From working in and with advisory firms, as well as researching the challenges encountered while trying to get to the next level of success, a couple of realities stand out to me. One is that there are a lot of things for firms to consider and implement in order to run a successful financial advisory business.
Another is that there is a lot of information available on the subject of building a successful advisory firm- sometimes so much that it is difficult to pull out the most useful information, utilize the information to your advantage and follow through on the relevant information to grow your firm.
One major challenge firms often face is starting and following through on goals, projects and tasks they have identified as important toward reaching a higher level of success. There are always a number of projects that need to get done in order to move the firm forward. To use a football analogy, methodically moving the ball down the field to the end zone can be a challenge for some teams.
Why do some firms seem to continue to grow each year, some dramatically, while others seem to only be able to tread water? How can you break through the “ceiling” you are hitting? How can your firm focus to make sure things are getting done to build a better business in the coming year?
Here is a six step process your firm can follow to achieve the next level of success.
Step One: Create a strategic plan and refer to it throughout the year to guide the firm. This may be updating or revising your current plan. Include in your plan the mission and vision of the firm. Share your plan with your employees. Make sure they understand where the firm is headed, why and how their role is important in reaching the company’s goals, and how they will contribute to reaching these goals.
- Break the goals and tasks into 3 year, 1 year, 3 month, 1 month, and weekly.
- Work backwards from your longer-term goals to the shorter-term tasks.
- Prioritize the projects and tasks.
- Figure out what needs to be completed in the short-term (today, this week, this month) to reach your longer-term goals.
- Work on only a few of the highest-priority projects at a time.
- Most importantly, follow through and keep moving toward your goals.
Have you created a strategic plan and shared it with your employees? Are you and your staff continuing to follow the strategic plan and moving toward your goals?
Step Two: Someone in your firm must assume the role of “Implementer.” The role of the Implementer is threefold: 1) to make sure the correct staff is in place to reach your longer-term goals (Step Three below), 2) to prioritize tasks and projects and ensure progress is being made toward longer-term goals (Step Four below), and 3) to assign tasks and hold staff accountable for completion of the tasks (Step Five below).
This role could be filled by the founder or one of the partners of the firm, particularly when the firm is small. However, as the firm grows, the principal’s time should be more focused on the future direction of the firm as well as servicing current clients and gathering new ones. The CEO’s (Founder’s) time will quickly get swallowed up if they don’t have someone to be the Implementer, leading the day to day operations and being responsible for driving the prioritized projects and tasks.
Consider hiring a COO or General Manager to take on this role if the right person is currently not in place at your firm. You can also outsource this role to someone who can help guide the firm on a temporary basis.
Who is (will be) the Implementer for your firm?
Step Three: Make sure you have the right staff in place to execute your strategy. If you don’t have the correct staff in place to move your firm to the next level you can hire the correct person for the job, shift roles within the firm if the right people are there but are in the wrong roles, or hire an outside firm (consultant or outsourcer) to serve in the role on a short or long-term basis.
Is your current staff in the correct seats to get your firm to the next level or do you need to explore options outside your firm? Are you staying a step ahead by building out your team to handle the growth?
Step Four: Focus on critical tasks and projects that move the firm toward longer-term goals. Identify the most important tasks to be completed and assign priorities. Clarify what needs to be accomplished daily and weekly in order to reach your quarterly and yearly goals. Repeat this step as prioritized tasks and projects are completed. Focus on only the few (1-3) that are top priorities depending upon their complexity and resources used.
What tasks and projects are most important and what needs to get done today (and this week) to move your firm forward?
Step Five: Assign accountability for completing the shorter-term tasks and projects. Assign tasks or projects on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis and make sure the correct person in your firm is progressing on each task or project. Hold each staff member accountable for completing the assigned tasks or project.
Are you holding your staff accountable for their assigned tasks and projects?
Step Six: Measure Your Progress. As you continue to make progress toward completing tasks and projects, monitor your progress and measure where you are at in terms of reaching your longer-term goals. Assess your progress and reallocate or add resources (hire staff or outsource) if needed. Progress and success builds momentum as you move forward.
Are you measuring the progress of your staff toward creating a successful, efficient and effective firm?
Follow these steps and answer the questions in each step to put your firm on the right path and reaching the next level of success you are seeking. I will follow up each quarter-end to see how you are progressing and to help you focus on the next 90 days of success.
Best wishes for a new year full of happiness, success, and big dreams coming true!
Build your business wisely.