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How to develop a scalable and sustainable foundation for your business

May 23, 2023//by Hutch
How to develop a scalable and sustainable foundation for your business

It’s difficult for small businesses to create a strong and sustainable foundation on which they can grow. When new emergencies and exciting opportunities constantly pop up, it can feel like there’s not enough time to get your business where you want it to be.

That’s why we sat down with Felix Gilbert, CEO of XCell, Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart: HR, and Koffi Harrison, CEO of UpLight. With their combined decades of founder experience, we knew that they would help illuminate some of the struggles entrepreneurs face when vision-casting for their businesses, and how strategic planning can alleviate those struggles.

The struggles they faced while building their businesses

There are countless struggles small business owners face that waste their already limited time. For Joey, Felix, and Koffi some of the issues they experienced were being reactive and thinking short-term, burning out from saying yes to everything, and putting in work without seeing any progress. All of these issues meant that, more often than not, they were working in their businesses, not on them.

Being reactive

For newer small businesses, it can be easier to create short-term strategies and focus on immediate wins, rather than long-term goals. And for Joey, this was definitely the case. “When I started out my small business, there was no such thing as planning ahead long-term,” he says. “It was more about thinking day-to-day.”

But, while a reactive response that focuses on the day-to-day can lead to wins, it can also often leave you wondering “now what?” If you’re failing to strategize long-term, you can get so focused on winning the contract that you’re unprepared for what to do once you have it.

Saying yes to everything

For Felix, building up his small business without a strategic planning framework in place meant he “literally felt like he was a hamster on a wheel.” He was so busy going after “every single government contract that existed,” that he ended up completely burnt out.

Without a clear understanding of your goals and what you’re working toward, it’s hard to know what to pursue. You’re more likely to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. This can lead to wasted time and energy, when those are two things small business owners are already in short supply of.

Working hard without seeing any progress

One of the struggles Koffi highlighted was the amount of time and effort running a small business necessitates. She was “working non-stop for maybe 80 hours a week, but didn’t see any progress.” This lack of forward-momentum can be disheartening, especially when you’re pouring so much time into your business.

When you don’t have clear goals you’re working toward, it can be hard to know what to prioritize. This can then lead to you working long hours on projects that seem like a good idea, but don’t actually move your business forward.

The solution? Strategic planning!

So, how did Joey, Koffi, and Felix fix these issues? They created strategic plans for their businesses.

A strategic plan is designed to help you develop short-term goals to achieve your long-term outcomes. And at Hutch we dedicate an entire session to helping our cohorts create effective plans for their businesses. According to Felix, even years after graduating from the program, he still finds that “many of those goals that we had set in 2019, we’re still executing today.”

With strategic planning, you’ll be able to:

  • Move from being reactive to proactive,
  • Focus on what matters so you can get the best return on your time,
  • Actively work on your business, instead of just working in it.

If you want to learn more about creating a strategic plan, read our ultimate strategic planning playbook.

Become proactive, rather than reactive

By creating your own strategic planning framework, you’ll be able to break down your strategy and mission into digestible milestones that allow you to grow intentionally. This ability to be proactive is a key aspect of growing any business. After all, “you don’t want to be dragged into the future,” says Joey, “you want to create it.”

Know what to say no to

Strategic planning might seem like too much effort, but “by investing the time and creating a strategic plan for your company, you’re not only going to be more focused on the things that you do, but you’ll be more focused on what you say no to,” says Stephanie Chin, Hutch Program Manager.

Felix experienced this first-hand. Strategic planning “helped me scale beyond myself,” he says. And, by making sure “you’re actually running on the right path,” it gives you “the tools and resources you need while on that path.” These tools and resources will help you better align your projects and contracts with your goals and you’ll not only be better prepared to go after the projects you want, but you’ll also know what to say no to.

Make real progress in your business

Without a strategic plan, you’ll have a hard time keeping on track to meet your goals. But, by “staying focused and building where you are and building in alignment with your plan,” says Koffi, “you’ll see the fruits of your labor.”

According to Fearless COO John Foster, what proactive planning “allows companies to understand is when they get off track.” And this “ability to iterate, course correct, and ultimately understand where you are along the journey is equally as important as the destination itself.”

Strategic planning is worth the up-front investment in time

For small business owners, there often aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. And, when you’ve never used one before, it can feel like creating a strategic plan will require too much time for an unknown future reward.

But, while this work will require an upfront investment of time, it will save you time, stress, and headaches in the long run. Plus, by implementing strategic planning early in your company’s history you’ll build behaviors from the beginning that will allow you to grow your business effectively and use your time more efficiently.

Check out our video to hear Joey, Koffi, and Felix discuss their experiences with strategic planning.