Stage of the organizational life cycle and competition as mediators of problem perception for small businesses

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An empirical study based upon a sample of 645 small businesses in the US assesses the relationship that life cycle stage and level of competition exhibit with the problems perceived to constrain small business strategic planning. Problems have been identified as either internal (cash flow) or external (competition). They have further been classified as either situational or core problems. Among the most prevalent problems reported by decision makers are customer contact, market knowledge, marketing planning, location, and adequacy of capital. A total of 16 problems were identified. Traditional wisdom offers the scenario where problems faced will vary as the organization progresses through the life cycle. Much of the research refutes conventional wisdom that level of competition was determined to have more of an impact on problem perception.