10 weekly accountablity questions for independent advisors
By Maria Marsala
Elevating Your Business
While most advisors choose the independent route so they can be their own boss, being independent requires just as much accountability as being employed by someone else. The good news is thatwith just a few, well-placed habits, you won't have to give up your freedom and flexibility as an independent advisor. In fact, you'll enjoy your business more, you'll be a better boss to your team, and you'll reap the profits, too.
Answer the following 10 questions every week to stay focused, accountable and profitable.
1. Where are you prospecting this week, and how much time will you spend doing so?
Think about putting yourself in front of large groups of potential ideal clients or conducting follow-up meetings or calls with prospects you met last week. Determine how much time each week you will spend prospecting and stick to your schedule for three months. Monitor your efforts, then reevaluate.
2. Which clients will you call on the phone this week?
It could be someone's birthday, anniversary or maybe a child's or grandchild's special occasion. It could be a "just because" call to catch up, to update your records or to find out how they're working their plan.
3. Which clients will you mail something to this week?
Find an article, an event that your client may appreciate or a TV show they may enjoy. Think about something they're passionate about (it doesn't always have to be about business). This is a great way to make a client feel special — because you thought about them.
4. Which clients or vendors will you mail a thank you note this week?
Saying "thank you" is always important, and nothing says it better than a handwritten note. Send at least five thank you cards per week. (And you do have a thank you wall in your office, with posted thank you notes from clients, right?)
5. Which clients will you send a birthday, anniversary card and/or a gift to this week?
Your assistant can print a list of card recipients, but you're the one that will write a personal note on the card before it's mailed. You can follow up with phone calls to your "best" clients, too. 6. What three commitments dedicated to growing your business do you need to keep?
Your business development best practices — updating your intake system, designing a marketing calendar, working with your IT person, testing your conference line, reading or listening to a book — are worth the investment of your time each week.
7. What's the most common question your ideal clients asked you last week?
Keep a list of questions that will inspire topics for your blog, an article or an upcoming seminar you're conducting. Ask your team members to tell you what their most-asked question was this week. (Consider having team members write guest articles, too.)
8. Who on your team needs your attention this week?
Each week (or month if you have a small staff), spend some quality time with one member of your team. Get to know this person. Ask about his or her goals, see if there is a project you can help with, ask for suggestions to make things better, or just chit chat. Consider doing this out of the office. Do I hear lunch?
9. What is your team working on this week?
Your firm will go farther if everyone is working toward the same goals. If you have a business and marketing plan, make sure each one of your team members has a part to execute.
10. What do you need to tell your assistant?
Each day, without fail, have a five-minute conversation with your assistant. Double-check your schedule, provide special notes for the day, ask for their comments or suggestions, indicate when you'll accept client calls, etc. An enlightened assistant is your best way to focus each day.
Bonus: Take time for yourself, out of the office, to chill and relax. You may not even plan it, but your best ideas and inspirations may hit you when you're not thinking about business. Include time in your schedule for a bit of solitude, even if it's a walk in the park or a treat at the corner coffee house.