The Solopreneur's Growth Cycle

Blog - using the solopreneurs growth cycle to support your growth

Lately you’re working hard, doing everything, busting your butt to make things happen in your business, but you’re just not getting anywhere. You’re doing all the right things – you’re consistently present on social media, prioritising the promotion of your services, creating new and exciting offerings, investing in your growth, actioning as many ideas as possible…

But instead of moving forward, you’re stuck in a rut, or you may even feel like you’re going backwards.

If only you could do more, be more, or find that magical missing ingredient that would propel your growth. But you’re exhausted. How could you possibly do any more when you’re already doing it all?

Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth running a business at all.

Does this sound a little familiar?

How do we get off that treadmill, and into a place of growth minus the stress and exhaustion?

In this blog I’m going to help you understand why you’re stuck on the treadmill (hint: it’s to do with your growth cycle) and what you can focus on to prepare you for the next stage of your growth.

Prefer to watch instead? Tune in to the video below:


The Solopreneur’s Growth Cycle

You may have heard of the 5 stages of small business growth. Harvard Business Review describes those 5 stages as:

  1. Existence
  2. Survival
  3. Success
  4. Take-Off
  5. Resource Maturity

Illustration showing 5 stages of business growth as Existence, Survival, Success, Take-Off, Maturity

Those stages of business categorise the different stages of growth of a small business over the long term and big picture.

But today I want to introduce you to another cycle of growth that occurs within these stages of business – particularly for solopreneurs who run their business alone, or in a very small team.

The Solopreneur’s Growth Cycle is a 3-phase cycle that is categorised by what the business owner should focus on to reach the next phase. When the cycle is completed, business growth can occur with more ease and flow.

The three stages of the solopreneur’s growth cycle are:

  1. Growth
  2. Rest
  3. Prepare

Diagram explaining 3 stages of a solopreneur's business growth (Solopreneur Growth Cycle)

Let’s go more in depth into understanding these stages.

The Growth Phase

The Growth Phase is a period in the business where change and growth take place, usually resulting in a significant boost in revenue.

You can tell when you’re in a growth phase because these are the months where you’ll reach or exceed your income goals, and it probably felt relatively easy to do so. You’ll be wondering why it was so hard in previous months.

You’ll have a lot of activity in your business, because you’ll have an increased number of clients to serve, or leads in progress, and your energy levels will be high because of this growth.

What to focus on in the Growth Phase

When you’re in the Growth Phase you’ll experience an increase in revenue and client work, and with that comes change in how you manage your business. Your focus in this stage is making this level of business your new normal.

So, you can focus on managing your time, your new workload, and becoming more skilled in managing the increased flow of money.

The Rest Phase

The Rest Phase is a time where you are recovering from the changes that occur in the Growth Phase. You cannot stay in the Growth Phase forever because it is exhausting. Once you’ve started adjusting to the new normal, it’s time for you rest.

You can tell that you’re in the rest phase because you’ll feel your energy is falling, and your body is encouraging you to take it slow. However, if you’re not listening to what your body needs, you’ll continue to push yourself, hoping to continue growth. This is where burnout can occur, where you’re desperately trying to keep things moving, but nothing’s happening, and it’s making you stressed and emotional.

This is common because, when we experience growth, we want it to continue. We feel like, if we stop now, we’ll lose the momentum and end up going backwards.

What to focus on in Rest Phase

When you’re in the Rest Phase you need to do literally that: rest.

Prioritise the care of yourself, including good quality sleep, nutritious food, and down time. You need to recharge those batteries before you can do anything else.

The more you try to ignore the Rest Phase, the harder it will become to move forward.

Beware of comparisonitis here, because when nothing is happening in our business, we often look at others in envy because things are happening for them, but not for us. Just know that they’re in a different phase of the cycle, and it’ll be your turn again soon.

Remember that rest is a crucial and beautiful phase to be in, so make sure you prioritise your own care.

The Prepare Phase

This phase is one of readiness. It’s where you’re getting all of your ducks in a row in preparation for a new level in your business.

You’ve spent time recovering from your last period of growth and your energy levels are starting to rise again. You’re well rested and ready to get moving again. This is how you know you’re coming into the Prepare Phase.

What to focus on in the Prepare Phase

With rising energy and lowered stress levels, you’ll be feeling creative in this phase. It’s a time to bring your ideas into focus and start planning for what comes next.

You’ll focus on getting yourself and your business ready for new growth. This includes:

Physical readiness – are you fit and healthy enough to grow? Your body needs to cope with growth, so make sure you’re still a priority.

Emotional readiness – do you have the emotional capacity to manage new growth? High stress levels or mental load won’t support your growth. If you’ve got things going on at home, then it’ll become too much for you to manage that plus business growth.

Mental readiness – how’s your mindset? Do you believe you can achieve new levels of growth, or do you have some mindset hurdles to jump over first?

Financial readiness – can your business manage the increased revenue? Are you in a position to invest back into your business to support the growth? If not, you need to stay here a little longer to build up your financial position.

Business readiness – are your systems and processes at a point where they can handle more? Do you need to streamline, automate, or outsource to a team member? Your business needs to be ready for growth too.

What phase are you in?

While you’ve been reading this blog you’ve probably had a few moments of realisation. Maybe you’ve figured out which phase of the growth cycle you’re in, but it might not be aligned with the actions you’re currently taking.

To move forward, you can identify which stage of the Solopreneur’s Growth Cycle you’re in, what you should be focusing on as a priority, and how that can help you progress to the next phase.

If you’re stuck, you can refer to this video to give you a reminder on what to prioritise. It’ll save you a lot of unnecessary stress from pushing yourself too hard, or from feeling like you’re stuck on that treadmill.

Every stage is important

Let’s recap on the important points of this article:

  • Every solopreneur goes through cycles of growth which includes 3 phases:
    • The Growth Phase
    • The Rest Phase
    • The Prepare Phase.
  • Identifying which phase of growth you are in can inform your priorities.
  • If growth is difficult, then you’re probably prioritising the wrong things.
  • Every phase of the cycle is important in helping the business owner achieve growth in her business, and to make that growth come with ease.

If you’d like to learn more about the Solopreneur’s Growth Cycle and using it to achieve more natural growth in your business, then come and join my paid membership. Next month’s practical workshop will delve into this on a much deeper level, helping you identify what you can work on inside your business to help you prepare and reach the next level inside your business. Visit my membership’s page to learn more or become a member.

Michelle Marks Business Coach

About the author

Michelle is a chocoholic, stationery obsessed Business Coach from the seaside town of Mandurah, WA. She specialises in working with Virtual Assistants and B2B service providers, helping them to grow a fulfilling, sustainable and profitable home-based business.

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