Common advisor mistakes that could be hurting your practice
By Paul Wilson
I recently stumbled onto a blog on Forbes by Jason Nazar, CEO of Docstoc, called "8 Major Mistakes Entrepreneurs Will Make In 2013." Not surprisingly, several of them are very applicable to advisors and their practices.
Social media obsession
Number two on the list was "Social Media Over Maturation." As any regular reader of ProducersWEB knows, few issues are more controversial in the advisor world than how — and maybe even if — one should use social media. Some members view social networking as an integral part of an advisor's practice. Others are firmly convinced it's a fad that takes up valuable time that could be spent meeting face-to-face with clients.
According to Nazar, "You're not going to go out of business because you're not tweeting or on Instagram multiple times an hour. Social media is a great platform to engage current customers, but has not proven itself (other than paid channels) to sustainably drive new customers. Make sure you have a kick-ass Yelp profile, monitor and respond to what people say about you on Twitter, post something interesting once a day on Linkedin or Facebook, and stop stressing about missing out on monetizing the social media masses."
While I don’t think even the biggest social media boosters would argue for posting on every networking site several times an hour, he does bring up an interesting point. How often does an advisor's obsession with social media become a distraction, rather than a tool — a way of convincing oneself that you're working when your time might actually be better spent elsewhere?
Besides getting distracted by social media, another common habit is complacency, or, as Nazar defines it, "Thinking You're Good Enough As Is." According to the blog, "If you’re not meaningfully improving your entrepreneurial skills, you’re going backwards. Great entrepreneurs thrive in down markets, and the next few years will challenge the best of us. This is where the herd is thinned, and better stronger businesses are built to last. You may not currently be among the best, but you can get there with some self-awareness and dedication." Countless articles and blogs have been written voicing these very same thoughts. Nazar provides another reminder and a motivational kick in the pants for the New Year.
Technophobia, aka, "Being A Technology Ostrich”
I'm looking at you, insurance professionals. The financial services industry as a whole, and the insurance industry in particular, is notoriously reluctant to embrace technology. As discussed above, this isn't to say that advisors should obsess over every tweet or spend hard-earned cash on each new gadget that comes out. But technology is there for a reason: It makes stuff easier. "There are so many incredible products available to entrepreneurs online, you can’t afford to keep your head in the sand," Nazar writes. Make sure you take advantage of the useful tools that are out there. While it's a bad idea to embrace everything new, it's equally dangerous to reject it all.
Number seven on the list is "Making Excuses Based on the Fiscal Cliff, Debt Ceiling, Tax Policy, Obamacare, or Anything Else from the Government." I have read many pieces already this year voicing similar opinions; basically, it's up to each of us to overcome any regulatory or economic obstacles, real or perceived, that come our way. But I've also read the quotes from John Mackey and Papa John and the countless ALL CAPS RANTS on Internet comment sections by those who don't seem to be taking this advice to heart. To quote the blog again, "If you’re caught up in complaining about obstacles put in your way, you’ll always miss the opportunities you can create."
Ignoring the past
Those of you that were offended by my previous comments about the industry's reluctance to change will like this one. According to Nazar, it's a mistake to not do business like its 1983. That's right, too much "progress" can be bad, especially when it isolates us from one another. "Stop hiding behind your computer!" he writes. "Business is done in person and over the phone, not in the safety of your multi LCD screen fort. We make make fun of our parents’ technological ineptitude but we’re becoming a generation of entrepreneurial wimps, who devalue social skills and real human relationships at our own peril. When it comes to closing a big deal, raising money, or making your team feel special nothing can take the place of good ‘ol human interaction, and actually being good at it." Better?
The world of small business can be a scary place, especially with so much change occurring all around us. But that doesn't change the things that make advisors successful, or those that hold them back. This list alone isn't going to automatically catapult you into the rarefied air of the million dollar producer, but then again, maybe one or two of these ideas will give you a boost. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the list – anything you disagree with? Something you'd like to add?