We have worked with advice firms for over 14 years and in that time, we’ve coached hundreds of Principals and their teams to achieve more from their business. It’s common knowledge to everyone in the profession that there has been constant change over that time and so unsurprisingly, the business strategies that have worked in advice firms have evolved significantly.
I’d go so far as to say that the only thing that has evolved about this one thing is that it has increased in importance – perhaps once a ‘nice to have’ in the past, when you could build a recurring income stream and asset value by simply winning more and more clients; in today’s advice profession, you cannot succeed without this one thing. And if you’re not doing it, you simply won’t succeed in future.
What’s that one thing???
We’re in the throes of finalising our upcoming paper on the Blueprint of Tomorrow’s Successful Advice Firms, where we’re combining our statistical data and hands-on experience of coaching advice businesses around Australia, and sharing the consistent elements of what we see in businesses that are achieving healthy sustainable profits AND personal satisfaction in the current environment. We’ll share what they’re doing now and how they’re planning for tomorrow.
Spoiler alert… there’s a bunch of really helpful guidance in there but the whole paper can be summarised in this one catch-all… that one thing? Is to run it like a business.
What does that actually mean? Like many phrases, there are in fact many things that make up that one thing!
In summary, running it like a business requires intention and attention!
Intention – Meaning to have absolute clarity on your Vision of what you’re trying to build, and to document a long-term Strategic Plan that captures that Vision along with your Purpose, your Values, and the critical factors you’ll achieve over the next 3, 5, 10+ years. This should be followed by a Tactical Business Plan that has the specifics of what growth and development initiatives you’ll deploy over the next 12 months. Intention also refers to the leadership team of a business – to have one, for starters, and to also ensure that the leadership team has clear responsibilities, decision-making rights, and a culture that promotes honesty and shared purpose.
Attention – Rather than being purely focused ‘in’ the business and spending all their time focused on the client work you deliver, the leadership team revisits the intentions and plans on a regular basis. Diarising time each month to focus ON the business, with a structured agenda to review performance and progress on their key projects (even if they do this without a coach), has a dramatic impact on the bottom line AND on the enjoyment that everyone extracts from the business. It’s also important that attention is managed carefully. Successful firms do not get caught out by distractions disguised as opportunities; rather they know who they serve, how they serve them, and only spend time with real opportunities that will achieve their intentions. They stay focused on what will make a positive difference to their business and their clients. They pay attention to market conditions, they watch their productivity metrics, they regularly undertake capacity planning, and they do whatever they can to maximise their productivity to take advantage of the opportunities at hand.
It still surprises us that with the current business environment – where you simply cannot run an advice business in any way other than on purpose – that so many firms have still not documented their business and strategic plans. Don’t fall into the trap of creating wonderful plans for your clients, and then not achieving everything you’re capable of in your own business!
Keep an eye out for when we release the paper, and you can dig deeper into the specifics of the common traits of successful firms. And naturally, if you want to ensure your attention and intention is focused in the most effective ways, reach out and chat to one of our expert team members here – that’s all we do every day, and just quietly…we’re really good at it!