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Stage Right Make smarter management decisions by knowing what stage your company's in.

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For Darlene Pinkowski, all the business world's a stage.When she's mulling over strategies for Actoras Consulting GroupInc., the 20-person Schaumburg, Illinois, management consultingfirm she co-founded, a key question is: What stage of growth isthis business in?

At the start-up stage in 1993, Actoras consisted of twoemployees and an idea. At that point, Pinkowski's goal was togive the company a reason for existence. "The first importantstage was picking our strategy," she says, "who we are,where we want to be, how we are going to get there."

The next two years, the goal was to fine-tune marketing andgenerate sales. After that, with revenues growing consistently, thecompany was ready to move into a new phase aimed at increasingcapacity.

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