Business development is cyclical – and can be broken down into different phases in which different challenges are posed to the company and its employees:
1. Initial phase
Euphoria and a high level of motivation characterize the initial phase. Cooperation and internal communication are relaxed and informal, the atmosphere is familiar. Usually there are no hierarchies and the decisions are made collegially and mostly by consensus. The group is developing into a team. In particular, the challenges are to develop the identity of the company, to set a clear vision and goals, and to establish collaboration and to position the business in the environment.
2. Revision phase
In the revision phase, the initial euphoria has subsided and the company is facing some serious internal and external challenges. External factors may be that funding expires, the market changes or the business plan can not be implemented as originally planned. Internally, there may be difficulties in dealing with external pressure, collaborating in a team, organizing roles, taking risks, or varying employee motivation. The aim is to deal with possible failures, to review the corporate identity and the business plan with regards to realistic feasibility, as well as to secure the team’s collaboration and the commitment of the employees.
3. Establishment phase
In the establishment phase, first important decisions have been made, certain routines are established and cooperation in the team is clear. First projects are successfully completed. In this phase, the foundations for future cooperation are laid, goals and communication rules are agreed. Often, with this phase, there is some disillusionment recognizing that original ideas and goals were unsustainable or not viable. On a team level some might feel that they had come short. At the organizational level, the common vision and the future strategy are confirmed. The identity of the company is being developed into a viable foundation.
4. Performance phase
In the performance phase, the company moves to day-to-day business. There are established routines for communication, collaboration, leadership and dealing with the environment. The roles are clear. This phase is about keeping up the motivation of employees in day-to-day business, maintaining cooperative and transparent communication, and, most importantly, staying flexible. The focus is clearly on implementing the strategy and achieving the goals.
5. Reorientation phase
In today’s complex and dynamic environment successful companies have to reorient themselves from time to time. On the one hand, this can mean growth, on the other hand, the development of new markets or business areas. A change of strategy is followed by a change of structure. In this phase, it is important to take a look at the achievements: What went well? What do we want to build on? The challenge is to build on past successes, to maintain and develop well-functioning structures and routines, and to pave the way for the future.