This research identified the critical success factors in the growth of small businesses in South Africa against the theories of small business growth. The study applied both quantitative and qualitative research methodology to identify which factors contributed most to the growth of the sample of 131 small businesses in Gauteng province. This was done by (1) identifying the mean characteristics of small businesses that had experienced their first disruption to growth after establishment, (2) identifying the dominant reasons for the growth challenges, (3) identifying the tools and/or actions employed to transgress the first challenge to growth and (4) comparing these actions to small businesses that had not experienced challenges to their growth. Small businesses facing growth challenges were found to be between one and three years old, have 36 staff, have sales revenue of R13,5 million and sales growing at 25% per annum. The most common mitigation tools and/or actions were to hire more staff, hire competent professional management, source external professional assistance in the form of a mentor and restructure reporting lines. This research found that the focus of small business development should focus on these types of businesses because of their propensity to grow faster and employ more staff. This study also emphasised the growth aspirations of the owner/ manager. Lastly a management model for small businesses was presented.