Sometimes a task that feels like back-tracking can actually give you the momentum to move forward. Our discussions surrounding succession planning have led many of you to ask some significant questions regarding your business: How are you running it today? How would you want it to run in the future? How do you imagine it will continue to run in the event that someone else takes it over?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might make sense to take a step back and look at your business plan. For those of you who began your businesses without a formal written plan, it’s probably time to put pen to paper and hash out the basics of your business now. Use what you’ve experienced in your business thus far to inform how you see it moving forward.
Consider the following about your business as you are going through the process of creating, reflecting on, or editing your current business plan:
The purpose: Before you begin writing, consider the objective(s) of your business plan. It should outline the business as it runs or as it could potentially run, but not as it will never realistically run. The key to a good business plan is to be objective and realistic in writing it. State what is and what’s possible, not the business that exists in your wildest dreams. Having a clear and well-written plan for your financial advisory business is key to convincing future partners, team members, and others of the value of your business. And it affords you a clear picture of the potential challenges and opportunities your business holds on paper, before you actualize it in reality.
The executive summary: This section contains a ton of information in a short amount of space. It’s your hook, and MUST get people interested. The Executive Summary condenses a lot of other information that comes up in more detail later on in the plan. It should include: a brief description of the company and its objectives, an outline of the services your financial advisory business provides, a well-defined target market and peek at your competition and competitive advantage, and finally an overview of your growth potential and your funding requirements.
The products and services: This is a great place to describe not only what products and opportunities you offer to your clients, but the process by which you do so. This may end up being one of your main differentiators. Consider the processes you have in place that give your clients a different experience than they would have with another advisor. Are these processes clearly outlined somewhere? Are they trademarked and obviously identified as your intellectual property? If not, take care of this immediately. Clarifying these things may take a little more work up front, but it will create some much-needed structure for you, your business, and your clients. As you write out your products and services, know not just what your fees are, but what your time costs. This is especially important for those advisors who do a lot of planning for their clients.
Your target market: Who is the audience for this business? If you’ve been in business for a while you probably have a pretty good idea of whom you serve, but do you see any segment you could potentially hone in on? What clientele are you particularly interested in helping? Where have you found the greatest success or had the most impact? Consider, too, those people who help to get you in front of that audience. At ClientWise we refer to people who act as referrals for your business as your Loyal Client Advocates and Professional Advocates. They make up your center of influence and are a very important part of your target market. They should be considered in this section as well. Also consider the specifics of these groups: Is this demographic growing and continuing to need your services, holding steady in size, or declining? Are they actively seeking out your services or should you meet them at their point of need? Where are you most likely to find them or be connected to them? All of this should be included in this portion of your plan.
We’ll cover more aspects of your business plan in Part II of this blog. The bottom line is that it’s never too late to plan… even if you’re ten years into your business. This “after the fact” planning is something advisors are very familiar with, as many of their clients come in for just this type of service when it comes to their finances. You are as aware as anyone of how beneficial it can be… even late in the game! So have a taste of your own medicine and start planning today! Stay tuned for Part II.
Powerful Coaching Questions from this Article:
- Are any of the elements above things you need to consider more closely for your business?
- How can taking a step back and gaining some perspective give you clarity on challenges you are having in your business today?
- How can it also help you take a step forward in terms of planning for future growth and succession planning?