The last stage of company growth after Wonder, Blunder, and Thunder, is the Under stage. This is the time when the company’s effectiveness wanes and many firms just go out of business completely. A company can fail for many reasons. It can fail to recognize new trends that make their product irrelevant. It can fail due to poor financial management. Its leadership can also fail to plan for the future. Consequently, many companies die and are buried each year.
When dealing with this stage, it is important to realize that sometimes it is healthy for a company to be allowed to die; in some cases it is planned. A case may be a small one-accountant CPA firm with no future succession plan. In that case, it would be wise to sell the business and close shop when possible. Some companies may exist to complete a particular task, and when the job is done, the company needs to end. In each of these cases, it is important to make adequate plans to close the business.
Some companies do not adapt to changes in the world around them. Just think of the changes in how music is delivered. When I was born, records were the rage. Then came the 8-track tape. This was improved with the cassette tape. The first stereo I bought could play records, 8-tracks, and cassettes. I thought that I would never need another system as long as I lived.
But then came the CD. The sound quality was so much better and I thought that this was where all music was going. Now we have iPods and downloadable music that is more convenient and sounds better than any other in the past. Music can be downloaded any time from multiple sources on the Internet, and trips to the record store are obsolete. My kids have more music on their devices today than I ever dreamed could be possible.
If you had a company that just made records or just made cassette tapes and never adapted to new ways to deliver music, you would already have closed your doors by now. Avoiding the “under” stage requires vision and foresight to keep the company out of the graveyard.
Avoiding this stage also requires the company to have some of the characteristics of the other three stages. The firm needs the excitement of the wonder stage and the desire to understand the world around it. They also need to be willing to take the chances and overcome the failures evident in the blunder stage. The company must also capitalize on the victories and make a real difference in their market area.
With proper planning and work, a company can maintain its status as live and vibrant instead of being six feet under and pushing up daisies.