it’s like operating on an opened patient with a surgical knife in the right hand and the manual in the left hand. You have to act, otherwise the patient can enter a coma. Excessive analyzing is not for you at this stage. Entrepreneurship is about doing in the first place, and that’s the
time when you should really act.
It’s easy to get with the flow, but you must first cover your losses. If you start expanding at the first sign of success, without solid partnerships, solid team background and solid cash-flow behind you’ll most likely fail. The expansion temptation is always there, during all phases, and in my experience it was the most frequent cause for business failing. It’s like in military strategy: It’s crucial to first master your surroundings and then go conquer new territories.
If it’s working, don’t break it, goes the saying. It’s OK to keep the same successful approach but don’t allow yourself to be caught in a routine. Once you start doing the right stuff, you will want to repeat the process over and over. Repetition helps you fixate the learning but can lead to boredom. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck into a narrow decision corridor. Do apply your best knowledge and keep your business growing but pay attention to other details too.
What To Do
The attention phase will give you some necessary and creative distance and will increase your control level. Here are some enhancers for this stage.
The attention phase is the most appropriate stage to start innovating. Start adding new features to your products; improve your services or marketing strategies. It’s quite demanding to do this in this stage because you won’t have great resources. Although steady, your cash-flow is still fragile. Your employees are just beginning to get a sense of security with you. But if you manage to stretch a bit, it will give you a highly competitive advantage in the next ages, maturity, expansion and leadership.
Long Term Planning
Take time to make some plans. You have reached a stable point in your campaign and it’s time to establish long term goals. You have all the tools and most of the desired knowledge. Planning long term will also give you a sense of confidence and self-worth. Being in a positive trend will also help you make moderate yet inspired decisions. I remember that during this phase I made my first 3 years plan, including cash-flow, employees and products enhancements.
Do it consciously. Keep a diary. Take notes. Track your winnings, assess your losses and put them in a system. Identify what’s working and what’s not. It’s the best time to start learning from what you are doing. I still have a box full of copy books with all sort of plans, meeting notes SWOT analysis and employees records from that period. Looking at it 5 years later was enlightening. Entrepreneurship is not learned in schools. You are both teacher and student.
From Attention to Maturity
The next stage of your business is maturity, a stage in which you really master your business process and start enjoying long term benefits. My attention period lasted around 1 and half year and I finally considered myself out of it when I was able to predict my profit for the next 2 years with more than 90% accuracy.
The most important thing from the attention period is the experience. This can’t be learned, it must be experienced. The feeling of putting together various pieces of knowledge, intuition, risk and business processes, and seeing at the end of this chain a positive result is fantastic.
As always, none of these stages are set in stone. In my experience none of the described business ages was 100% present at any time in my activity. There is some enthusiasm, naivety and attention in each stage of your beautiful journey as an entrepreneur.
Want to Read the rest of the series?
You can find the remaining 6 ages of your business on these fine personal development and business blogs:
1) The Enthusiasm Business Age… Attraction Mind Maps
2) The Naivety Business Age… Small Biz Bee
4) The Maturity Business Age… Steven Aitchison
5) The Expansion Business Age… Rat Race Trap
6) The Leadership Business Age… My Wife Quit Her Job
7) The Exhaustion Business Age… Learn This
Editors note: All 7 of these articles were written by Dragos Roua. The related articles emerged as a spin-off series from one his most popular articles: The 7 Ages Of A Business. This coordinated effort is part of Internet first called Massive Guest Posting. My thanks to Dragos for his hard work and dedication, and to all of my fellow bloggers who made this project possible.