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Businesses (and Leaders) Grow in Stages

America's trusted voice on money and business, Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert and extremely popular national radio personality. His three New York Times best-selling books - Financial Peace, More Than Enough and The Total Money Makeover - have sold more than 6 million copies combined. His latest book is EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches.
Your business and you grow in stages. It takes planning and hard work. Is your business following the stages described in this article? Businesses (and Leaders) Grow in Stages

A lot goes into running your own business. The seemingly endless hustle can leave business owners burned out, discouraged, and disconnected from the dream that got them started in the first place. It can be overwhelming. But you can build a successful business that lasts, makes a difference, and have a blast doing it. 

Start with the person in your mirror. Youhave the responsibility as a leader to grow and change things. But to do this, you also need to understand businesses and leaders grow in stages. To build a business that thrives and leaves a legacy, every business owner must push through five critical stages:

Treadmill operator

Unless they bought or inherited a company, most leaders start in the treadmill operator stage. They are huffing and puffing day after day, just trying to keep their business open one stride at a time. They’re the CEO—Chief Everything Officer. From social media marketing to installing kitchen sinks, they do whatever it takes to get the job done.

But this isn’t a stage you want to camp out in forever. It will wear you out, and eventually take you down. If you want to lead a business that thrives, you have to stop letting your business run you, and start running your business with goals in mind.


The key to moving to this stage is to create time to be more strategic, and work on your business—not just in it. In this stage, the leader stops spending 100% of his or her time focusing on tasks, and they start making space to focus on themselves as a leader and on their strategy for their business.


Here, the fundamentals of a high-powered and healthy organization—core values, long-term goals, and a meaningful mission—are in place, and you’re getting consistent results. Still, you need a strong team and a winning strategy to rise to the top. Get your team to own their roles with excellence, and you’ll see substantial growth.

Peak performer

Now, the owner isn’t the only one moving this thing forward. The entire company is thinking about serving people, growing profits, and taking performance to the next level. As the business continues to grow, the owner empowers leaders to carry out the vision, strategies, and mission of the business. But no matter how successful you are, you still have to keep fighting for your business.

Legacy builder

At this point, a business owner is preparing for transition and a succession plan that will keep the company in good hands when they step down. Your greatest challenge is to ready the team, and equip them to carry on the work you started.

In business, the road to success is paved with lots of planning and hard work. And it’s a gradual process. There’s no such thing as an overnight success!

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