The Life-Cycle Stages of a Business and Analysing Its Financial Health

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If you are a business owner, it’s important for you to know about the business life cycle. You should be aware of the various stages in the life cycle of a business as it will help you to plan for the future.

You can learn which stage your business is passing through at the current time and what to do for improvement.

A business life cycle typically has four stages – startup, growth, maturity and decline. There are several factors to consider as the stage duration varies. A senior leadership course can help you learn more about the life cycle stages of a business and its importance.

Introduction to Business Life Cycle

A business goes through a number of stages over time – startup, growth, maturity and decline. This is called the business life cycle which is a representation of a business’s financial evolution. The duration of each stage is different and each has unique indicators. In some cases, the business cycle has five stages as a complex stage may be split into two. For instance, the startup stage is often split into a development and a launch stage.

There are internal and external factors in the life cycle. A few internal factors are mismanagement of operations, absence of experienced and skilled labour, lack of systematic approach towards error handling, etc. Examples of external factors include customer preferences, sudden natural disasters, market conditions, availability of raw materials, etc.

Being knowledgeable about the business life cycle is essential to gaining advanced leadership skills that can help you guide companies and organisations to success.

Business Life Cycle: Stages

Every business begins with an idea that develops into a business plan and thereby into a functioning business. The business life cycle consists of several stages that have been explained below.


R&D or research and development is the main focus of this stage. The startup stage comprises the services the company wants to sell, the business type, formulating strategies for running the company and deciding the budget for operating the company.

The most important part of this stage is finalising a business model. The future of the company depends on this model.

A significant number of companies fail to progress beyond this stage. There isn’t any cash outflow or revenue visibility during this stage. Seed funding by investors is the source of money. It is now time to launch the business after receiving seed money. A good amount of investment goes into the marketing expenses during the startup stage.


This stage is vital as it sets the business apart from the competitors in the market. Business owners must think about methods for expansion and growth.

Careful thought must be given to raising capital, focusing on customer relations and investing more to grow the business. Owners must use the growth stage to identify areas that can hinder growth or challenge the policies of the company.

Not all businesses reach this stage. Only those who have revenue visibility and market acceptability have the potential to reach the growth stage. This stage is often lengthy as the company focuses on making a sizeable profit. Owners can seek more funding at this stage if they see that their products are performing well.


Companies that reach this stage are well-established in the market. They have dedicated employees along with a strong management team. A large customer base is a prominent feature of this stage. The profits and revenue of a company are at their peak in this stage. Most businesses take several years to reach this stage in the stay here for a long time.

Business owners and think about bringing new products during this stage to increase the cash flow. During this stage, the owners may decide that it's time to sell their stakes and cash out from the company. They spend more time planning for the future as the next stage is ‘decline.


The decline stage comes near the end of the business life cycle. The company generates almost no revenue and profits. Not all companies reach this stage but if they reach the decline stage, then it's the end of the cycle. A few characteristic features of this stage are outdated products and customer dissatisfaction.
When the revenue of a company is declining, the business owner can look for ways to turn it around. If there is no possibility of that, the only path to take is to sell the company or reinvest. The owners should keep in mind that they will have to invest more during the decline stage and selling the company in the future might become even more difficult

Significance of Business Life Cycle

The business life cycle is one of the most important aspects to learn for a future business owner. Here are a few points that establish the significance of the business life cycle.

Companies can take various approaches based on the stage of the business life cycle.

Once you understand the business cycle you can attract more investors for funding your business.

By studying the business cycle you can easily allocate resources according to the stage of your company.

The business cycle helps you to identify the type of risks in business and how you can overcome them. Any business is prone to risk failure more during the preliminary stages.

You can design healthy workplace practices by studying the life cycle. It will encourage the employees to put forward their ideas for the expansion of the business.

Difficulties of Business Life Cycle

The business life cycle is very important. But there are a number of challenges. Take a look at some of these.
The various stages of a business life cycle have different durations which can lead to lengthy time cycles. It might even bring the business to a standstill.

Different stages have different fund requirements. If there is improper funding, it can lead to the downfall of the company.

Even though it's an external factor, you cannot rule out market uncertainty. Customer preference can change suddenly or there might be a number of situations that can lead to stagnation of the company.
If the business idea is irrelevant for the future, it might be difficult to gather investors for proper funding.


It is important that business owners are aware of the business life cycle as well as the various challenges they have to face. The concept of the various stages must be clear in the mind so that they can successfully launch their company with limited hindrances.

At Imarticus Learning, you can apply for the Global Senior Leadership Programme from IIM Lucknow. This IIM course for working professionals will enrich you with new-age skills for leading a company. Enrol at Imarticus Learning today.

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