Are we too focused on Business Growth?

From my experience there seems to be a disproportionate focus on business growth.

This can be growth in the number of staff, number of customers, subscribers, international expansion, etc.

Growth quickly becomes the key measure of success overshadowing all else and it not only becomes the “end” but also the “means to the end”.

Often leaders who fixate on growth will drive towards this goal hard, stretching resources and systems to breaking point and sometimes beyond.

My contention is the focus for the business should be on business improvement not business growth.

Improvement becomes the “means” towards growth as the “end”.

Improve your business strategy and models, your staff, yourself, your customer service, your products and services, your marketing and sales enablement, your systems, your overall business quality etc, and if you do it right growth will come.

In this way when growth does come you now have a business that can continue to scale up while still delivering a guaranteed level of quality and service instead of a large business that is delivering chaos and uncertainty to its own staff and its customers.

Cover photo by Helloquence on Unsplash.

Emil Moe's photo

If what I need for a good life is A, why should I try to grow after, let's say, reaching 2 x A - twice of what you need. Then you both have your income, maybe for some staff income but you also have for investing in the company and your pension.

What more people should strive to get is improved quality life and more money isn't equal to better life, kinda the opposite. I'm sure you could make a graph that has money as X and life quality as Y, it would go up to a certain amount of money, but then starts to go down again, as more money didn't really add anything to the quality of your life.

Let's say you have a car, what real value does car number 2 add? Nothing to your core quality. You have good spacious, not huge, home, but want more space, what does this add? Again, nothing to your core quality.

It's called ordinal utility:


Paul Watts's photo

I totally agree with this. Has been pretty much life motto and have had this same conversation with some extremely wealthy people I have met over the years.

Just haven't seen it graphed before 😄

Emil Moe's photo

Fun fact is that most economic people (usually those who are wealthy) have had this in the days in university 😉 But I guess if you work with money, there's a risk that (almost) all you have in life is money.

Milica Maksimović's photo

"I want it all and I want it now" is the motto of many inexperienced business owners and managers.

Also, a lot of people live in the illusion that their business can and should grow exponentially all the time. I'd pick slow and sustainable over fast and chaotic on any given day.

Great post Paul 🙌 I definitely agree with everything you said.

Gavriel Shaw's photo

Some might see the measurability of Improvement as being the Growth metric. Myopic for sure, but they'll believe that 'growth' indicates 'improvement'.

Mark's photo

I think it depends on the field.

Some things only become profitable at scale. For others it's hard to stay alive in 8th place (i.e. everyone joins the messaging apps or social networks that their friends are on).

But absent such effects, I agree that stability instead of growth is a fine goal.