“Business - purposeful activity.”
“Plan - a method for achieving an end.”
— Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary
In the early months of a new year, I have always found it helpful to take a quick reassessment of one's current business plan — to use NASCAR vernacular: Make a goal “pit-stop.” If we agree with the Webster definitions to the left, creating a business plan, in the simplest terms, should be understood as engaging in purposeful activity designed to achieve an end.
Years of performance coaching have taught me that this is a good time to spend 15 to 30 minutes reviewing your comprehensive 2008 business plan and distilling it into a Cliffs Notes-style action plan. Because of my penchant for high-touch/low-tech, I refer to this exercise as the “back-of-the-envelope business plan drill.”
The reasoning behind distilling the business plan into a simple back of the envelope formula is that otherwise you may not be able to keep it at the forefront of your daily thoughts. Quite frankly, this is an exercise in goal-focused discipline. If your goals are easy to understand — which they should be — and at the forefront of your thinking, you should be able to recall them in your sleep.
BACK-OF-THE-ENVELOPE BUSINESS PLAN DRILL
Step 1: Write out the major objectives that when completed will allow for the successful accomplishment of your long-range and near-term business plans. Your long-range objectives should look three to five years in the future, and your near-term plan should address the year ahead. For example:
Long-Range Goal: $3 million in production, $400 million in assets, 90 percent fee-based assets and 100 households.
2008 Goal: $1.5 million in production, $250 million in assets, 70 percent fee- based assets, 15 new households with $2 million to $3 million, and more than $30 million in new assets.
Step 2: List, in order of priority, the core activities (five to seven) you need to execute on a daily basis. These activities are not all-inclusive, but they may serve as catalysts for other activities. Writing out these individual activities will help you find the daily discipline to achieve your goals. I refer to them as your “fixed daily activities.” For example:
Fixed Daily Activities:
Talk with five key clients.
Set up one client meeting.
Conduct one client meeting.
Uncover one prospective name for future introduction.
Ask to be introduced to an affluent prospect.
Meet face-to-face with an affluent prospect.
Obviously your list of fixed daily activities will be an incomplete list. The objective is to use whatever fixed daily activities you write on the back of your envelope as your “critical path” for achieving goal-focused discipline. For instance, I know from working with, and training rainmakers, that when an advisor is able to uncover a name for a future introduction (from talking to a key client, COI, CPA, JD, etc.) this leads to another high-impact activity: Circling back at the appropriate time, arranging an introduction, and meeting face-to-face with an affluent prospect.
This critical path is not meant to be a detailed action plan; its purpose is simply to remind you to complete goal-focused activities every day. Similarly, the abbreviated versions of your long-range and annual goals are not designed to replace thorough business planning. The objective is to make certain your “envisioned future” is imprinted on the canvas of your mind.
And The Final Step:
Step 3: Place your back-of-the-envelope business plan where it is visible at all times when you are at your desk. There is nothing like a visual reminder to strengthen your goal focus and discipline.
The future is now for those who are disciplined and goal focused. The stars are truly aligned for financial advisors; you are in the midst of the greatest transference of wealth in history. Over 50 percent of the baby-boomers are in their prime earning years and are thinking about retirement. Almost 93 percent of America's top-income quintile are composed of self-made businessmen and women, and these are the kinds of people who recognize the need for the services of a “go-to” financial advisor (coordinator).
Use your envelope to help you capitalize on this opportunity!
Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.