After a critical appraisal of recent research in the field, this paper has argued that reconsideration should now be given to a conceptual framework that represents SME growth as a series of stages of development through which the business may pass in an enterprise life-cycle. In particular, it is believed that some reliance can be placed on the Hanks et al. (1993) stages-of-growth model in the knowledge that, as well as overcoming concerns that such models are frequently not empirically based, it can also be claimed to at least partially answer the most prevalent objections to this type of model that have appeared in the relevant literature. Importantly, the model uniquely incorporates two disengagement (or arrested development) configurations that are frequently observed amongst SMEs – the life-style business and the business electing for capped growth. Furthermore, while predominantly focused upon stages of growth, the model is sympathetic to, or at least not inconsistent with, an alternative gestalts of growth perspective which has recently received some support in the literature.
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