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Business Plan - Your Ten Year Vision

Writing out your goals is one thing. Establishing a system and framework for accomplishing your goals is crucial to your success.

Objective: As financial advisors we plan our clients long-term financial future every day. So why do we neglect to do it for ourselves and our business. I have asked several financial advisors what long term means. Te answer is usually five, ten or fifteen years that they develop plans for clients. Then I ask, how long is your business plan. If it is not ten years, maybe you don't plan on being in the business that long. I dare you to look at your financial plan and share it with your peers. Then look at your long-term business plan. If you have one, congratulations but if you're like most financial advisors you wrote it a few years ago and never updated it.

As advisors, we develop long term financial plans, and yet, the average business plan for financial advisors is 1- 3 years. Develop your plans as 1 year ( must do) 3 year ( achievable ) 5 year ( goal oriented ) 10 year (long term vision ) If I was to sell you on the benefits of the business plan, it is the projections into the future based on what you know today. The challenge is to think how you can grow and do things differently to achieve higher goals. Start by thinking if you could design your ideal business plan, amazing financial targets, and goals, what would it look like. Then think of a business or advisor that you would like to be like. Think of the possibilities. The limit is only in how much you can imagine. Challenge yourself to become the most successful financial advisor you know, not because of the money you will earn, but the person and advisor you will become.

Strategy: Start today to develop a one year (short term) 3 year, five year and a ten year ( long term ) written business plan for success. Most advisors today love to feel that they are independent and work for themselves, yet they lack the discipline of running a successful business. If you work for a firm, then they have structured goals and targets set for you, and are followed up with on a regular basis. As an independent financial advisor, I know that there is one thing to write a business plan, but being disciplined and accountable for it is another. Make yourself accountable to someone and share your business plan. This may be a spouse, an associate financial advisor, a wholesaler, or someone in your peer group (which we discuss in a later chapter). A business plan has the benefit of creating a blueprint for even greater success.

Grant's Tip: Review each section of your plan each month and set goals for certain months and the year in each category.

When you review each month, make sure you revisit and check off completed goals. Then have ideas to review and develop section. For example, I keep a folder of business planning ideas that I pick up and add it to the file. Each month when I review my month end, I review the ideas that I may implement into my business and the timeframe for completion.

If I see a new software program. I keep the idea for review until I spend the time planned for working on my business, not in my business. Review the ideas with your peer group or people who help you be accountable in the business. Have you ever spoke to someone who said they are busy because it’s month end. Why don’t you have a month end where you review production, business planning ideas, your business and marketing plans and goals. Do you think this exercise each month will bring greater results?

One idea when you are developing your plan is to find a boardroom where you can take each section of your business plan and freely write out the benefits of your business plan. Do this exercise with someone else ( or your peer group) to make yourself accountable and to give you feedback on your process. Remember, success leaves clues. Ask for other successful advisors business plans and invite them to a strategy session with you. Surround yourself with literature on building business plans. The website has hundreds of successful sites devoted to developing business plans and marketing plans. Hundreds of books are written o this topic. Ask your wholesalers or marketing representatives that you work with or even your company for help on this area.

A final note, work on your vision. Here is a story from Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited, that tells you why we ask ourselves these questions. Tom Watson, founder of IBM, was asked to what he attributed the phenomenal success of IBM. He is said to have answered:

IBM is what it is today for three special reasons. The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream—my vision—was in place.

The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done.

The third reason IBM has been so successful was that once I had a picture of how IBM would look when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act, I then realized that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there.

In other words, I realized that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever become one.

From the very outset, IBM was fashioned after the template of my vision. And each and every day we attempted to model the company after that template. At the end of each day, we asked ourselves how well we did, discovered the disparity between where we were and where we had committed ourselves to be, and, at the start of the following day, set out to make up for the difference.

Copyright 2003 By: Jay Conrad Levinson and Grant W. Hicks, C.I.M - Co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing For Financial Advisors ", Trafford Publishing 2003.

You may use these articles in your marketing, newsletters and web sites as long as you retain the copyright information at the bottom, including the link to our web site and inform us where it is being used as well as sending us a copy of the publication.

Always check with your compliance office and or branch manager before implementing any marketing idea. The information does not constitute a recommendation for the sale or purchase of any securities or insurance.

'You’ll go out on a limb sometimes because that is where the fruit is'. Will Rogers