The Five Phases of Scaling—in a Nutshell

As you scale your business, your ultimate goal is to shift from being “the boss” to becoming a leader. Your end game is to remove yourself from the equation and build a self-managed company. Your role as the founder is to let go of the day-to-day, to strategize and build relationships to supercharge growth, and to inspire your team to achieve greatness. My prior blog installments took you step-by-step through the process, but to make things even easier I’ve boiled the process down to five phases of scaling, along with the accompanying roles you will assume during each one: the Seeker, the Pioneer, the Ringleader, the Cocreator, and the Visionary

The 5 Stages of Scaling in a NutshellPHASE 1: YOU ARE THE SEEKER

This is your starting point. You run and rule everything in your domain. In fact, you are the domain. You create, implement, project manage, direct, coordinate, sell, and oversee every step in your company’s process. At this stage, you are a Seeker who is searching for the right formula for success.


Your business is off the ground and you recruit a bare-bones staff. You may have an assistant, a marketing coordinator, and a bookkeeper. You’ve started to delegate a few things to keep people busy and earn their paychecks, but you are still reviewing and approving everything that comes in and out of your company. Along the way, as you scratch and claw to build revenue and profit, you are a Pioneer who has gotten past the initial hurdles of starting a business and is now foraging through uncharted territory.


Your business has taken root. You build a lean team consisting of talented employees in admin, finance, marketing, sales, customer service, and fulfillment. In this phase, you are: clarifying your Big Picture Vision, leading team meetings, sharing your Big Picture Vision, and collaborating with your team to create systems and processes.

As this is happening at a ferocious pace, you are simultaneously building a company culture and developing its core values. In all likelihood, you still have your hand in most decisions. You continue to review everything and perhaps undo and redo your team’s hard work, causing churn, and communication problems.

Things are pretty frantic and chaotic, and some days it feels like you are a Ringleader directing a circus. Mistakes and miscommunications occur. Your team feels overwhelmed because they are juggling so many things at once and some balls have already fallen.

Not to worry: Being a Ringleader is just a natural development phase that you are passing through.

The 5 Stages of Scaling in a NutshellPHASE 4: YOU ARE THE COCREATOR

It is in this phase that you realize you need to start trusting others so you can remove yourself from the day-to-day tasks. You recruit the best talent and/or promote and train team managers to lead the divisions of your company. You start to let go of reviewing and approving everything, empowering your team members to become solutions-oriented so they can step up as decision-makers. Your department heads stop acting like rule followers. They take ownership of their teams and become leaders.

You have shifted to being a Cocreator with your team. You brainstorm new opportunities and winning ideas. Team members contribute as thinkers versus clones. You empower them and build trust.

In order to facilitate all this, you are coaching and mentoring your leaders to do everything that you do. You are replicating yourself, so you can focus on other business opportunities.


It’s time for you to step back from meetings and resist adding your two cents to every discussion and decision. Lighten up the reins and allow your team leaders to run with their ideas and decisions.

You have superb leaders in place. You have systems and processes that work efficiently and are constantly improving. Your team is accomplishing great things independently because you trained them, trusted them, and empowered them. They are happy and are engaged in their jobs. You are no longer getting in everyone’s way.

Meanwhile, you are the Visionary initiating the next business venture. You are taking Play Days. You are getting closer to achieving your Big Picture Vision.

Congratulations! You have scaled your business.


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