Want a thriving business? Focus on the power of transparency!

Bottom line is that if you're not transparent, you can't grow.

Gary Vanbutsele
4 min readApr 7, 2023

We recently held our quarterly review session with our team. We all came together for the morning for a really great session.

And no, this isn’t a ra-ra teambuilding piece.

This is a piece about transparency in business.

We took an even deeper dive into our typical data-driven approach to our review than ever before. We looked at ALL the numbers. I mean all. Not just revenue but revenue broken down across time. We looked at numbers from customer success to sales to product to marketing.

We’ve had a phenomenal year of growth and will soon be announcing our recent funding to the media (don’t tell!) But we had some great numbers, and we had some numbers that need fixing.

I didn't want to focus on the good or exclusively on the bad. I wanted to paint a holistic picture of where the company is at and our vision for the future.

It’s all about sustainability

In this meeting, as they do, the team began to brainstorm ideas for how we could tackle the numbers that need fixing.

It was fantastic!

By the afternoon session, we’d begun to build up a multitude of ideas with actionable delivery for the next quarter.

I believe that the only way you’re EVER going to build a sustainable business is with a great team. And the only way you’re ever going to get great people to buy into your vision and business is through transparency and accountability.

I’ve thought a lot recently about the Silicon Valley Bank collapse. Given that our headquarters are in Belgium and only know what I do because of the media, I cannot say that lack of transparency was their issue.

I can, however, say that there are certain factors that potentially indicate that transparency was one of the issues.

The bank didn’t have a chief risk officer (CRO) for some of 2022, a situation that’s now being looked at by the Federal Reserve, according to reports. SVB’s previous CRO, Laura Izurieta, left the company in October but stopped performing the role in April. Another was appointed in December. — The Guardian

Were there perhaps specific processes not upheld or not even in place to ensure the financial stability and security of the company?

Were the team members enlightened as to the potential risk? Were customers informed?

All evidence indicates no.

But I also don’t want to write about Silicon Valley Bank.

I want to write about growth.

Our mission is helping clients unlock the next level of growth in their businesses. This isn’t some kumbaya kind of tagline. It’s the truth, and we live it. And we make life harder for ourselves by doing so, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

If you can’t be transparent in your organization, you’re going to limit your growth because its the very act of highlighting issues and being able to face truths that are the stepping stones to continuous improvement.

But this sounds fluffy and you can ask any one of my team members, but I don’t do fluffy. We do fun but we don't do fluffy.

So if this makes sense to you, but you’re wondering exactly HOW to do this in your organization, here are some ways we do this at Whale.

  • During weekly meetings and our quarterly reviews, we take a hard look at the data to tell us what needs work.
  • We hold each other accountable. Where items in our meetings haven’t been addressed, team members are encouraged to ask why and when needed to take accountability on follow-up actions.
  • Rocks are shared across teams. These rocks are completed in order of priority and tied to strategic objectives and metrics in the business.
  • Company-wide dashboard. Every team in the business has access to every other team’s metrics. This is a core part of us working together as a team to contribute to the growth of clients and the business. We know that as we help clients grow, we grow.

But don't take my word for it.

Proof from those who've scaled

The social media management company Buffer has been known for its transparency since its early days. They have openly shared their revenue and user numbers, as well as their salaries and equity formula. This transparency has helped them build trust with their users and attract top talent who value transparency and open communication. In fact, Buffer’s co-founder, Joel Gascoigne, has said that their transparency has been a key factor in their success.

Still not convinced about utilizing transparency in your business?

Marketing software company HubSpot has also been a strong advocate for transparency. They share their company culture deck, which outlines their values and beliefs, with anyone who is interested. They also have a blog where they share their successes and failures, as well as insights into their business operations. This transparency has helped them build a strong brand and attract customers who value transparency and honesty.



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!