Each product and company develop at different speeds and have unique needs. The timeline below paints a picture of the typical phases of growth for a startup, the resources needed and some of the characteristics at each phase.




During this very beginning phase of the startup life-cycle assess the viability of your business idea. Seek out advice and opinions from as many friends, family members, colleagues, business associates and industry experts as possible. Create a chart with pain points to help explore these new ideas. Consider your entrepreneurial ambition, product knowledge and if there is a large enough target market.

  • Discovery & Ideation
  • Share idea widely
  • Customer interviews
  • Assess market size
  • Begin to develop a compelling value proposition
  • Consider personal goals, financing and risk tolerance

Typical resources needed at this phase:



After canvassing and testing the business idea during the Exploration and Ideation phase it is time to develop a minimally viable product (MVP) and the core founding team. Consider what the product is, to whom you will sell to and the customer acquisition strategy. Develop an early prototype to test organic users. Begin to establish core founders with complementary skills and develop an ownership plan. At this phase be sure to evaluate your idea to determine if there is intellectual property that needs to be protected and file a patent if needed.

  • owner-funding
  • friends and family investments
  • public grants
  • research funding
  • Minimally Viable Product
  • Iterate early and often
  • Get early organic users to validate the idea and market
  • Test user acquisition strategy
  • Intellectual property protection and landscaping

Typical resources needed at this phase:



This phase may be the riskiest stage of the startup life-cycle because its time to launch! Your idea has been canvassed, tested and protected – its now time to launch your startup. Continue to iterate and validate the product based on the product-market fit and initial customer feedback.

  • Implement analytics and metrics to measure product conversion funnels for your new customers.
  • Consider creating a board of advisors which may consist of mentors that have been critical during the early process and business experts.
  • You will likely be hiring your first few employees at this phase, so consider company culture and employee fit.
  • Some company founders and investors decide they are not the best CEO based on their experience and would rather remain as a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or in another position. Be sure to evaluate your skills and the needs of the company for the best fit.
  • Begin refining your presentation/pitch skills for future fundraising.
  • public grants such as SBIR/STTR
  • additional research funding
  • crowdfunding
  • angel investors
  • grants from SCRA and investments from SC Launch, Inc. Learn more about funding opportunities through SCRA’s Entrepreneurial Programs.
  • Product development
  • Product-Market Fit
  • Customer/User Acquisition and conversion funnels
  • First key hires
  • Develop a Board of Advisors
  • Refine pitch skills for future fundraising

Typical resources needed at this phase :



At this phase your company should now be generating income with cash flow improving as revenue begins to cover expenses. Customer retention and growth should be one of the main focuses (of many!).

During this phase finding time to divide between all of the demands – listening to customers, determine new developments needed, measuring the competition, hiring the right people, managing revenue, etc. – will require focus and prioritizing.

  • Clearly define goals, key performance indicators, processes and teams.
  • Ensure everyone is aware of the goals and be as transparent as possible.
  • This may be the phase that you hire a few key executives, as mentioned in the prior phases, hire complimentary skill sets to yours.
  • Begin looking at partnership opportunities to turbocharge growth.
  • investments
  • loans for equity
  • interest or revenue share from future revenues.
  • Learn more about funding opportunities through SCRA’s Entrepreneurial Programs and SC Launch, Inc.
  • Pitching and Fundraising
  • Prioritization
  • Managing Current Customer Needs while Planning For Future Customer Demands
  • Executive Recruiting
  • Seek feedback from Board of Advisors (and keep them updated)

Typical resources needed at this phase:



At this stage there should be a routine to running the company. The right number and type of employees are in place to handle the operations  and the company has achieved great growth that is expected to continue. You may considering plans to expand into other markets or geographies or possibly exiting via an IPO, merger or acquisition. By hiring investment bankers and other service providers you can prepare for these events. You may find that some founders and/or investors make exits while others continue with the company. Be sure to communicate effectively with the board and investors.

  • strategic investments
  • mergers and acquisitions
  • Initial Public Offerings
  • Global Expansions
  • Investor Dividends
  • Exit Strategy and Future Growth

Typical resources needed at this phase: