Moving Forward: Mastering Business Management

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The frustrations of business management

Business management; it’s frustrating and annoying.

Why?

Because no financial planner ever said, “I’m leaving this large organisation (whose values I don’t really share) so I can set up on my own and do a whole load of business management.”

You didn’t sign up for this. You just wanted to help people by giving great financial advice.

As many readers know, my wife Debbie is an actor, singer and musician. She’s been performing since she was 13 years old and her great love is musical theatre. If you think business is tricky, you should spend some time around the Arts.

Deb has been immensely frustrated with the direction musical theatre has taken in the last decade. I won’t get into all of the issues she raises, but the bottom line is she feels that to do work she can put her heart and soul into, she’s going to have to create it herself.

That’s a real pain the neck, because she wants to act and sing; not direct, produce, write and cast as well.

Can you see the parallels here to your situation?


Management matters

Most advisers left a place they couldn’t stand to try and do things right. They love the providing advice part (acting and singing in Debbie’s world), but now find themselves hiring, training, writing reports and having to market themselves. What a pain.

Effectively, all advisers running their own show have got to become brilliant business managers. A few find they really love it, and a lot wish they could just get back to giving great advice.

It’s an awful reality, but there’s no way out of it if you want total artistic control of your business (which we all do). Brilliant business management is just an area you are going to have to master, like it or not, if you want to get back to doing more of what you love and are good at.

Why does it matter so much?

I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and the one thing that separates the great from the good is this: “The ability to execute.”

That is, the ability to take an idea and turn it into action or a business process. It’s something that makes a difference to the way the business performs and lets you stick to your knitting as the lead adviser in the business.

It’s so simple, yet to so powerful.


Perfect your process

To make it happen you need a week-to-week business management process that allows you to make progress and to ‘get shit done’. Without that crucial step nothing really changes, and you can literally go months or even years doing much the same thing and getting much the same result.

In a previous blog, Getting On Top Of Business Management, I covered the four key skills you’ll need to master if you want your business management to work. You can check out those specific skills after you finish reading this.


Having a business plan isn’t enough

Having a business plan is better than not having one, but you need a practical link from the planning to the execution, and that’s what good business management is all about.

Debbie believes (reluctantly) that the key to her conundrum is assembling a like-minded team around her. She can hire a director, a writer, a producer etc. That allows her to focus on what she loves and is good at; the acting and singing.

However, the tricky bit is hiring people that share her views and values about the art they’re going to create. The new hires have to believe in the project deeply. They need to want to do it so bad that they can’t not make it.

She’s also clear that she’s not interested in working with any of those people if all they’re worried about is their shot at stardom, or the financial riches that might accrue. It’s got to be heart and soul commitment. Pretenders need not apply.

You’re in exactly the same boat if you’re an owner/adviser that cares deeply about the outcomes you generate for your clients; if things have to be ‘done right’. You can’t just hire other advisers, paraplanners, administrators or even managers to run your show that don’t get it.

It’s challenging. It can be immensely frustrating. However, you can find these like-minded people (refer back to Part 1 in this series on Culture and Values).

Acceptance is the first step in resolving this situation. Then the work can begin to become brilliant at business management.

Trust me. Your tribe is out there.


Just in case you missed them, you can catch the first three articles in my Moving Forward series here: Part 1 on Culture and Values, and Part 2 on People, and Part 3 on Process.

There are six areas that you need to master if you want your business to really move forward:


Business Management checklist:

Give yourself a score out of ten for each of the following statements. The higher your total score the closer you’ll be to perfect business management for growing your business:

1.We have a business plan that captures our long-term vision as well as our 12-month operational plan
2. All owners/directors are clear on the direction the business is heading
3. We set and manage between 3 and 7 business goals per quarter
4. We hold weekly leadership team meetings to discuss and resolve issues within the business
5. All to-dos from the weekly meeting are completed by the next meeting
6. We have a business scorecard/dashboard that we refer to weekly to ensure the business is healthy and on track (and to help identify any issues early)
7. We review our business plan and progress to our objectives formally once every quarter
8. Different teams within the business also hold their own meetings to resolve their own issues (e.g. Administration, Paraplanning)
9. If we turn over £600,000 or more we have a general manager/operations manager in place
10. The owners/directors take their leadership roles seriously and act as role models for the next generation of leaders coming through


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