Peeling Back the Curtain on Joorney’s Continued Operational Success
Partner & Director of Operations
Occasionally, I forget just how far I’ve come on my – no pun intended – journey (with Joorney).
I started as a Business Plan Writer in 2014 and here I am, 7 years later, as not only the Director of Operations but also a Partner in the company. It’s been an awesome and wild ride to say the least. The company has grown so much during these years that sometimes I don’t know where the time went.
It seems like yesterday I was one of just four Business Plan Writers. Now, I lead a team of more than 50 and am a key decision-maker in the business! It’s nice to be prompted every now and again to take a moment to reflect on that.
Back in early 2017, after the company successfully completed over 2,000 business plans the prior year, I did an interview with our marketing team – then just one person – about our organizational culture and leadership.
Recently, some questions were posed that got me thinking about the current state of the business, what I’ve learned along the way (and since that last article), and where I think the company is headed.
As a throwback to that first article, I’m once again revealing some behind-the-curtain Joorney insights paired with general operational and leadership advice that’s applicable to any business!
Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a leader?
A: There are many ways to go about making a decision of any kind. If you have plenty of information, you can follow your gut and make a quick decision that allows for immediate impact or you can sleep on it and decide later with a cool head. If you do not have abundant information, you can seek more data or even determine that the time it takes to do so is costly and thus proceed with making a decision based on limited information.
The best approach to making a decision is situational. Once you do make a decision, you should stick with it. Of course, there are scenarios in which new figures or changing landscapes will make it objectively worthwhile to re-examine the entire situation. Still, as a general rule, you have to trust yourself that the decision you made was the best one and allow the aftermath to play out. You should never consider changing course only because of the potential negative outcomes of your decision – because you already took this into consideration when decision-making! This is the biggest lesson I learned as a leader.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: I am certainly most proud of creating – together with the rest of the #JoorneyFam – a stable and scalable supporting structure. When I joined Joorney in 2014, we were in a 100% start-up mode and it seemed as if all we would ever need were Sales Reps to convey our added value to clients and Business Plan Writers to prepare a great product.
However, as we grew, we realized we needed an entire network of supporting roles in the company that are not visible to our clients. Today, there are many examples of such roles at Joorney. We have a Training and Development Manager, who is dedicated to teaching the art of business planning to new writers & people development in the company. We have an entire proofreading team – led by our Supervising Editor – in charge of document quality control, as well as an entire marketing department that supports both our sales and operations. And we have a VP of Business Support who is in charge of our HR and support structure, making sure that recruiting and onboarding, as well as overall internal communication in the company, go smoothly.
The comprehensive organizational structure that we have now was not in our sight at all when we started out; however, it is a pleasure to always plan ahead as much as possible and predict which new roles we need to create and fill to support our continued scaling and growth!
Q: How do you strike a balance between a stable foundation and agility/flexibility?
A: I do not think that there is a need for balance, as I believe it is a mistake to see these as mutually exclusive – you can achieve and have both. In fact, stability is a prerequisite to real flexibility. Having a stable foundation is all about readily available and accessible quality information. If you have the data that allows you to see the entire organizational picture, then you will reach stability. Even if the pieces of your business are placed inefficiently, with proper vision, you will make adjustments as needed.
Real flexibility – and when I say ‘real,’ I mean the one that you will feel entirely comfortable about and that will not disrupt your work – then comes from stability and further use of accessible information. As a leader, if you have the organizational structure planned out, then you can make that structure as flexible as desired and you will still be able to hold all the pieces together. For example, at Joorney we recently implemented a policy stating that each of our colleagues can choose to what degree they work from one of our offices and to what degree they work remotely. And we were able to implement this policy – and not feel threatened by the flexibility – only because we have a stable foundation and quick access to information that allows us to stay organized no matter where each of us works from.
Q: What are the most vital elements for a successful start-up?
A: On the sales side, the most important thing is to bring your product to market as soon as possible. You must be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to create a perfect product from the get-go. As soon as you have your MVP (minimum viable product), get out there and grab your initial clients’ opinion. This feedback is the single most useful piece of data that will allow you to get your product to its final form. Never forget that you can’t get to the finish line without initial clients and their super valuable feedback!
On the operations side, the most important thing is to plan for and build the structure early on. We all want our businesses to grow. However, without a clear operations plan, when you succeed and sales skyrocket you will quickly have an “oops!” moment. Ideally, you should have a plan for not only your projected sales levels, but also for double, triple, and quadruple of your planned sales. This way, you can always adjust & provide the same level of quality and customer service no matter the growth rate!
Q: How would you describe Joorney's culture in just a few sentences?
A: It is certainly a work hard, play hard culture. Pulling a long, 10- or 12-hour work day has never stopped us from playing a couple games of 2v2 in-office foosball. And when we play, we have the same mentality as when we work – we play to win! In fact, recently we played a couple of truly tense and unpredictable games. And not everyone was happy with the outcome!
Q: Where do you envision Joorney in the next five years?
A: First, I see us in Australian beaches and deserts! We are ready to enter the Australian business planning market. COVID has moved our timeline a bit; however, we are still 100% sure that this is the next right market to enter and we expect to work on our very first Australian projects either by the end of this calendar year or, at the very latest, early next year.
Second, I see us working closely with a majority of our clients after they immigrate to the US or Canada. While immigration business planning is still our core business model, we have so much more to offer to ensure our clients’ continued growth! Some clients will need a website for their new business; others will need a market study for a new product line or a pitch deck to raise funds. We offer all these services and I can’t wait to show to more of our clients the quality that we can produce when it comes to post-immigration continued business support!
No matter where Joorney goes from here, what opportunities present themselves, or what new markets we decide to enter, our success will always be rooted in our core strengths fueled by our exceptionally driven and professional team.