Q&A: How can understanding your business lifecycle stage be a competitive advantage?

Strategic advice

Advice to elevate your business, from Jason Cagle, head of Industry Specialization and Advisory at Truist Commercial Banking

Headshot of Jason Cagle

Meet Jason Cagle

Jason Cagle is the head of Industry Specialization and Advisory for Truist Commercial Banking. He oversees a team of professionals in debt capital structuring, industry sector advisory, and several national industry verticals. He brings nearly 25 years of banking experience and a passion for Truist’s purpose—to inspire and build better lives and communities.

“When businesses understand where they are in their journey, they have a stronger grasp of how their needs will change as they move through the business lifecycle,” says Jason Cagle, head of Industry Specialization and Advisory at Truist Commercial Banking. “That knowledge gives owners and leaders a competitive edge because they’re better able to anticipate and plan for their evolving needs.”

A key benefit of working with Truist Business Lifecycle Advisory is that you and your team don’t necessarily have to understand where you are in the lifecycle and why it matters—our team brings that knowledge to you. We layer that with a deep understanding of your business and your team, developed over time through candid conversations. The result is custom advice that can give you an edge in a range of areas.

“No matter what stage of the business lifecycle a client is in, we take a holistic view of the needs of your business—and its owners and leaders—and bring a tailored set of solutions that fit those needs, while also setting you up for long-term success,” says Cagle. “Our goal is not just to respond to a current need, but to help businesses prepare for challenges and opportunities that may be coming down the road.”

Here, Cagle shares how Truist Business Lifecycle Advisory can help you exceed your own expectations.

Q: What’s the business lifecycle, and how does it impact competitive advantage?

The business lifecycle refers to the stages a business typically cycles through over time. There are slightly different models and names for the stages. At Truist, we refer to these as early stage, growth stage, established stage, and transition stage. As you shepherd your company through the business lifecycle, your needs and objectives change.

When you understand each lifecycle stage and what to expect, you can be more proactive and holistic about planning, sometimes addressing challenges before they occur. Truist Business Lifecycle Advisory gives you the competitive advantage of viewing present-tense solutions to pressing problems in a larger context—one that allows you to see decisions as opportunities for advancement.

For example, if you come to us as an early-stage business, by the time you’ve shifted into a growth phase, we’ve already helped you lay the financial and logistical groundwork for management changes you’ll need to ensure growth.

We also want to understand what you see as your competitive edge—what you’re providing that sets you apart from your peers. Having that awareness is central to the approach of Truist Business Lifecycle Advisory. We start from there and then build out a unique road map for you.

Q: What sets the Truist Business Lifecycle Advisory approach apart—and how do those attributes help give clients a competitive advantage?

Truist sits at the sweet spot of having the expertise and capabilities of a large national bank and the personal touch of a local bank. We have 14 regions, and in each one we have local relationship managers who serve as boots on the ground for business owners. They bring clients a deep understanding of the nuances and dynamics of their communities.

Having that expertise and capability allows us to deliver guidance in a unified, one-team fashion at any business stage. We focus on what works for our clients now—and provide them with solutions and options for where they can go in the future. Not all banks are organized that way, and we think that’s a competitive advantage for us—and one that we pass on to our clients.

Also, we work with privately held businesses, so the needs of the business and the needs of the owner are often very much intertwined. We refer to that as owner connectedness. Yet, a lot of our competitors don’t think about those two as being connected. We bring together the commercial bank and wealth advisors to try and meet the needs of that entire unit—the business and the owner.

Truist Business Lifecycle Advisory can absolutely solve for a single need or challenge, but unlike a more linear approach, that’s not its primary focus. It’s a holistic, solution-focused, purpose-driven way of fostering long-term adaptability—no matter what the conditions. It takes into account preexisting competitive advantages your business has—like a niche focus or owner expertise—and enables you to build a proactive plan that leverages those strengths to make you more adaptable and less vulnerable to forces outside your control.

“When you understand each lifecycle stage and what to expect, you can be more proactive and holistic about planning, sometimes addressing challenges before they occur.”
Jason Cagle, Head of Industry Specialization and Advisory, Truist Commercial Banking

Q: What’s the first step in helping your clients improve their competitive edge?

Our relationship managers will start by addressing the unique needs of businesses at each stage. For example, early-stage companies are trying to find a market fit for their product, grow their customer base, and manage cash flow. They’re focused on surviving and creating a sustainable business process, stabilizing production and supply chains, and introducing management tools and structure. They’re also focused on expanding staff and professional services as they move toward the growth stage. To set them up for success, we’ll get very specific about budgeting, strategic planning, and forecasting.

When companies enter the growth stage, we’ll have conversations about their growth plans and what they’re seeing from a cash flow perspective. We’ll talk about professionalizing their systems and expanding their management teams. We start talking about budgeting, strategic planning, and forecasting and how you use those tactics to not only run the business but prepare it for future needs.

At the established stage, things are typically humming along rather comfortably—you’re not experiencing rapid growth, and sales may have even tapered off. It’s a good time to continue to evaluate the return on your investment and the profitability metrics of the business. You want to maintain flexibility and be nimble enough to jump on additional growth opportunities. It’s also important for established companies to foster an innovation mindset. It’s easy at that stage to get comfortable, but you’ve got to be a little innovative just to remain competitive—and even more innovative to stay ahead of the curve.

Finally, it’s important to understand that the transition stage doesn’t always mean selling or handing over the business to new management or family members. It refers to any transformation of the fundamental nature of the business—operations, vision, leadership, or anything foundational. That could include a new product development that sends you back into a growth stage again. Recognizing that the business lifecycle isn’t linear—and being adaptable to shifts in the marketplace—can help you think a few steps ahead of the competition.

Q. What’s one key takeaway about competitive advantage that you’d like to share with clients?

In this digital day and age, if you’re not regularly challenging the status quo, and if you’re not constantly innovating, then your competitive edge can fade fast. You have to continually think about what’s next. What is that next opportunity? And if we seize that opportunity, what will that mean for the business? How will it change our needs? What do we need to do to make it happen? What are the trade-offs we need to make to focus on that?

It’s becoming increasingly challenging to plan too far ahead because things are changing at a tremendously rapid pace. We’re all trying to anticipate what’s next, but to do that, we really need to know who we are, what we stand for, and what we want to achieve—not just today but in terms of the big picture.

Truist Business Lifecycle Advisory provides the framework that helps us understand clients and their businesses very, very well. And that’s the foundation for taking all of us to the next level.

What business lifecycle advice can benefit you right now?

Contact your Truist relationship manager to find custom solutions to meet your evolving needs.