Companies that are willing to make hard choices and act on them are able to come out of the cowboy stage into maturity. They are the organizations that are able to grow and thrive.
What is the Cowboy Stage?
In a series of books, John Eldredge goes through the stages of a man’s life. And the stages of a man’s life are not very different than the stages of a business’s life. The vulnerability that a person can have during their infancy is similar to the vulnerability a company can have. That is, a company in its infant stages. But if a company persists through infancy and adolescence, it gets to what Eldredge would call the cowboy stage. In the cowboy stage, the people who began the business may start feeling their oats. They were successful, and they may have been successful despite themselves. They were able, through grit and determination, to take a company from nothing to where it has gotten today. I find that a lot of companies are stuck in the cowboy stage. This is the stage where they figured out how to do something. They are able to earn a living for themselves and maybe several people within their organization. Although, they do not necessarily have the skill sets in order to move to the next level.
How Do You Move Out of This Stage?
There is a skill set to move out of the cowboy stage and into something much more refined. Those skill sets that take a company from a $5 million or a $10 million organization to a $50 million organization are often very different. And the things that got you here will not necessarily get you to the next place. It is important to find those items that are needed in order to move on and push on from the cowboy stage. Then you will really mature as a company. The companies that are willing to make hard choices and do hard things are able to come out of the cowboy stage and into maturity. Those companies can continue to grow because they are willing to adapt to the process and strategies that will get them to the next level.
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