The three stages of evolution for forward-moving entrepreneurs

Growing a business sometimes demands that the owner grow as well. The willingness and ability to evolve – in part by embracing change and creating it around them – is an important trait shared by successful entrepreneurs, experts say.

The trick is getting the employees to buy in to the changes and evolve themselves. And if that’s accomplished, then comes the third part in an entrepreneur’s evolutionary cycle – fostering growth for the company’s clients.

“True entrepreneurism means not only evolving as a company, but also helping clients evolve as well,” said Peter J. Strauss (, an attorney, captive insurance manager and author of The Business Owner’s Definitive Guide to Captive Insurance Companies.

“Why would you not want to be the best version of yourself? Whether you’re talking about your own people in your company or your clients, there is this giant middle market that has no idea of their potential. They go to work each day just focused on what they do, but they don’t think about things that could help them better their businesses.”

Strauss reviews the three stages of entrepreneurial evolution, and how personal and team growth can inspire the same evolution within a client’s company:

•Self-admission. “It starts with the owner or CEO’s willingness to fully commit to evolving,” Strauss says. “You have to evolve as an individual before your organization can evolve. The company leader must admit they need help with some areas in order to stay relevant and keep growing.”  Fully exploring the options to seek knowledge and advice on the right direction are crucial. “Eventually you have to trust the guidance you’re getting,” Strauss says.

•Employee buy-in or push-back.  Here the tug-of-war with a company’s future often begins, Strauss says. “You need people on your team who have ambition to grow and want to be part of something bigger than their job definition or personal goals,” he said. “Individual rewards will come as the company prospers from the growth changes. But you do run the risk of losing your core group if they don’t believe in what you’re doing. Most people, even the ones who have been with you the longest, probably won’t like it because most people fear change. It’s a very dicey game to play, but it’s necessary and liberating once the process plays out. It’s classic pain before gain.”

•Applying in-house and to clients. Once the owner knows he has the right people in place, including new hires, he or she has the management team push through the changes. “It doesn’t mean there’s a new sheriff in town, but a new way that’s going to make our company and everybody with it better if they don’t fight it,” Strauss said. “Then you’re able to walk the walk with your clients when you’re helping them evolve. You can provide them with things they can’t build themselves because it’s outside their scope and focus.”

“It’s important, when a business leader is evolving, to see others evolving around them,” Strauss said.

“We can do more for each other, and our clients ultimately can evolve like our business did.”