12 steps to help grow a better businessArticle added by Maria Marsala on March 4, 2016
Maria Marsala

Maria Marsala

Poulsbo, WA

Joined: September 23, 2012

If your game plan for 2016 includes shifting into high gear, you’re in for a big surprise: Growing is NOT about the next “bling” or even about spending time on social networking sites.

To grow your firm, you need to grow yourself.

It’s helpful to tweak and refocus your firm’s foundation and make it super- strong. Want more clients or more referrals from your clients? Not having enough are symptoms of a weak, inconsistent and crumbling business foundation that often doesn’t have a niche, ideal client profile, or a plan to guide your activities. Working too many hours a week? Productivity down? That’s a sign that you aren’t following a strategic plan.

If you seek to substantially grow, improve or evolve your business in 2016, it’s possible, even probable, that you don’t need to add more marketing, products, services or clients to your firm. Often strengthen the foundation you already have and marketing less by choosing 3 ways to market consistently works so much better! What constitutes a strong foundation? What parts of a business are most of the problems and solutions found in? Here's the recipe for (More) Success

STEP 1: Mindset Shift

Recognize you have a capacity problem. You’re working too many hours and still things are falling through the cracks. Even if you have a team (employees or outsourcers) you have no time to live life to the fullest. Worse, you’re not treating your clients right when you’re rushing through meetings or thinking about other things throughout the day.

Today, make the most important commitment to your firm’s growth and start ceding control to other smart, reliable people. To grow your firm, you must change your mindset and BE an advisor-owner. To start, chances are that your business model doesn’t suit your desired lifestyle and needs to. And you’re doing way too much work that needs to be outsourced.

An activity audit is the first step to take when delegating is a mandatory step to the advisor-owner mind shift. Manage and build a solid business foundation, which will lead to easily attracting new clients.

STEP 2: Assess

Take a snapshot of where your business is right now by honestly rating all areas of it, including business processes, marketing, services, products, systems for marketing, HR, etc. See what gets a hurrah and which areas need your help.

STEP 3: Visioning

A written vision, your succession and somewhere in between is not necessary — it’s mandatory! At the core of your firm is your vision of where you’re going and the business model you’re using. Is your business model still bringing you the life you originally dreamed it would? Is your current business model working? If not, your model needs fixing.

STEP 4: Ideal Client Profile

More than your niche, you need very specific language to describe your ideal clients. Create a one-sheet profile with specific demographics, psychographics, technographics and geographics. Your ICP is not everyone who breaths and has a checkbook. That type of advisor — a wolf or con artist – gives advisors who act with integrity a bad name. Instead, take the time to really “get into their head” and understand everything about your clients. You’ll sound more like the expert and knowledgeable person you are. PLUS you’ll love your clients and spend your time and marketing dollars attracting them.
STEP 5: SWOT

Take a look at your company’s strengths (S) and weaknesses (W), as well as the opportunities to grow (O) and threats from inside and outside your company (T).

STEP 6: Business Monitoring Systems

By monitor what’s working and what’s not working, you will be able to more quickly execute your plan. Monitoring your efforts is very motivating, and it helps you catch mistakes before they become very costly. This includes monitoring your firm’s objectives and action plans daily or at least weekly. Monitor the ways you use your time, blocking out time each day to mail a thank you card, make phone calls, etc. Monitoring forms can be created on paper, using Excel or in an app (application or software, off or online or on your phone). I also have my clients create a lessons learned report to help them now and in the future. The best monitoring systems are those you’ll use! How often? Monitor your goals, strategies, and action plans weekly.

STEP 7: Pricing Sheet

Create a sheet containing your pricing or commission structure. Know what your hourly rate is EVEN if you don’t ever quote it. Know how much profit you’ll make on “x” income from a client. Determine how much acquiring new client costs. All this, of course, is for your internal use only but don’t be afraid to be 100 percent transparent and let your clients see what will cost them what.

STEP 8: Marketing Funnel

Some of the biggest mistakes advisors make revolve around marketing. You need to choose three ways to consistently market. If you have a marketing person on staff, you can even choose five ways. Build relationships with prospects and dive deeper into relationships with your clients who you want to turn into raving fans in your tribe. Since you’re monitoring your marketing strategies weekly, you’ll be able to see what is working and what needs some tweaks or complete changes.
STEP 9: Marketing Calendar

Plan a year ahead. Sure things will come up and then you can look at your calendar and see how those things fit, remove something on your calendar or hire someone to help you to fit more on your calendar. Include both in person and online marketing, PR, networking, advertising and other types of marketing that will help you reach larger numbers of your ideal clients.

STEP 10: Editorial Calendar

Editorial calendars help financial advisors focus on topics that are most important to their ideal clients.

STEP 11: Outsource

You know your strengths and weaknesses. What you don’t do well is a waste of your time to do, don’t waste your time learning how to do it! It’s also a waste of your time to do tasks you can pay someone else to do for less than it would cost you to do. So if you can do accounting, proofreading, blog posts and your own social networking, BUT if you can pay someone less than $150-$400 an hour (the rate per hour you are earning), outsource instead. If hiring an employee scares you, outsource. Everything an advisor might do, someone running a small business can do. Outsourcing is not a dirty word. Top advisors outsource and have great teams of people working for them. Pick the things you really enjoy doing, and outsource the rest.

STEP 12: Systematize

Start with the important processes you do. Create a project map, mind map, worksheet, staff training manual or videos to get started. Ask your team members to document their processes, too. Advisors complain it takes too long to train someone. You’ll cut that training time in half when you have your processes in writing. PLUS I’ve found new employees have a way of finding even better ways to do tasks when they can follow what’s been put in writing for them to follow.

Go for all you wanted your firm to be. You CAN have it all!
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