Five Stages of Small Business (and VFW Post) Growth

Looking at our numbers and trends from growing posts using Memstats on, 20 new members seems to be the magic number posts of all sizes gain in growth years. Not a perfect number but a quick & decent one.

I have a vision for the post that in five years, our new post will have 200 members. We will hit 75 this year. 25 x 5 + 75 = 200 members. 

How can we sustain our member numbers and grow the post by 25 new members a year? 

Considering the “Five States of Small Business Growth,” our Connecticut corporation has moved from Existence (get customers, provide services) to Survival stage (maintain cash flow, finance growth, owner-focused management).

Furthermore, our corporation is headed to the Success stage which comes in two different flavors:

  • Disengagement: status-quo, budgets, and disengaged “owners” [AKA: build dream home, start new business, run for office, play more tennis]
  • Growth: gamble on financing growth, developed managers, strategic planning/forward budgets, active “owners” [double-down, leverage business, grow market share or expand into new markets]

While not perfect, viewing the VFW New Haven as a Connecticut corporation is an applicable perspective. Looking around, I see that most posts are in the Success stage.

In the Success-Disengagement substage, the company has attained true economic health, has sufficient size and product-market penetration to ensure economic success, and earns average or above-average profits. The company can stay at this stage indefinitely, provided environmental change does not destroy its market niche or ineffective management reduce its competitive abilities.

I see many VFW Posts in this stage that are being impacted by environmental change as their membership ages and are not being replaced by Post-9/11 veterans. Because of this, many posts are instead reverting back to the Survival Stage and eventually stuttering their “corporations” when they are unprofitable. 

How can VFW posts “responsibly” navigate these environmental changes? How can we exploit them to instead fuel growth? 

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