Don’t Let Time Be Your Enemy – Take a Moment and Let These Questions Drive Your Business

Article originally posted on From the Corner Office.

Time passes quickly. Indeed, it seems to pass faster every year. Think back. What goals did you have in mind when you launched your practice five, ten, fifteen or even twenty years ago? Some of you will have succeeded beyond expectations. Others will wonder where the years went and will be disappointed with their progress.

Why isn’t everyone successful? One possible answer is that the business is just difficult. There may be some truth to that, but then I’ve had enough conversations with advisors to know that there are a great many success factors that are fully under our own control. Indeed, while I have spoken to scores of advisors who feel stuck at $5MM or $25MM or $50MM after a long career, I have also witnessed advisors grow from very little to $100MM in five years. It can be done. So perhaps it’s worth a small amount of time each year to stop and think about where we want to go and how we plan to get there.

Like anything else, we will only make the effort if it is easy and practical. So let’s run thru a series of simple questions about what we did in 2013 and then think about what we can do better or differently in 2014. Be sure to write down your answers and keep them as a basis of comparison to evaluate your progress through the year and for this exercise next year. This taps into your creative side and can often be a lot of fun!

  • Growing Your Business: Sales & Marketing

    • Who is your target customer? What does he/she look like?

    • What did you do to create awareness about your practice among those “suspects”?

    • What did you do to engage those “suspects” to turn them into “prospects”?

    • How many of those “prospects” did you meet with and convert to “clients”?

    • How happy are your existing “clients”? How well did you serve them?
       

  • Designing Your Business: Growth, Profits and/or Lifestyle

    • How many hours did you spend each week on:

      • Business Development (Sales + Marketing),

      • Existing Clients (Planning + Client Meetings)

      • Investments (Research + Execution + Allocation)

      • Back Office (Account Administration + Reporting)

      • Administration (Compliance + Bookkeeping + Office)

    • Can staff, technology or outsourcing shift the balance of your time towards more value-added functions like Business Development and Existing Clients?

    • What is your competition doing? Do you have the resources to compete?

    • Do you have a continuity / succession plan?

And with that in mind, you may not have a really good idea of where you spend your time. I didn’t. The good news is that there are lots of simple timer software now available that can give you a pretty good idea if used even for just a month. I use Toggl ($5 per month) and discovered that the tasks that I thought were simple, easy and took very little time, took much much longer than I allotted in my mind. No wonder I was always running behind. Now I use it to make sure I am spending enough time on value-added activities like sales.

As you go through this exercise, do not let perfection be your enemy. This is more about direction, the discipline of following through and accountability than about the perfect plan. Indeed, you will learn as you go and are likely to change course based on experience.

You may also be interested in:

3 Ways Account Aggregation Can Help Your Practice in 2014 (Blog post by Cynthia Stephens, VP of Marketing, ByAllAccounts)

Advising Affluent Americans: What the Leading Survey Says & What It Means for Today’s Advisor (Complimentary Whitepaper)  

Take Your Business to the Next Level with Referrals (Blog post by Rosemary Smyth, MBA, ACC, Author)
 

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