There are stages in natural organisms. Plants grow from seed to sprout to plant to seed again. Animals grow from embryo to baby to adult and then become old and die. Cities have been shown to grow to a certain size, but then they need to transform their transportation and other systems to grow to the next size.
The common point is that continued growth requires change. Businesses grow in the same way – from startup to simple (lemonade stand) to mechanical (MBA) to motivated (best of the best). But a business will stall if it doesn’t adapt.
In order to move from the startup to lemonade stand the business moves from searching to selling. Each move from one stage to the next requires a change in attitude and activity.
I recently had lunch with a business owner, Jack (not his real name) who has been running a successful, multi-million dollar business. On one level he is very interested in growing his business. He enjoys his business and has been running it for decades. He uses consultants to improve the business. When I asked what his goals and plans for the business were, Jack told me he wanted to spend more time at his ranch. It was very clear from his answers that he would like to make more money so he could enjoy his ranch, but it was also very clear he was not interested in changing his behaviors in order to grow the business. Over time his business may grow a bit, but Jack’s business is not moving to the next level.