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on March 29, 2013
I am an attorney and I work with small business owners. I read a lot of business books and I have a very short attention span for those that are spouting a bunch of nonsense or shoot-from-the-hip opinion.

Charlie Gilkey's "The Small Business Lifecycle" looks at small businesses from a brand new perspective. It helps you identify where you are in the growth cycle so that you know what you need to focus on. It starts with the aspirational stage, where he digs into why so many aspiring entrepreneurs never get into the ring, so to speak. He moves on to discussing the early challenges which initial entrepreneurs face, especially when they are starting their first business.

Later chapters cover growth, how to get "unstuck" and how to scale the business once it starts producing revenue and is successful.

No matter what stage you are in, this is a worthy read so that you can understand where you are and where you need to go. More importantly, Gilkey lays out the specifics steps you need to take and what to focus on. I highly recommend it.
15 people found this helpful
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on May 28, 2013
As a business coach specializing in working with the self employed, I know a lot of the 'failures' in small business come about because owners get bogged down on the details. The Small Business Lifecycle helps address that. It takes you off the shop floor and up to the board room (and higher) where you can take an aerial view, not just of the business itself but where you stand in relation to the business.

Some will find reassurance that where they are and what they are going through is 'ok'. Others will get get an 'AHA' moment and some insight into what they need to do next to move the business forward. Other's still will see where they went 'wrong' and have some ideas of how to remedy that.

It's a quick read and though it is very general, I see that as more of a strength than a weakness. Rather than wading through heavier business books looking for answers, it will help the busy business owner work out where they need to focus their energy to move forward. If that requires more learning, they may have a better idea of subject areas to look for books that go into more detail.

The size and style lends itself to an occasional review, making it ideal to re-read for a 'pulse check' ahead of regular quarterly or six-monthly business planning sessions.
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on January 3, 2014
I loved this little book. It put my mind at ease as to the stage of the business life cycle our arts start up is in and challenged/help frame our entrepreneurial practices coming from the arts where 'new, new' is the game.

Charlie has a warm writing voice and a structured summary of each stage that enabled me to communicate the core descriptions/understandings to my busy-headed partner in minutes. This information gave a foundation for a rich, in depth discussion that led to a shared agreement on how we need to proceed this year. How efficient is that????

I will put the stage outlines on our wall to guide us this year so we don't fall into the entrepreneurial trap of following the 'new, shiney thing.'

Thanks Charlie, you've helped a mighty little arts organisation in Australia frame the stage of our development so we can move forward in a united way to enrich little kids' lives.

I recommend this book to all practicing artists who struggle against themselves to make a business of their arts practice and, instead, stay hooked on the dominant practice of confusing the creation of new works with sustainable business growth. Sometimes you just got to hunker down and sell the hell out of what you've got.

The Small Business Life Cycle might help artists understand how we shoot ourselves in the foot by forever staying addicted to start up, exhaust ourselves and never lift into something truly sustainable. More importantly, if you've got the guts to follow Charlie's guide it'll help you make something lasting without forever making something new. Good luck with that one!

Andrea Rieniets
Kids Thrive Inc
Cha Cha Sam
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on April 30, 2013
I'm a longtime fan of Charlie's, so purchasing this book was a no-brainer. This is no reinvention of the wheel, and that's a good thing: in Plain English, Charlie lays out what you can expect to encounter at each stage of building your small business. What was enlightening for me, however, was seeing how I can easily revert to prior stages and then leapfrog to higher stages based on certain events or moments that transform me as a person. Being able to be more in tune with my business as an extension of myself, and break down all these years into actual quadrants and sections was invaluable to me as I could then start assigning those moments and clients and opportunities and failures to their proper places, and rethink the decision process I have for myself.

It's not a linear read in my opinion, it's a primer to help you zero in on all the possibilities and expectations that we small business owners go through, and I couldn't get through any one page without having to put the book down and journal and reflect. Personally, I think if you read it straight through, quickly, you're missing out on a lot of gems - please, go back and read it again.

Not sure where the "sales pitch is" as someone noted - I think that guy read a different book. ;)

As someone who has followed Charlie for years on his blog and through his workshops, I think he's knocked it out of the park with this one, and considering how disappointed I've been by several people I've followed over the years, I'm happy to see that he's stayed consistent with his message and his service, even as he himself has transitioned and grown.
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on May 20, 2013
I just finished reading the Small Business Lifecycle and it completely resonated with me as I'm in that stage 2 / stage 3 area of my own business.

