Can you build a great business without losing your soul?

social purpose | FP Advance | Advise Better, Live Better

Do the right thing

Financial Planning ‘done right’ is a thing of beauty. It can transform people’s lives, which in turn can have a major positive impact on society.

Does all of that sound a little too grandiose to you? Is it possible to have a strongly performing business (in the financial sense) without losing your social purpose (or soul) in the process?

Of course it is.

To prove this you don’t have to look much further than some of the best performing businesses in the Financial Planning space. Firms like:

All of these firms are heavily values-based. They know who they are and who they serve. They believe strongly in the social purpose that underlines what they do every day.

If you’re still on the financial advisory treadmill where you work too hard, you don’t have a client list full of ideal clients, and some days you’re not sure if this is the right profession for you, then there are two specific areas you can work on.


1. Get clear on ‘who you serve’

It almost doesn’t matter what stage of development you’re at for this to apply. I’ll cut you some slack if you’re in the first 12-24 months as a start up, but even then, having a clear idea of who you work best with is crucial.

The best firms know who they serve. That will include the obvious things like:

  • A minimum level of investable assets
  • Or a minimum level annual earnings (i.e. the client’s annual earnings in their business, job, or profession)

At the very least it will involve a minimum level of income the client must pay to the firm to ‘get in the door’.

However, knowing who you serve is about the soft facts as well. At The Red House, in addition to some specific minimum criteria, they only work with people ‘that get what life’s about’. They know what that means when they meet a new client. It’s a way of looking at the world.

At Paradigm Norton they have defined their ideal client, ‘Paradigm Pete’, with (last time I saw it) something like 25 criteria for what good looks like.

At FP Advance we want to work with people that are nice. That gets overlaid on top of any other financial metrics we might use.

Love is all you need

It’s vital to get crystal clear on who you want to work with, rather than taking anyone who walks through the door.

Why?

Because that’s how you end up with a business full of clients you love and can help. The joy that comes from that helps you attract more of the same types of clients.

It’s so much easier to go the extra mile when it’s a client you love to work with. Going that extra mile for someone you can’t stand is almost unbearable, especially when the pressure is really on.

Freedom of choice

The beautiful part of running your own business is that ‘you get to choose’ who you work with. Don’t forgo that choice on a day-to-day basis. If you do, every time you fail to make a positive choice you are sowing the seeds of your own unhappiness in the future,.

Don’t believe this small change can make a life changing difference to your business? Just call any one of the firms I’ve listed here and ask. They’ll all tell you it was one of the most important steps on their journey


2. Put hard limits on your time

When there are challenges at work, what do most of us do?

We work harder and often that means working longer hours.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but working harder and longer doesn’t work. I can say that with great authority because I’ve tried it. You might have tried it too and are sitting there wondering why you haven’t quite got to where you wanted to be. Read on.

The only way to break through is to resolve the challenges that arise in your business. However, the tricky part is identifying the real issue, not just the symptom.

The best way to solve this quickly, is to set time limits on the hours you and your team will spend at work. By setting time limits you are forced to choose. You have to consciously decide on what you will do and what you won’t, because you can’t do it all.

Time Matters

The biggest breakthroughs I had in my Financial Planning business in Sydney came after I got married to Deb. There was a two-year period before that, where I was in at 7:30am and often didn’t leave until 7:30pm or 8:30pm. I also worked most Saturdays. After getting married we decided those hours were not going to work for us. We agreed on 8:00am to 6:00pm, which is still a fair day.

What happened was a revelation. At first, I left at 6:00pm whether all the work I wanted to get done was completed or not. Over the ensuing weeks and months it forced me and my team to get smarter. It forced our hand on making choices. As a result we actually started solving the underlying problems that were holding us back.

Prior to that, working longer and harder had simply covered up those issues. For example, rather than identifying a technological solution to improve a process, we just stayed late (and got nowhere).

Don’t do it.

Set some hard limits on your time, then let things blow up for a bit. You can then discuss the issues that cause the blow up as a team, agree on the real issue, and find a solution to it. That’s how you move forward.


Save your soul

So is it possible to have a strongly performing business (in the financial sense) without losing your social purpose (or soul) in the process?

Yes it is, but there are some choices to be made on a daily basis in order to do so. The two ways I’ve outlined above are a great start.

Set limits on who you will work with (who you serve), and set limits on your time spent at work. These are the two fastest ways to build a business that you love without losing your social purpose or soul.

Understand that not choosing who you serve and how long you work for each day, is in itself a choice to remain overwhelmed and to underperform.

Do the right thing for you and your business.


The best part of running your own business is ‘you get to choose’ who you work with.”


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