A portrait of Pete Heslop
05 Oct, 2022 4 min read

What Healthy Business Growth Should Look Like

It might be time you stop growing your business. Progression is healthy. Growth may not be.
Two people looking at a board

It might be time you stop growing your business.

Progression is healthy. Growth may not be.

First, if you’re looking for an article on ‘healthy’ yearly turnover growth, I suggest reading this Forbes article.

But in this article, we’re going to talk about three things:

– Why progression over growth?

– Progression targets

– Healthy rhythms

Progression > Growth

Here’s the issue with growth.

Growth is out of your control. Growth is the hungry monster always looking for more-more-more.

With progression, you take ownership of and set goals that impact your business’s health. 

Hear me when I say, we want to see our businesses, clients and team all progressing towards their goals. 


Growth should be the outcome of sustained progression.

Litmus test

A quick exercise: imagine your business in the future; one year, three years and five years.

For each way-marker, list what you would like to achieve. Achievements don’t need to be filtered, arranged or even thought out. Just start listing.

After five minutes, circle the ones that you believe are most important. 

Are they all related to growth? 

It’s more likely that you have a range of goals, including positioning, team, clients, time etc.

Example One

A goal for me this year was to take a week entirely offline. 

Did this help grow Steadfast Collective? No.

Did this help me maintain a healthy mental state? Absolutely.  

Example Two

A goal for Steadfast Collective in 2022 is to become Stripe Certified. Will this help us to grow our revenue? It’s unlikely.

Will it help our developers progress their skills, assist with team retention, and build a healthy relationship with Stripe? Yes, it will.

Two books on a table.

Why does everyone talk about growth?

The more turnover, profit and people you have, the more successful your business is, right?

What if we’ve all been measuring success wrong?

Larger teams and higher turnover do not solve your problems; it changes them.

I’m looking to be leading Steadfast for the long term. Our name, Steadfast Collective, is based on the literal meaning; “staying the same for a long time; not losing purpose”. Our end goal is not to be the biggest; it’s to be here, still loving what we do every day.

The power of progression.

When we stand still, we risk falling behind.

Standing still isn’t an option. 

Our team has to be progressing in their skillset.

Our clients need to be progressing toward their goals.

Our communities need to grow healthier.

When we take steps forward, we further the gap between us and the ledge. This ledge could be the joy of work, cash flow or a relationship, but the idea is the same. The further we can progress away from the ledge, which is the ending of that narrative, the better our chance of longevity.

How we set target outcomes and progress towards them

Each year we set targets for each of the following categories;

Team – Client Success – Community – Ventures – Education – Tech – Revenue


Team Target

1) Benchmark higher in Officevibe scores than industry average

2) Hire a new developer

3) Hire a head of Ops


We then set progression goals which all point towards the target outcome.  


Team progression goals

1) Improve Personal Development Plans

2) Write job description for Ops

3) Implement the Steadfast Way.


Each of these smaller progression goals is a manageable step towards the bigger picture. We store all this information on a Trello board shared with our team, so they can check in and see how the year is going. I report to the team each quarter about our progress on each target outcome.

This system feels entirely sustainable. We set ambitious target outcomes, but more importantly, we take the time to work out the progression goals, which will get us one step closer to them.

Remember, it’s all about taking a step away from the ledge. 

Progression and Positive Rhythms

Positive rhythms, support and communication, are how we foster health; needed as a platform for progression.

No athlete breaks world records while burnt out, lacking a support network, or not setting rhythms. It’s the same for business leaders.

Do you have sustainable rhythms? 

If you need to consistently work 16 hours a day to keep up the pace you’ve set, you’re either overstretching yourself or, frankly, not good enough at your role.

Do you have a support network?

Ensure you have a group of trusted folk around you who will challenge, inspire and listen to you.

Final thoughts

If you think about progression, it’s easy. 

Look at the future and set small stepping stones to get there.

The hard bit? Distractions.