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  • Jessica Shields

Crushing 2020...Slowly

2019 has been an incredible year for HFA. It was like the first time you rode a roller coaster and then you got off and were kind of amazed you didn’t fall out somewhere along the way. We tripled the size of our team and our gross revenue. We expanded to offer W-2 BAs in 45 states. We’ve written about a dozen training documents. I couldn’t be prouder of our team.


And while we, like most companies, will celebrate this growth, any small business owner will tell you that growing at a breakneck speed is not sustainable. It puts a strain on your team and processes. If I’m honest, everyone on our internal team is dying a little bit. So, we’ve got to slow…it….down. Our goal for 2020 is to grow by “only” 50%. We are evaluating a lot of processes to determine what is working and what needs to be changed or tossed out.




And after a lot of thought, we created 3 primary goals for 2020:

1. Give hugs.

2. Grow smarter (and slower).

3. Get better at saying “no.”


At first glance these might look like strange goals.


Hugs? Really? Yes, really! Let me explain. One thing that we could do better is being physically present with our team members. Our company culture is awesome. I’m not trying to brag. It’s just really fantastic. We have the hardest-working, most team-oriented, results-driven group of people on our team. Not to mention, they are hilarious. And as much as I love our team Zoom calls, my 1:1 meetings with individual team members and our banter in Slack, there’s just something about being able to hug someone in person. So, this year, Alicia (HFA’s co-owner) & I are going to see everyone on our team at least twice in person.



Jessica & Alicia visiting Lori & Corey in Wisconsin

Sometimes I overthink this. I want all of my direct reports together, or better yet, the whole team. But I am realizing more and more that it just works better to let this be more organic. For example, I am Austin-based, and we have someone in Dallas, San Antonio and Shreveport. For a very low budget, the four of us can meet at a coffee shop to have a workday. We don’t have to make an agenda or have a huge dinner. Just breathe the same air and see that they actually do have legs. In our Zoom calls everyone only exists from the waist up.

Our second goal, to grow smarter and slower, comes from a painful realization that despite our company growth, our net profit didn’t increase much at all. In case you didn’t know, I’m an over-sharer.



We have such big dreams – covering 100% of our internal employees’ healthcare, making our company retreats legendary…and if we’re dreaming huge…what if we were able to offer paid vacation time or a 401k match to our BAs? However, all of those things take money. This year, we want to grow our company by 50% with only a 10% increase in headcount, which means everyone will have to handle more business. And this doesn’t mean I want everyone working more hours. So, we are re-working our systems to become more efficient. We’ve had several team brainstorming sessions, in which great ideas have surfaced. And these are already resulting in efficient changes!


Our last goal, saying “no,” is loosely related to the second goal. We have to say “no” to opportunities that do not align with our goal of becoming more efficient.

I have a bleeding heart and Alicia is an eternal optimist. These are overall beautiful qualities I believe. But when it comes to business, they can suffocate your team. We are forever taking on projects to help smaller brands, doing extra work for free and compromising our value in order to meet budgets for clients.


This year we have seen how that affects our team and our profits. No drumroll needed – you already know the outcome of the bleeding-heart syndrome isn’t good in business. So, this year we are going to say more “noes” and save our “yeses” for clients and programs that are aligned with where we feel we should be heading as a business. We want to bring the most value to our clients, without compromising a healthy work/life balance for our internal team. It’s actually harder than I would’ve thought, but I am sure we are on the right path here.


I am so excited to see where HFA will be next year at this time. We are in for a year of transformation. It’s 90% thrilling and 10% terrifying. What goals do you have for 2020 that will push you past your comfort zone onto the path you were meant for?