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Stage 1 encompasses the pre-start-up and early start-up period of a business. A company is started by a founder who is essentially the idea person behind the business. I refer to this person as the “oracle.
In classical antiquity, an Oracle is a person who can see and predict the future. The Oracle of a business is the charismatic and often eccentric person that plays a major role during stage 1 of the business development cycle. He is often ineffective on his own since he is technically focused and lacks the essential business acumen to convert his ideas into a thriving business.
The Oracle is often not motivated by material comforts but tends to be more motivated by the process of idea generation itself. They like to create a new product or service in response to a recognized problem in order to contribute to society.In contrast, a business founded with the sole purpose of making money rarely makes any significant contributions to the marketplace.
The most valued attribute of the Oracle is their vision and ability to get others to see it too. Oracles frequently started out at larger corporations where their creativity was stifled. They often leave corporate life to start their own business because their previous boss would not listen to their ideas.
The Oracles of McDonald’s were Richard and Maurice McDonald. They had the vision that the car culture was coming and built a drive-in carhop restaurant to serve food quickly. They invented the flat top grill and replaced glasses, napkins, and silverware with paper cups, paper bags, and wrappers. They experimented with menu items and finally settled on nine of their most popular items. All their burgers were topped the same way to decrease the time between orders so they could deliver your meal as fast as possible.
Being idea guys, they got bored when they didn’t see any more ways to improve. They did not have the passion or the skills for expansion. Businesses in stage 1 often have one product or service. Survival is the name of the game for these companies. Many businesses remain stuck at this point since it takes a different type of leader to move past stage 1. Moving from one stage to the next is like changing gears in an automobile with a manual transmission; it requires a conscious effort and you may lose a little momentum during the change.
Is your business stuck on stage 1?
Next post in the Series: Stage 2: The Generals of Business