October 11, 2023

Balancing Fast Growth and Slow Purpose: A Navigational Guide for Entrepreneurs

By: Ethan Whitehill

Growing up around sailboats, I learned early on that sailing isn’t just about catching the right wind; it’s also about knowing your destination and keeping your vessel on the right course. Today, as an entrepreneur, I find these lessons more relevant than ever.

Fast growth in the entrepreneurial journey is like a strong wind in your sails, propelling your startup forward. However, it’s vital not to lose sight of your “slow purpose,” your guiding compass, in the quest for speed. Slow purpose isn’t about slowing down, but about making thoughtful, strategic decisions that align with your meaningful objectives.

This alignment ensures that every aspect of growth – each milestone, new customer, or round of funding – brings you closer to your core purpose. It’s the steady hand on the tiller that keeps you on course during the exciting yet challenging journey of rapid expansion.

When making decisions, keep your slow purpose front and center. Each shift in the wind should be evaluated for its potential to advance your organization. If it doesn’t, it might be a distraction changing your heading away from success. Of course, you can always take a beat, get your bearings, and adjust your sails to maintain a purposeful course.

Equally important is the impact of this balancing act on your team. Like a sailboat heeling in a gust of wind, companies that experience fast growth can have stressful moments, but a clear, shared purpose can provide much-needed stability and direction. When your team understands and is aligned with your purpose, it can foster resilience, motivation, and connection, mitigating the anxiety of rapid change and enhancing overall wellbeing.

Balancing fast growth and slow purpose isn’t just about navigating your entrepreneurial journey effectively. It’s also about ensuring your team remains engaged for the long haul, arriving at the destination stronger, more inspired and excited for the next leg of your voyage.

About the author: Ethan Whitehill, President and Chief Creative Officer at Crux, has made a career out of building agencies and growing brands. He founded the firm Two West in 1997, running it as an independent shop for nearly 20 years before combining his firm with an AdAge Top 100 Agency, where he served as CMO. As an agency founder and entrepreneur, Ethan brings a business owner’s mindset to marketing, working on a host of diverse brands, from packaged goods and professional services to hospitality and high tech.

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