When it comes to practice management too many independent financial advisers attempt sporadic half-baked efforts to improve their business, throwing blindly at the marketing and operations dartboards. They approach each day scattered, without clarity on where to focus, spreading efforts too thin. Although busy all day, they end the day questioning whether or not they will ever make progress. They sit on the same plateau, unable to lift their revenues, decrease their exhausting effort, or feel that level of fulfillment they expected out of being an entrepreneur.
While it may sound like an exaggeration, frustrated advisors confess this scenario to me frequently. These are advisors who have good intentions, solid skills, experience running a practice, and no idea what to do to shift their status quo.
Whenever I veer too far off course, I take a step back and assess my Big Picture. I find clarity by answering five key questions. Exploring these questions helps me decide my path for the next 12 months and beyond. With this kind of clarity your wavering and hesitation disappear. Invigoration and eagerness take its place.
If you own your own practice and you’ve put in the effort, but you’re not quite getting out of it what you expect for yourself, I encourage you to get out a pen and paper and find your clarity with these five questions.
(Psst, for best results, let go of a scarcity mindset. It’s time for abundance: approach this exercise with an open mind of what’s possible).
1. What do I want more of?
- Do you want to make more revenue? Do you seek more free time?
- Do you want deeper relationships? A different kind of clientele? A virtual practice?
- Do you want more opportunities to teach? Do you seek education for yourself?
- More engagement in your community? More time to give back?
List out anything and everything that you want to amplify. Your answers will become your priorities and help you laser-focus your actions.
2. What is the annual revenue per client I want to earn?
To increase your revenue and rise from your plateau you have to know what you want to earn. You run a business and that means revenue is an essential element in your success.
How much, on average, do you want to earn each year from each client? Not what you charge now, not what you’ve been earning, but state what you want to earn. And give yourself credit. Do not undervalue your impact. Give yourself credit for the benefits you deliver. Think about what Michael Kitces describes as your worth to the client.
Consider your current practice. Are there clients who pay you the amount you desire and value the work you do for them above and beyond the fees they pay? Is this a client you want to replicate? What is it about that person that is appealing to you? This will become your marketing target market.
Once you set the revenue you want to earn, you can focus your marketing efforts on attracting this hyper-targeted segment of people who finds immense worth in your work. You’ll set yourself up to earn more per client and lessen your workload.
3. Where do I exert the most effort in my business right now?
If you want to lessen the effort of operating your business, you must first identify where you direct your personal resources (time, money, energy, heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears) right now. Think about a typical week or month in your business. List out what you do each day and note the time for each activity. You want an accurate inventory of your resources.
Jennifer Goldman, founder of MyVirtualCOO, in this year’s Implement Now interview, recommends reviewing your calendar to gain insight into where you truly direct your resources. Her advice is to color code the category of each activity you undertake to visually appreciate where you direct your effort:
“Calendars are very telling. Take one month and color code your activities. Sit back, with your month-at-a-glance, and look.” — Jennifer Goldman, CFP®
If you don’t document every minute of your day in your calendar, then spend a week tracking your time. Write down where you direct your effort each day or consider using time tracking software such as Time Doctor. You want an accurate accounting of what happens in your day so you can make choices that align with your answer for #4 below.
4. Where do I WANT to direct my effort in my business?
We all like to do different things in our practice. We each enjoy different facets of the work we do. Where do you want to direct your effort? This may be the most important answer on your path to fulfillment.
List out the 4-5 areas where you want to invest your time, energy and creativity.
The goal is to zero in the activities that are most fulfilling to you so you can structure your day to focus on what matters to you. The other tasks or areas where you currently direct effort can be (1) eliminated if they no longer serve your goals or (2) outsourced to your team or to technology.
5. What’s most important to me outside of my business?
As an entrepreneur you probably feel like I do: I can’t separate all of the parts of my life into buckets; my whole life comes together as one. Feeling fulfillment encompasses all of me. This should be the easiest of the five questions as we all know what matters most to us.
Whether it is quality time with family and friends, music, fitness, yoga, travel, exploration, enjoying your community, volunteering, church, food, wine, time for yourself…write down whatever fulfills you.
This answer is your carrot. Every time you struggle with your focus each day on your bigger business goals (from #1), look to this list. Each task you hand off, each technology you implement to support you, or every create highly targeted marketing effort you complete to increase your revenue, you experience the fulfillment of having more free time (and the money to support you) to pursue what matters outside your practice.
If you’re serious about leaving your status quo behind and reaching that next level of achievement for your financial planning practice, take the time to sit down and think through these five powerful questions. Get clear and structure your actions to support what matters most to you. At the end of each day, you will no longer question your progress. You’ll know.
If you are interested in automating parts of your marketing to free up more of your resources for other areas of your practice or your life, I invite you to check out my free training videos.
This post first appeared on LinkedIn.