The Entrepreneurial Life Cycle

July 23, 2020 / Share:

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In the spring of 2000, I decided to leave my position with a well-respected law firm and start a new company, one that I thought the legal profession needed–one that allows women to stay in the practice and provide law firms easy access to talented, experienced lawyers on an as-needed basis. I’ll admit, I had no idea or inclination about being an entrepreneur or the journey that I was embarking on at that time. 

Twenty years later, a couple things are clear: First, that New Law is alive and well in the legal profession, and second, that I am a classic entrepreneur with a story that many will find familiar.

In October 2019, I joined the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, an organization that my husband and I have financially supported for years, without being quite sure of all it did. We supported it because we saw the value before the EC existed. We knew that entrepreneurs in this community generously gave us their time to help as we navigated our life as an entrepreneur. They guided us, uplifted us, and helped make the journey less lonely. We were those Phase 1, 2 and 3 entrepreneurs once. 

Upon joining the EC, I talked with hundreds of people — entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, alumni, academics and others — to understand the original mission of this organization, the role it plays in our community today, and its purpose looking forward. I wanted to know where there are needs and where we can really help the entrepreneurial community.  

One thing became clear in this listening process: When someone takes the leap into becoming an entrepreneur, they never stop being one. Entrepreneurs are people who are wired to solve problems, to keep moving forward, to have a purpose and vision that drives decisions. 

Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur, whether that means actively starting business after business, or reaching back to help those who are following behind them. 

Through listening closely to many entrepreneurs’ stories and tapping into this organization’s ten years of experience working with thousands of entrepreneurs, we have created the entrepreneurial life cycle, which has four phases to help us as we work to connect entrepreneurs to the resources needed. 

The four phases are:

Phase 1 – Innovate

Develop, investigate, and plan the launch of a business concept. Aggregate the necessary resources for launch.


Phase 2  – Rapid Growth 

Create, launch, and grow a business quickly to achieve growth goals and create a sustainable business.


Phase 3 – Stabilize or Exit

Stabilize business for longer term sustainability and predictable profit generation. Continue to run the business indefinitely or sell it.


Phase 4 – Circle Back

Seed, cultivate, and lead the next generation of entrepreneurs. Contribute to the ecosystem.

This crucial set of definitions affects every aspect of our organization and the work we do. 

As we move forward, it is important that our community know that the Entrepreneur Center is here to support the entire entrepreneurial life cycle. We will continue to listen to the needs in our community. We will continue connecting entrepreneurs with the support they need to increase their chances of success. And we welcome any entrepreneur to join us on their entrepreneurial journey, whatever Phase that may be. 

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