Is a lack of growth failure?
I find it fascinating that when I’ve asked a CEO why their business exists, or why they founded it, no one ever says “to grow it”.
It’s always about something they saw that needed fixing, or an opportunity to take something they’re good at and do it better, or to create the kind of company they would want to work in, or something similar.
But at some point, growth often becomes the main objective. If the business isn’t growing, and here I mean usually revenue growth, it’s seen as having failed.
Being profitable is vital for business sustainability. That’s not in dispute. But growth every year until the universe implodes? Is that really the key priority?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against growth. Just growth for growth’s sake.
Like for instance…
What if revenue stands still, but team and customers are happier? Or if revenue and profit stay flat, but it’s shed 75% of its negative environmental impact? Or, if we’re to stay with purely financial metrics, if it’s stayed flat at revenue but grown its profitability?
Beyond the Quarter’s growth aspirations are on impact. We have revenue goals – it needs to pay salaries, committed donations, suppliers, costs of business. We have profit goals – both to sustain the business for the future, but also to invest in future areas of impact. But all growth goals are to enable greater impact, which is the ultimate goal.
Yvon Chouinard at Patagonia captures this far more eloquently and succinctly. “There’s a big difference between growing fatter and growing stronger.”
This is an amazing book which I’ve gifted more than most. Chouinard’s writing has also had a really profound impact on the thinking of many of the business leaders to whom I’ve gifted it. A great read (i.e. interesting story), as well as provocative primer for how you might want to lead your business.
Buy it here
Or, only for CEOs or MDs of SMEs with employees and who genuinely want their business to be a business for good, send me a DM and I’ll send you one of the 5 I have in my library as gifts. Unless you’re the sixth – then you’ll just get an apology and the link again!
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