Looking back at Q1
It might be hard to believe, but we’re approaching the end of the first quarter of 2019 already. If you’re not careful, time will just tick by. So, before the rest of the year rolls on, it’s time to do a quick check-in with yourself. How are you doing so far?
There are four areas I’d like you to reflect on. I find these are crucial to the success of the best Financial Planning businesses.
1. How does your Business Plan feel to you?
This might seem like a strange question to ask, but I’m genuinely interested in how your Business Plan feels.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you by your Business Plan? I’m thinking it should excite you a lot; an 8, 9, or 10.
Does your Business Plan actually capture what you are working toward? Or does it just say what you’d expect a bog-standard business plan to say?
I see too many humdrum or so so Business Plans. Typically they were written at business-planning time, but they are not referred to as a working map for the business throughout the rest of the year.
If any of that is resonating with you I’d implore you to revisit your Business Plan now at the end of Q1 and tart it up. Make it something that you and your team can really get behind.
Helpful questions to bring your plan to life
What’s your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) for ten or 20 years time? I don’t care if you won’t be working in your business in ten or 20 years. You still need a BHAG to generate some excitement, and a little bit of fear. If it’s not scary enough, it won’t motivate you to get out of bed and hit it hard. If it’s too scary you won’t start at all.
What will your business look like in three years time? I don’t mean the turnover number. I mean give me the ten or 20 descriptors that paint the picture of what your business will look like. Close your eyes and see it for yourself. Then write down whatever it is you see.
- We’re in new offices that fit our new brand, positioning, and pricing
- All staff are experts in their role – work never bounces back to me
- We’ve professionally disengaged with any and all clients that no longer fit
- Our marketing works like clockwork and generates a steady flow of on-target clients
2. Are you drifting?
It’s one thing having an inspiring business plan, but the real magic is executing what you planned.
Execution skills are what separate the good from the great.
What you do every day has a direct impact on how your week ends up. What you do every week impacts on whether or not you have a great month, and next few months. What you do every month affects the quality of your quarters, and your quarters add up to the results for your year.
The best firms I work with hold weekly leadership team meetings to check in on progress every single week. At these they solve issues that arise week to week in their business.
The average firms believe they are doing as much as they can do, but the leadership team needs to get together every week to make sure that’s true.
If an airplane is 1% off course, at first it doesn’t seem to make much difference. But after it flies 5000 miles it could end up hundreds of miles astray.
The same is true when it comes to holding weekly leadership team meetings. In the first few weeks and months this difference of approach and attention to the execution details doesn’t appear to matter. However, over six months, two years, or ten years, the great firms end up hundreds of times better off than the average firms.
Without weekly check-ins, you can find yourself drifting. It’s not that you’re not working hard – you will be. But there’s a massive difference between doing a lot, and getting a lot done.
Unsure how to run a great meeting? Check out Gino Wickman’s guide to holding world class meetings at the end of this article.
3. Do you know who you serve?
If you’re not 100% sure of who you serve, then anyone who arrives with enough money might fit the bill.
When you’re starting out that’s fine. However, there comes a point on your journey where I strongly encourage you to dig into your client data, and discover who you work best with. Trust me, the information is in your data, you just need to poke around a bit.
Think about your favourite clients to work with. Get a few of them in your mind.
Questions to identify your ideal client:
- How old are they?
- What do they do for a living? Or if they are retired, what did they do before they stopped working?
- What are their core values? Do they match with your core values?
- What are the technical issues you find yourself dealing with over and over again for these types of clients?
I realise you will have lots of clients who are not necessarily the same as these ideal clients. However, are you a mature enough business to start choosing more deliberately who you take on?
A lot of firms that have been running for decades are still quite passive and reactive as to who they will accept as a new client. I firmly believe there comes a point in the journey where you should be getting clear on who you love to serve, and trying to build everything in your business around serving that type of client.
It simplifies everything and can make your business an absolute joy to run.
4. Are you dealing with the small clients issue?
Following on from my point above, have you identified and disengaged from the clients that just no longer fit the business you have become?
I know this is an emotional issue for most advisers, but it has to be fronted up to and dealt with. It’s just not possible to keep adding clients year after year, and keep delivering as you would like to. Service levels come under pressure, along with your profitability and your sanity if you’re not careful.
While I understand the emotional challenges in disengaging from the smaller clients, I want you to take a minute to picture what your business could be like if you did bite the bullet.
What if you stripped your client bank back to only those clients that really fit? Clients you love to serve and who are at an appropriate fee level to justify the premium service you provide.
If you only served these clients, what do you need in terms of staffing and support? What do you need in terms of office space? Does it simplify your investment proposition and the wrap platforms you would use?
How simple could your business become?
Be sure to check in
Don’t just let 2019 fly by. 25% of it has gone already.
Take a few hours to reflect on the four issues I’ve discussed above. You’ll be amazed how a quick check-in can get you right back on track and firing for the rest of the year.
Let me know how you go.