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10 Business Management Mistakes Even Savvy Financial Professionals Make. Are You?

By Maria Marsala, Financial Advisors’ Coach, Consultant and Speaker

You may not know it, but your business management routine could be suppressing the success of your firm.  The 10 habits below are notoriously overlooked or underestimated by many Financial Advisorpreneurs.  Focusing on these activities devours your resources, time, and talents.

Could it be that it’s time to change your focus, take consistent action, be more accountable, and produce much better results?  Let’s look at the business killers that could be stifling your success and then actions you can take to change those bad habits and maintain the right focus:

1. Focusing on Fires
Most financial advisors end up focusing on whatever business fires or emergencies come at them in a given day.  Their priorities list makes a quick exit as it flies out the window.

Action: Focus on creating a vision, goals, strategies, and action plan for the next 12 months and begin executing the plan.  (It’s funny how many emergencies cease to be urgent once you’ve defined exactly what’s important.)

2. Focusing on Marketing “Bling”
Bling is the shiny new marketing toy that everyone else seems to be using. There are 100’s of ways to market a financial business.  Copying what works for someone else usually leads to an expensive “Spaghetti Marketing” campaign.

Action: Focus on doing more of what works.  Instead of throwing a new type of marketing at the wall to see if it sticks, create a consolidated marketing plan and calendar.  You’ll use your business plan above to create your marketing plan.  Include no more than 4 to 5 consistent marketing practices that will help you reach the goals defined in your business plan.  Monitor which of these work and adjust what isn’t working.  Test and monitor all current and new marketing strategies in this way.

3. Focusing on a Long “To Do” List
Honestly, you can only “do” so much. Being busy does not equate to being productive.  (The difference?  Being productive brings you closer to your goals.  Being busy brings you closer to insanity.)

Action: Focus on 5 to 9 strategies that will grow your firm this year.  Strategies are the “how” you’ll grow your business.  If you’re a one-person shop, make it 5.  If you have a team, make it 9.

4. Focusing on Your Weaknesses
When you focus on your weaknesses, you spend your time being a frustrated learner and learning should be fun!

Action: Focus on your strengths and pay someone “to do” the work you don’t enjoy or are uninspired to do.  (Forget all the “performance reviews” you suffered through that insist on shoring up your weaknesses–usually to earn a raise or promotion.  You’re the boss now!  Concentrating on your strengths will get you farther–faster.)

5. Focusing on Control
It is expensive to continually learn new tasks so you can “do it yourself”.  Your financial firm is not a home improvement project.  You waste time, spend more money, and make more mistakes when you do everything all by yourself.

Action: Focus on delegation.  Figure out what your hourly rate “should” be.  Then, delegate every task that you can pay someone 50% or less of your hourly rate — even if you can do the tasks well.  Take care of you and grow your business by creating a team of employees and consultants who contribute their expertise to your firm’s continued success.

6. Focusing on the Mass Market
When you market to everyone, you speak to no one.  You won’t stand out in a crowd of financial advisors who are marketing to anyone who breathes.  This also wastes marketing dollars and your precious time.

Action: Focus on marketing to a niche of ideal prospects who value what you offer and are more apt to take your advice and run with it.

7. Focusing on Today Alone
Ironically, many financial advisors make decisions based solely on today and don’t bring their vision of the future into their decisions.

Action: You’ll make better, long-lasting solutions when you focus decisions today, forecast five years from now, and develop a vision of how you will exit your business.

8. Focusing on Features
Prospects don’t hire you based on where you attended school or how many years of combined experience exist at your firm.  When your message is “all about you”, you can’t connect with your ideal clients.

Action: Focus on the benefits and results your ideal clients will enjoy when they work with you.  In your marketing, speak to the things they are interested in: achieving their personal and professional goals, maintaining the lifestyle of their dreams, and keeping more of their hard earned money.  The more specific you can get, the better.

9. Focusing on Cheap Prices
Have you noticed that clients who are always looking for a deal waste a lot of your time?  Do you spend too much time with clients who don’t really merit the extra attention?  Do you have limits set for the number and time spent on free consultations?

Action: Focus on pricing your services “just right” based on the highest dollar amount your ideal clients will pay for them.  Segment or categorize your current clients and establish the kind of “touches” each segment of client receives.  Some may warrant a birthday card sent by your assistant; others, a personally hand-written note and a gift.  Do set limits on your consultations and be clear where “free” ends and “fee” begins.

10. Focusing on What You’ve Been Doing
If what you’ve been doing isn’t getting you the results you desire, then it’s time for some heavy duty changes in your personal and business life.

Action: Focus on taking a fresh look at what you are doing, and if it’s not working, get rid of it!  Ask yourself if you merely have a job or if you’re truly running a business.  You can not grow a business to the next level without growing yourself first.

With special thanks to all my clients who remind me of the basic changes they have made to transform their practices into superb businesses–substantially growing their firms and increasing their profits.

©2013 Maria Marsala guides independent financial advisors to reach their 5-year business and personal goals in 24 months. She is a business coach, speaker, and a former Wall Street Trader. Named one of the Top 30 International Coaching Gurus in 2011, Maria has been recognized as a thought leader whose ideas have been published in Financial Planning Magazine, RIA Biz, Advisor Max, Dow Jones, The Street, Entrepreneur Magazine, and numerous books, trade journals, and magazines. She has authored four business-building workbooks including, Attracting Clients You Love Working With: 6 Steps to a Profitable Client Base.

Get FREE thought-provoking marketing advice and business expansion tools delivered directly to your inbox every two weeks. Sign up here: www.CoachMaria.com


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