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Business Life Cycle

Your business is changing. With the passage of time, your company will go through various stages of the business life cycle. Learn what upcoming focuses, challenges and financing sources you will need to succeed.

A business goes through stages of development similar to the cycle of life for the human race. Parenting strategies that work for your toddler can not be applied to your teenager. The same goes for your small business. It will be faced with a different cycle throughout its life. What you focus on today will change and require different approaches to be successful.

The 7 Stages of the Business Life Cycle

7 Stages of Business Life Cycle Seed Stage Start Up Stage Growth Stage Established Stage Expansion Mature Stage Exit Stage

Click on the stages for more information.


The seed stage of your business life cycle is when your business is just a thought or an idea. This is the very conception or birth of a new business.

  • Challenge: Most seed stage companies will have to overcome the challenge of market acceptance and pursue one niche opportunity. Do not spread money and time resources too thin.
  • Focus: At this stage of the business the focus is on matching the business opportunity with your skills, experience and passions. Other focal points include: deciding on a business ownership structure, finding professional advisors, and business planning.
  • Money Sources: Early in the business life cycle with no proven market or customers the business will rely on cash from owners, friends and family. Other potential sources include suppliers, customers, government grants and banks.
  • WNB products to consider: Classic Checking Account / Business Savings Account / SBA Resources / Minnesota SBDC / Minnesota Community Capital Fund

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Your business is born and now exists legally. Products or services are in production and you have your first customers.

  • Challenge: If your business is in the start-up life cycle stage, it is likely you have overestimated money needs and the time to market. The main challenge is not to burn through what little cash you have. You need to learn what profitable needs your clients have and do a reality check to see if your business is on the right track.
  • Focus: Start-ups require establishing a customer base and market presence along with tracking and conserving cash flow.
  • Money Sources: Owner, friends, family, suppliers, customers, grants, and banks.
  • WNB products to consider: Seed Stage Products / Working Capital Loan / Line of Credit / Equipment Financing / Business Internet Banking / Bill Payer / Credit Card Processing

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Your business has made it through the toddler years and is now a child. Revenues and customers are increasing with many new opportunities and issues. Profits are strong, but competition is surfacing.

  • Challenge: The biggest challenge growth companies face is dealing with the constant range of issues bidding for more time and money. Effective management is required and a possible new business plan. Learn how to train and delegate to conquer this stage of development.
  • Focus: Growth life cycle businesses are focused on running the business in a more formal fashion to deal with the increased sales and customers. Better accounting and management systems will have to be set-up. New employees will have to be hired to deal with the influx of business.
  • Money Sources: Banks, profits, partnerships, grants and leasing options.
  • WNB products to consider: Line of Credit / Equipment Financing / Construction Loan / Commercial Real Estate Loan / Health Savings Account / Remote Deposit / Cash Management / Business Credit Card

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Your business has now matured into a thriving company with a place in the market and loyal customers. Sales growth is not explosive but manageable. Business life has become more routine.

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This life cycle is characterized by a new period of growth into new markets and distribution channels. This stage is often the choice of the business owner to gain a larger market share and find new revenue and profit channels.

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Year over year sales and profits tend to be stable, however competition remains fierce. Eventually sales start to fall off and a decision is needed whether to expand or exit the company.

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This is the big opportunity for your business to cash out on all the effort and years of hard work. Or it can mean shutting down the business.

  • Challenge: Selling a business requires your realistic valuation. It may have been years of hard work to build the company, but what is its real value in the current market place. If you decide to close your business, the challenge is to deal with the financial and psychological aspects of a business loss.
  • Focus: Get a proper valuation on your company. Look at your business operations, management and competitive barriers to make the company worth more to the buyer. Set-up legal buy-sell agreements along with a business transition plan.
  • Money Sources: Find a business valuation partner. Consult with your accountant and financial advisors for the best tax strategy to sell or close-out down business.
  • WNB products to consider: Acquisition Financing / Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) / Investment Brokerage / Trust

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