Rise to the top
Why do you strive to be better in your business? What is it that drives you?
Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur and agent of change, said in a blog titled The Top 5%:
“In every field, extraordinary benefits go to those seen as being in the top five percent. One out of 20. Sure, the biggest prizes go to the once-in-a-generation superstar. But that’s largely out of reach. It turns out, though, that if you’re thoughtful and diligent, the top 5% is attainable.”
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re not in the top 5% in Financial Planning, and most businesses are not, you can still do well enough. However, if you want to achieve something really fulfilling and fun, the top 5% is a worthwhile ambition. The benefits are far bigger than mere financial rewards.
Find your why
One of the questions I love to ask clients is, “What’s a goal that’s bigger than money for you and your business?” It’s not easy to answer, but if you dig in you can explore the answer and find your ‘why’.
For lots of successful business owners, the goal bigger than money is simply finding out what they’re capable of. They’re also making a difference in their local community, their region, or the world. It’s powerful stuff when you feel it in your bones.
If you can find a ‘why’ that means enough to you, then making it your life’s work to be one of the top five percent sounds like a journey worth taking.
Finding your niche
“The approach is to pick the right set to be part of. Not, “top 5% of all surgeons,” but perhaps, “top 5% of thoracic surgeons in Minnesota.” Be specific. Find your niche and fill it. That’s challenging, because once you set out to be specific, you’re on the hook. The standards are more clear. No room to waffle.”What’s the right set for you to be the top 5% of?
- Top 5% in your local village?
- Top 5% in your region?
- Top 5% of all Financial Planning firms in the UK?
What does that even look like in a Financial Planning business?
Size doesn’t matter
You don’t need to be the biggest to be one of the top 5%. However, I believe that to be considered in that top 5% there are some qualities and skills that you need to possess:
1. Business management excellence
It’s not enough to be a great adviser. If you want to make an impact you’ll need to be a great business manager too.
Great business management is all about the ability to execute on your ideas. Filtering out the crazy ideas, merely distractions from your true mission, and making sure that the golden ideas get built slowly and surely on strong foundations.
2. Marketing excellence
All good firms I know generate a solid lead flow, often without too much specific marketing effort. Great customer service and a passion for service are the sexiest, and cheapest, marketing tools known to humankind.
3. Know who you love to serve
The simplest way to find your niche is to look at your existing client base and identify the clients you love to serve.
I don’t mean ‘like to serve’, or even ‘like to serve a lot’; I mean absolutely love to serve.
Which clients are a joy to work with? Why?
Usually it’s a pleasant combination of:
- Financial complexity in areas you can help with
- A level of wealth that means they can pay well for your help
- They’re nice people who appreciate what you do for them
Who are those people in your client base?
Could you now choose to build a business around those people?
4. Team focus
My favourite business role models all focus on ensuring their team are well supported, and that there are opportunities for them to grow.
Great Financial Planning firms are no different. Happy team members make happy clients, which creates happy shareholders.
5. Never stop learning
Not only do great business owners never stop learning, they are proactive about learning. They stay humble and try to retain a beginner’s mind. Although they may recognise and feel proud of how far they’ve come, or enjoy their mastery over aspects of their job, they never feel like they’ve arrived. They know that allowing those thoughts leads to hubris; the pride that comes before the fall.
How do you become one of the top 5%?
There’s work in it. It’s long term, and to be honest lots of people don’t really want to hear that. They’d be happy to do a few years of hard work to make a fortune. But that’s not usually how it works is it?
Financial planning is a great ‘get rich slow’ business. Overnight success usually takes about 20 years. You build a reputation one small interaction at a time, and can undo it with one poor decision. Clients don’t know that you’re trustworthy until you’ve dealt with them forever.
“The thing is, you’re not competing with the other 19 people, not really. You’re competing with yourself, competing in a journey to determine how much you care about making an impact.”
What’s the impact you want to make? Who for? By when?
The answers to these questions are your goals bigger than money. This is where inspiration and fulfillment are found.
Can you make it to the top 5%?
Let me know how you go.