Stages of Business

No matter the industry, all businesses go through five distinct stages—each with a unique problem. It can be easy to get stuck in one stage when you don’t have a plan to move your business forward. To help, we’ve outlined the main action step, key problem and focus areas for each stage so you can overcome challenges and level up your business.

Stages of Business: Stage 1


The majority of your business results are generated without you.

Stages of Business: Stage 2


Your team is aligned and engaged in a shared direction.

Stages of Business: Stage 3


You have a leadership team that is executing a plan to scale your business.

Stages of Business: Stage 4


You and your team have a relentless culture of getting better.

Stages of Business: Stage 5


The business is successfully running without you.

The Ramsey Way of Doing Business

For 30 years, Dave Ramsey has worked to create a company of unified team members with self-employed mentalities who love what they do. He has handled his money well and set the business up for success. And he's achieved some big goals along the way. If you follow the Ramsey way of doing business, we know you can create the business you’ve always dreamed of—just like Dave did.

Dave Ramsey

Stage 1: Treadmill Operator

Do you feel like if you took a day off, nothing would get done? If so, you're a Treadmill Operator. Every business starts here, and it truly feels like you’re running on a treadmill and not making any headway. In this stage, it’s crucial to make the most of your time so you can go from working in your business to working on it.

Key Problem: Too much of your business relies on you.

What Winning Looks Like: The majority of the business results are generated without you.

Focus Areas:

  • Time Management
    Don’t let your lack of time ruin your business and your life. Take control of your schedule so you can focus on what matters most.
  • Delegation
    Letting someone else do something you’ve always done is scary. But when you master the art of delegation, you can get back to the important work of growing your business.
  • Hiring
    Finding the right people to join your team can be stressful, but when you actually get the right people in the right seats on the bus, it’s a game changer.
  • Budgeting
    Just like you have to have a plan for your personal finances, you have to have a plan for your business's money—otherwise, you’ll be left wondering where it all went.

Stage 2: Pathfinder

In this stage, you probably spend your days putting out fires. And it’s hard to know if your team is working on the right things with everyone running in different directions. When you reach this stage, you have to learn how to stop herding cats and start getting your team aligned.

Key Problem: You lack clear direction for your business.

What Winning Looks Like: Your team is aligned and engaged in a shared direction.

Focus Areas:

  • Mission
    Discover the why behind your company so you can build a purpose-driven business.
  • Vision
    Cast a vision worth reaching for so your team knows what they’re working toward.
  • Core Values
    Uncover the heartbeat of your company and define the values that will determine how you and your team work.
  • Role Clarity
    Make chaos a thing of the past by defining roles and responsibilities for you and your team members.
  • Communication
    You might have to say things over and over again until people understand, but effective communication is essential to keeping your team on the same page and moving in the right direction.

Stage 3: Trailblazer

So your business has taken off and you have some traction, but you still feel like you’re constantly reacting to problems instead of thinking about the big picture. It's time to write down a plan for where you want your business to go, intentionally develop a leadership team, and put routine processes in place so you can scale.

Key Problem: You lack the plan and leaders to scale your business.

What Winning Looks Like: You have a leadership team that’s executing a plan to scale your business.

Focus Areas:

  • Strategic Planning
    Create a plan for where your business is going in the next year and what it will take to get there.
  • Leadership Development
    Get your leadership team on the same page with weekly meetings, and start growing leaders who can make decisions the way you would.
  • Culture
    Create a healthy company culture where every team member actually wants to work and has a self-employed mentality.

Stage 4: Peak Performer

In this stage, your business is running like a well-oiled machine, and you’ve got a team of leaders who can finish your sentences. Now you’re wondering if they even need you. Spoiler alert: They do! It’s time for you to reengage, recommit to your mission, inspire your team, and maybe try something new.

Your Key Problem: Your business is too comfortable.

What Winning Looks Like: You and your team are relentlessly committed to improving.

Focus Areas:

  • Mission, Vision and Core Values
    Recommit to your mission, vision and values, and inspire your team to keep working toward your goals.
  • Leadership Development
    Make sure your leadership team is still on the same page and dedicated to growing the company.

Stage 5: Legacy Builder

Whether you're ready to sell your business, pass it on to your kids, or retire, your work isn't done yet. Now your focus is on transferring ownership and setting up your succession plan so you can leave the business in great hands.

Your Key Problem: You don’t have a succession plan for your business.

What Winning Looks Like: The business is successfully running without you.

Focus Area:

  • Planning for the Future
    Ensure you’re working with the right people and have a plan in place to transfer all aspects of your business to new owners, including leadership, financial, legal, reputation and brand.
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