Popular perception holds that companies must always be growing or theyre dying. Theres either up or down, win or lose, success or failure. I think thats a harmful dichotomy that leads to the death of perfectly viable companies in their quest for constant growth.
Not all companies are meant to have thousands of employees or a billion-dollar market cap. Some companies are meant to be just 10 people or 5 people or just one guy. Thats what their product, niche, or technique is capable of sustaining and theres absolutely no shame in that. Finding your natural size should be a triumph, not a capitulation.
We havent found the natural size for 37signals yet, but I can tell you that its not a thousand people. Its highly unlike to be a hundred. Right now its 10 and its been in that vicinity for quite some time. Our revenues have been more than doubling every year since the beginning, but that probably wont last forever either. Thats okay too!
Chasing growth as an end in itself makes it all too easy to give up optimizing for today: When we break 5 million dollars, well start working less, when were 50 people, well start giving more back to open source. Bah. Growth begets growth and youll end up chasing even bigger numbers and never have the time to do what you really want.
Dont let growth be your primary yardstick of success. You only get to celebrate breaking 5 million dollars in revenue once, taking Fridays off will make every single week a better one. Stop making excuses for why you cant do this or that in the name of growth. Just Do It.