Discover how this business leader used careful planning to drive new growth for her company and stay true to her mission.

“Looking back, I can honestly say that this business exists entirely by accident.”

This is how Jessica Purdy describes the series of events that led to the creation of FIC Human Resource Partners, a company that offers consulting and practical training in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and workplace culture for businesses of all sizes across the country. That she would end up finding success in the DEI space is not what surprised Jessica—she has always had a passion for issues at the very core of the field—but she had no previous experience in human resources and discovered the industry only after encountering a setback in her professional life.

Toward the end of 2017, Jessica was doing environmental service work in Western Pennsylvania when her company informed her that they were phasing out her position. As she was looking for a new way to pay the bills, she reached out to her network and inquired about potential career opportunities. The first woman she connected with took one look at Jessica’s resume and told her that while she may have no direct experience in DEI consulting, her passion, organizational skills, and eye for policy—the latter two dating all the way back to Jessica’s time in the military—made her a perfect fit for the industry. So, unclear about what the future held but confident in her abilities, Jessica set off on an unexpected business journey.

What started as a one-time gig with an experiential marketing firm during the summer of 2018 led to more work for Jessica, and in late 2018, she made the decision to go all in and start FIC, focusing initially on consulting and working with companies to develop more equitable policies for their workplaces. Following her first few consulting projects, Jessica realized that she had identified a business opportunity for herself; if she expanded her offerings, she could tap into an increasing demand among companies—big and small—for DEI experts who could lead top-down cultural transformations. In the years since, Jessica has added leadership training workshops and cultural audits to FIC’s suite of solutions, working with organizations on both the concept and execution behind their internal workplace policy transitions. Today, Jessica has emerged as a leader in her field and has built a business that delivers on her mission of creating more inclusive, equitable workplaces.

While it may have been chance that led Jessica into her new career, her current success with FIC is anything but accidental. Since starting her business, Jessica has followed a tried-and-true model for growth that has enabled her to manage through challenges and identify new business opportunities in the face of adversity. For Jessica, stability and sustained growth has always hinged on business planning. Throughout her career, she has used careful planning to assess where her company is headed and how she can better serve clients and achieve her mission.

The following three tips reflect the key lessons that Jessica has learned as she leveraged planning as a resource for business growth.

Write down your business plan.

One thing that Jessica wishes she had done when first starting out in 2018 was put a plan for her business down on paper. She was new to the human resources and DEI consulting field and had never owned her own company. She needed structure and a set of goals to work toward in the early days. It wasn’t until sixth months in that she wrote her first business plan, and she recalls that it made all the difference for FIC. In her initial plan, Jessica noted where her business was at the time, where she believed it could go in the next few years, and the core services and solutions that she could realistically provide to her clients to meet her short-term objectives. It wasn’t elaborate, but it was concrete, and it gave her the direction she needed in a challenging time.

She encourages other business leaders to make clear, written business planning a priority, no matter where they are in their growth journey. “Take the time to actually write a plan, even if it’s just a sketch. Having that plan and knowing where you want to be will keep you accountable to your goals.”

Think of your plan as a living document.

Your business plan should serve as a resource to help you stay on track, but it shouldn’t constrain your growth. In her line of work, Jessica has learned that policies put in place for a business today may not work for them in the future—as businesses evolve, their workplace policies need to evolve as well. The same goes for your business plan. Inevitably, as your business progresses, you will face challenges and opportunities that you can’t possibly foresee today. Give yourself the flexibility to revise your business plan and adapt as your circumstances change.

Jessica makes it a point to revisit—and even rewrite—her business plan every three years. “It’s a long enough interval that I can achieve big goals, but it also gives me the opportunity to reevaluate what I’m doing before I go too far down any one road.”

Consider having alternate plans in place for your business.

Jessica’s main reference for her business is her core plan—this document reflects the current state of her business, the products and services that are ready to deliver to her clients today, and the primary business goals that she can most realistically achieve within the next three years. However, Jessica also has secondary plans that she develops on the side that include services, solutions, and new lines of business that may end up as features of FIC in the future. She has found that multiple plans contribute to greater resilience for her business.

Prior to Covid, Jessica’s core three-year plan centered primarily around DEI policy consulting and HR functions for her clients. However, she was also working on a secondary plan that focused on virtual leadership training and workshops. She wasn’t looking to roll out this service in the near term, but when Covid hit and the business world shifted to a remote environment, she turned her focus toward developing this service. In 2021—due in large part to launching these virtual training programs for business leaders—she exceeded her growth projections.

“When the pandemic hit, I already had part of the plan ready for how I was going to adapt.”

The key takeaway for business owners

In the end, the success of FIC Human Resource Partners is a product of the hard work, dedication, and passion that Jessica brings to enhancing workplace inclusivity and building better corporate cultures. Business planning alone isn’t enough; following through on what you put down on paper is the ultimate driver of small business success—and it’s here that Jessica has truly excelled. But having a clear, tangible picture of where her business is now and where she wants to go in the future has helped her stay on track at every stage of her journey.

Looking back, Jessica may reflect that the circumstances that ushered her into the DEI and human resources consulting field happened by chance, but it’s clear that everything since has been achieved through her own design—and the results speak for themselves.

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