7 Spring Cleaning Tips for Highly Effective Advisors
By Victoria Bowen
After a long, harsh winter, spring can be a time of renewal for your business. Whether you are newly independent or a seasoned independent professional, your business can always benefit from a good spring cleaning to launch or rejuvenate your business. Here are some action items to help your business bloom.
1. Dust off your business plan. If you're new in business, you probably have a current business plan. But as time passes and your business evolves, it's important for you to review and update your plan to keep your business moving ahead. Those of you who are seasoned independents should revisit your business plan quarterly, if only to remind yourselves of the goals you've set and to benchmark your progress. It is easy to let the day to day minutiae of running a business get in the way. Make the necessary changes or adjustments to get things back on track.
2. Prune your book. Beth Ruggiero, Owner of Climb High Consulting, likens your business to a garden. "Too many clients can restrict an advisor from fully developing relationships, limit root strength to shine and hinder the production of the branches of ancillary business. Use springtime to cull out the dead branches of your book."
She goes on to say, "As an independent, you have the opportunity to sell your book. In valuing your business, the strength and durability of the client base and revenue stream is one of the key factors in establishing a monetary value for your practice in the open market. With an overabundant client base, the advisor may lack time to conduct multigenerational planning or service all clients. Lack of time may also hinder revenue growth or revenue generated on a per-client basis. Pruning your book each spring reenergizes your business and fosters growth of practices and relationships that will positively impact the value of your book."
3. Plant seeds for new relationships (Centers of Influence). With tax season behind us, it's a good time to connect with CPAs and other centers of influence. Developing relationships does not happen overnight, they take time to develop. Take that first step and keep it simple. Take them to lunch to learn more about their business, extend an invitation to a driving range or host a networking event for a local group in your area.
4. Cultivate Rookie Talent. In 2007, Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz pitched a no-hitter. This rare feat has eluded some of the greatest pitchers in history. Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling have come close, but never accomplished it. Young and inexperienced people can surprise us with raw ability. As firms grow, they will have a need for support. Many colleges are now offering curriculums focused on financial planning with students eager for "real world" experience. The pool of college talent is great. Make sure to set expectations for interns and have a clear plan of duties that should involve more than "busy work." Interns won't be creating portfolios or working with top clients, but they can alleviate some administrative work, and client service. They bring a fresh perspective with ideas and suggestions to help your business. You may even develop a future superstar that will become an invaluable part of your team.
5. Give your office a spring cleaning. If you spend half of your waking hours at your office, it should be a clean, welcoming and stress-free place. Clutter causes unnecessary stress and doesn't do much to impress your clients. This is your chance to truly refresh your workspace. We're not just talking about cleaning your keyboard and sweeping out the dust bunnies from behind your computer, although that's a good start. De-clutter your desk. Which items can be discarded, shredded or stored in another location? (Check with compliance first.) Give your office a fresh coat of paint. Install a whiteboard for reminders or to make note of new ideas. Hang a painting or photograph that has meaning or inspires you. Finally, clean up your computer. Clear the desktop of outdated files. Update your virus software. Clean out your email inbox and create systems for sorting, reviewing and responding to emails in a timely fashion.
6. Trim expenses. They may not seem like much individually, but trimming a few expenses can save you a surprising amount of money. Review your monthly charges. Can you upgrade to a more efficient plan that will save you some cash? Can you get a better deal on your mobile phone plan? Are you spending money on things you never use? A subscription to a magazine that you never read? Money saved in these areas can be reallocated for use in other ways, like a client event or the paint and supplies needed to refresh your office.
7. Sharpen your saw. In his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen R. Covey writes about "sharpening the saw," which refers to the practice of self-renewal. What better time for renewal than spring? Many successful advisors invest in their development and education. Here are some suggestions:
· Keep current with the industry; attend webinars and conferences.
· Read books. Make the most of your travel/commute time to keep up on your reading. Get recommendations from Friends and Colleagues
· Work toward a professional designation. The American College provides guidelines for evaluating professional designations.
· Take a course. It does not necessarily have to relate directly to investments or planning, but courses on time management, practice management and relationship management are all important skills to hone when running your business.
"Sharpening your saw" is more than just a business practice. Remember, you are your most valuable resource. Take care of your body and mind. A healthy diet and exercise regimen will improve your energy level and focus. Look for ways to reduce stress. Spend more time with the people in your life who matter most. Go for a bike ride, take long walks, schedule vacations in advance. Enjoy your life!
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