Inspiring your SaaS team to unlock growth

Gary Vanbutsele
4 min readJan 12


New Year… blah blah, let’s go. Nice. It works for a day or two. But how do you truly inspire your team for growth? How do you make it tangible?

Following a nice little investment round in the business, which I’ll speak more about in the coming months, the team is excited. I also think that at the beginning of the year, everyone is naturally filled with more energy. January has always been the holy grail of possibility.

But there are a couple of ways to intentionally plant the seeds of growth at the start of the year.

Hold a team offsite

This may be a little tricky if you’re all over the world but do something to mark the beginning of the year with an event that inspires your team. Even if you are a remote team, there’s something you can do to mark the occasion.

Actual footage of our offsite while the team was grabbing their am coffee

The first event of the year isn’t just a Khumbaya session; it’s designed to be engaging and really get the team thinking about the year to come. Here was the brief;

Here are the three categories we focused on;

1. The Review

At the end of 2022, each team member was asked to look at 3 things they learned during the year.

During our team meet, we reviewed these figures;

  • MRR
  • Churn
  • Active users
  • And each business unit’s no 1 metric that contributed to the above.

Then we also reviewed

  • Our values

We’ve never wanted our values to be things that are written about somewhere and forgotten (values smalues)

We want them to be lived, and I’ve written before about how we incentivize team members on performance in alignment with the values.

So each member shared the demonstration of the values in their work.

And we reviewed;

  • Our purpose

Our no 1 most listened-to podcast episodelast year was Pepe Marais speaking on “Purpose is your UBER strategy”. But like values, many founders think this is a once-off exercise. It isn’t.

What I ‘get’ about purpose more than ever, is that is has to be lived, breathed, felt and loved throughout. If it isn’t it’s just another fluffy exercise that makes people feel good for 5 minutes.

This year, we’re structuring our meetings and KPI’s around our purpose to make sure we live our talk, nevermind walk it.

2. Create the vision for the future

The future isn’t linear nor predictable and business objectives shouldn’t be either. As a team we agreed on three sets of possible business objectives; good is the minimum to keep shareholders happy. Great beats expectations and amazing means that as a team, we’ll be able to enjoy some amazing rewards.

How to implement it for your team?

Ask each team member to give you their top 3 metrics that will help the business meet their MRR and other objectives.

3. Get buy-in on specifics

As a fun exercise, we actually plugged in some of the team’s metrics (in terms of their objectives) to see what difference it would make to MRR.

As a last step, we asked each member of the team to list 10 ideas to potentially implement during the year.

We worked, using the ICE framework to evaluate each idea and for team members to come up with their quarterly rocks (objectives in EOS language) and amplification projects, outside of their current day-to-day in order to unlock growth (our purpose) in the business and within themselves.

In alignment with what we do (and in the interest of eating our own dog food), they had to be SMART and documented!

The Result?

We came out with fried brains BUT with a SMART approach to Q1 and the road ahead as well as a ton of energy.

To finish off the day, we had a great dinner out.

I hope this starting point for the year, helps you unlock the next level of growth in your business this year!

Until next time,




Gary Vanbutsele

Co-founder and CEO of Whale. Former founder of an IT services company where every day felt like putting out fires. Now obsessed with unlocking growth!