Today’s guest post comes from Charesse Spiller, founder of Level Best, a virtual process and operations consulting practice based in Houston, TX. Level Best partners exclusively with financial planners and proactively engages with each firm to analyze their current processes, create new systems, and implement them so they can seamlessly scale their business.
Charesse’s experience working with multiple firms across the United States has shown her the ins-and-outs of what makes a financial planning firm successful while drawing key knowledge from three core areas: the financial planning process, the client experience, and technology integrations. Charesse has been invited and spoken at XYPN LIVE, FPA, LPL, and TD Ameritrade National LINC conferences and has been featured on various industry specific podcasts and publications. She holds a Bachelors in Business Administration from Youngstown State University with a concentration on the Certified Financial Planner track.
As 2020 comes to a close, many business owners are looking toward 2021 for a new start. This year has been a rollercoaster in many respects, but it can be useful to look back on what went right (and wrong) during this turbulent time, and set business goals accordingly. Let’s talk about how to set operation goals, evaluate what needs to change, and execute!
Set Big-Picture Goals First
When you set goals for your operation, it’s good to break them into several different categories that make up the “big picture” of your business. Think of these categories as puzzle pieces that create a full strategy to move you toward success.
For financial goals, focusing on revenue and profit is an excellent place to start. Think about whether you want silent growth where you focus on streamlining your processes internally, or if you feel confident that your operation’s structure can support a year of scaling and revenue growth. Remember that it’s okay to take time to focus on streamlining processes, getting your team organized, and eliminating excess expenses before diving into large marketing campaigns to increase the number of households you serve.
Are you still on target for marketing to and signing on your ideal clients? How do you plan to maintain your client retention? Some goals in the new year may include redefining your target audience, focusing on client retention, or increasing the number of assets you manage per current client.
What worked, and didn’t work, for your operation this year? Common areas to focus on are process improvement, employee retention or training, or focusing on who to hire next for your team.
Marketing and Sales
Do you have new marketing initiatives you want to kick off in 2021? Looking to upgrade your sales know-how with training or coaching? After an uncertain 2020, looking to set goals around growth may be an ideal next step for you and your business.
What are your personal goals? Although it seems counterintuitive to talk about personal goals when looking at your operation, it’s important to evaluate what you want to accomplish as part of your lifestyle, and look for ways that your business can help you move the needle.
Evaluate Your Operation: What Needs to Change?
Once you’ve set a few business goals for 2021, you can look toward shifting your operation. Determining what changes need to happen in your business to achieve your goals can be challenging. However, as an operations and process consultant, I consistently see a few key areas where advisors have room for growth. Addressing these spots in your business may help you move toward your big picture goals with ease.
Too often, business owners get “stuck” in the same team structure they’ve always had simply because “that’s how it’s always been done.” The good news is that changing your team structure doesn’t have to mean eliminating team members or their roles. Instead, look toward shifting your organization chart to increase efficiency, and to ensure that the right people are in the right roles.
Technology is another resource that has become overwhelming to many advisors. As part of aligning your business to achieve your goals, I recommend revisiting your tech stack annually. Take time to understand new tech features, and to evaluate whether the systems you use still serve your firm. You may be able to consolidate, or find a new tool that better fits your needs.
The client journey should be efficient and repeatable. If you are not building a business with a repeatable system, it will be challenging to scale. Look to see if your firm is delivering everything promised to clients, and if the services are still being well-received, or if you need to pivot. Client surveys can help you evaluate whether your services still fit the needs of your clientele!
Financial goals that help your business move the needle include:
- Increasing profit or revenue per client.
- Evaluating and paring down expenses.
- Increasing revenue with new client sales.
- Hiring a bookkeeper to track progress and stay organized.
Setting Goals: Implementation
Once you’ve established goals for your operation, I recommend either having your team help you implement them, or seeking outside help. This will help you stay on track, even in busy seasons. It’s also wise to take time before implementing to consider different scenarios where your goals may change, and what you’ll do if you need to pivot. Too often, business owners dive head-first into implementing new goals without a backup plan for when things go wrong. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that remaining flexible and always having a Plan B is the only way to combat the unexpected.
I also recommended finding either an accountability partner, or coach, to help you continually check in and evaluate your goals. While having help implementing is one thing, it’s incredibly valuable to also have an outside perspective on whether or not what you’re doing is still serving you and your business.
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