Published January 2, 2019
With the festivities of the holidays behind us, it’s time to start anew. For many independent advisors, that means thinking about their goals for their practice in the new year. But, for the most successful independent advisors, it means creating a business plan that will quantify their goals and then put their plan into action in order to empower them to reach those goals.
But a goal without a plan is merely a wish. It will never happen without the plan. Think of a business plan as the recipe for success for your practice. The recipe has many ingredients and each one needs to be included in order to create a successful and attainable goal. As you’re developing your business plan for your advisory practice, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Your business plan need not be fancy. The most important aspect of the business plan is actually the process for thinking through the plan itself.
- Your business plan may change, and that’s ok. As you achieve your goals or discover what works and does not work for your practice, your strategy will need to be updated with new goals defined.
- Take time to think and research first. It may take a few drafts to reach the desired outcome. Think about who you are serving and what problems you are solving in the goals you’re outlining.
In fact, many financial advisors’ business plans are one-page documents that outline simple goals the advisor wants to achieve over the course of the year. There are many free templates you can find online to assist with thinking through how to structure your business plan. Check out this one-page strategic plan or this business plan template for financial advisors.
What Does a Good Business Plan Include?
The “ingredients” of the “recipe” should be somewhat broad. It’s important to remember that just like advisors are all different, business plans will be as well. But there are some basic ingredients of a business plan that should be consistent. They include:
- Strategic Vision. If you don’t already have this crafted, it is critical you define this for your independent advisory practice. This statement should articulate your goals, deepest ambitions, beliefs, and values. This will be a guiding light in driving you forward to build the practice of your dreams.
- Assessment of Current Situation. Take a hard look at what you achieved in 2018 and determine what worked and what did not work so you can make changes for 2019. This could include human capital that you hired, new revenue sources, referral sources, expenses, and more. Make certain to include where you were successful and want to continue to promote that behavior, and where you may have fallen short of expectations to improve upon.
- Goal Setting. Now that you have assessed the business, it’s time to set the goals. How do you set appropriate goals? Be specific. If you want to grow your practice, make sure to detail exactly HOW you want to grow your practice. Do you want to add new clients that are of a different demographic? Do you want to acquire another firm? Do you want to increase referrals from centers of influence? It will be important to quantify these metrics to make it easy to track your success rate. Determine what measure of increase would meet your expectations of success, as appropriate goals are not only specific, but also measurable and realistic.
- Socialize the Plan. Make sure you take your business plan to all of your core constituents to get their feedback. This could include your client advisory board, your centers of influence, and your employees. It will be important to get everyone on the same page in supporting the plan.
- Put the Plan into Action and Monitor. Once the business plan has been “baked,” it is important to put an action plan into place. This will include a document that outlines the “how” you will achieve the goals along with the person who will be held accountable for making it happen. Monthly and/or quarterly meetings should be scheduled to review the plan and ensure you are meeting goals.
In the weeks to come, I will be breaking down each of the ingredients of the business plan into segments so we can uncover each one individually and focus on a successful execution. But for now, it is time to start putting the proverbial pen to paper and identify what your goals are for the new year.