The lifecycle of a small business - specifically the kind that are bootstrapped (think no venture capital or angel investors) - is much different than a conventional business (think tech startups). Small businesses have to go through their own unique challenges. Charlie Gilkey manages to capture the stages of a small business in a succinct way - something bootstrappers can actually understand and apply to their own situation.

The content is fairly theoretical, but I think that's a good thing. If you're expecting a specific 'how to' book or step by step instruction, you won't get it here.

But if you're hoping to understand where you stand as an entrepreneur from the 30,000 foot perspective - something that can help you understand that the struggles you're going through are natural and where to go next strategically - this book will help you.

It helped me at least.

Read it. Learn from it. Share it with someone you know who's trying to hustle or bootstrap a business.
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on April 2, 2013
I've been working with Charlie as my business coach since Dec. 2012 so when I saw a Facebook post that his book was published & available I immediately purchased it. I read the entire thing in one sitting. It's an incredibly easy read and Charlie's style creates clarity on the various stages a small business goes through as well as the challenges and advantages of each stage.

As a small business owner myself it was incredibly easy to identify where I am right now and what stage is next. After reading the book I have ideas on how to maximize where I am now as well as laying the foundation for the next step.

A must read for any small business owner!
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on May 19, 2014
If you've ever started a business -- or even just find yourself having a more entrepreneurial drive than others you know -- I guarantee that you'll relate to numerous parts of this book. Charlie will probably nail exactly what you've already fought through to get where you're at, as well as likely cover where you are RIGHT NOW at some point within these pages.

Having helped small business clients along through every stage imaginable, he knows what we all go through, and delivers some valuable wisdom, holding your hand as you climb the stairs.

Thanks for a great read and loads of valuable tips, Charlie!
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on April 5, 2013
I bought this book yesterday, and read the whole thing last night. Like another reviewer, I appreciate the short length - I'm running a growing business, I don't have time to read long books! I also appreciated the simplicty. The author made his points clearly and well. Business books are often overwhelming and I only read the first couple chapters. We are in the exhausting Phase 3, and I found that each of the strengths, weaknesses, and keys to success were spot-on in describing our growth. I gained practical insight and encouragement for the phase we're in. Each phase included the reassurance that "you're okay...this is not a bad place to be, it's just a natural part of the development." I plan to re-read this book in a few months. We're well on our way to phase 4, and have the personalities and tendencies to make many of the mistakes he warned about. I believe that just reading a few of the warnings, literally just a couple paragraphs, will change some decisions we make in the future and save us stress. I actually just got online to find a paperback copy to share with friends and our manager. (I didn't find one, but I'll keep watching.)
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on April 2, 2013
So here is why this book is awesome for business owners and entrepreneurs. Its short. No, seriously. If you are a business owner you are really busy working in the business. But that doesn't mean that you don't want to keep reading, educating yourself and growing so you can grow your business. Because this book packs really insightful information into a short package, you can actually take the time to read it instead of having it sit on your bookshelf for months like some other books I've purchased in the past few months.

The content is also really on point and actually very helpful and actionable. I thought I was in Stage 2 of business but after reading this I realized that I am squarely in the middle of Stage 3. And that means that all of my feelings of overwhelm and time I've spent setting up processes in my business IS what I am supposed to be doing. It really helped to validate some of the business decisions I've made recently, and its also helped me analyze an investment in my business that I have been considering. And it made me realize that Stage 3 is awesome and that I should take a moment to celebrate.

Lastly, it does provide some caution because there are things that one is tempted to do in each stage of business and Charlie shares why these temptations are bad decisions that could take you off track. This book is obviously written by someone who interacts with business owners at all stages everyday. Understanding the stage that you are in will make it so much easier for you to make good decisions for your business so that you can experience sustainable, long-term growth. I highly recommend it!
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on April 4, 2013
My takeaway from reading about the various lifecycles of a small business is that with a little flexing of your entrepreneurial muscle the next cycle is within reach. I appreciated having the pros and cons of each stage outlined and could quickly identify where my business is and what's next. The book gave me ideas for avoiding the pitfalls as well as ideas for areas that need fixing. Highly recommended reading for solopreneurs and small business owners who crave answers and want to see the big picture of how successful businesses are mapped out. Great contribution to the business community, Charlie!
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