Happy New Year! Well not quite yet, but now that Labour Day is behind us, many advisors are turning their attention to the upcoming new year. They’re taking stock of what happened this year and beginning to plan for the twelve months to come.
Effective planning requires that you take a step back from the daily operations of your practice—put aside the problems, large and small, that you normally focus on—and instead refocus on the larger, more strategic issues critical to your business.
When you change your viewpoint like that it can be helpful to look at your practice from three different perspectives. Each of those lenses will give you new insights into what you can do over the next year to take your business to a new level.
Lens #1: Time
Most of us, necessarily, spend the majority of our time thinking about opportunities or problems that will affect us today, this week or this month. But when you think about your business from a longer-term point of view, you will see things in a higher level, more strategic light.
Stretching your time horizon means starting your planning process by defining your vision for your practice. Thinking about where you want to be in three or five years allows you to expand your vision and make decisions about the big issues facing your practice, your market and the industry.
A vision statement describes everything you can imagine about the state of your practice 3-5 years from now. It gives you a target to aim for. If it is widely shared, understood and acted upon it makes daily decision making easier for all staff.
Lens #2: Technology
Take time to step back and think about how technology could help you find new efficiencies in your practice and remove roadblocks that hold you and your staff back from operating at the highest level of your capability.
To see how technology might help, gather your staff and review each of the processes that drive your business. Consider that we tend to approach sales, marketing, and operational processes the same way year over year. But if you were to reimagine each of these processes from scratch you might come up with a very different approach. For instance you could find efficiencies in your marketing processes by using technology to template more of your communications and automate the steps each required to email, call and meet with prospects. Each time you automate a step you free up time you can spend on higher value activities.
When looking at your business through the lens of technology, look for new tech that can help you achieve the goals you set out in your vision. But also invest time in learning how to better make use of the tech you already have. Look to your tech partners for training events and webinars. Perhaps you could define a new strategic opportunity, then work with your vendor’s support people to see how their tech can automate and improve results.
Take time to step back and watch this webinar to think about how technology could help you find new efficiencies in your practice and remove roadblocks that hold you and your staff back from operating at the highest level of your capability.
Lens #3: People
Lastly, look at your business from the point of view of its most crucial component—your people. Think about your talent pool over the long term. If you are planning to grow, identify if you will need another assistant or a junior advisor. Consider what needs to be done to find, hire and onboard the great people you’re looking for.
Also, think about the training and support you could offer current staff to help you meet your practice objectives. Step outside the day-to-day running of the business to spend time each week coaching your staff. Help them better understand what you want long term. Look for roadblocks and obstacles that are holding them back—things you can remove. Listen, and give them feedback. Spending regular time coaching your staff will make them feel more engaged and they’ll be more likely to go the extra mile for you and your clients.
Stepping back and viewing your practice through the lenses of time, technology and people can have a dramatic effect on your business. It will give you a broader perspective and encourage you to think and act more strategically. You’ll be less reactive, and better able to anticipate and correct for issues as they arise in the future. Start your planning process by spending some time thinking about your business from these different points of view and reap the rewards in the coming year.