To grow or not to grow: that is the question!
Author: John Koloda, BComm, CLU, CFP, CHFC, RHU
The question sounds so simple and straightforward…but it provokes a huge amount of anxiety for successful financial advisors looking to answer this question.
As Deon Dup indicates in a recent article: 3 Important Areas To Focus On When Growing Your Business, the good news is that posing the question about growing your business means that you have actually created a business that works and that in itself is quite an accomplishment. Growing the business might sound like next the logical step in your progress, but does success automatically mean that it is necessary to start looking at expansion? Are all of the right ingredients are in place to support such a change?
Questions before answers
Let us start by saying that being on the fence about growing your business is an “OK” place to be. It is exciting, because the growth is expected to generate increased corporate revenues, personal wealth and all the pleasures and comfort that come with growth. At the same time it is scary, because a wrong move may lead to failure and loss of control over the business. It is all about the recurring ambivalence between seeking the stability of an organization within an ever-changing environment; one that calls for constant change and adaptation.
Many among us have entertained the thought that we could stay a one-man or one-woman operation forever and to be able to efficiently handle all the aspects of a successful financial security business. But there comes the time where burning questions pop up and confront us regarding the issue of business growth. To be successful, an advisor must answer certain questions that address specific indicators required for the decision to grow or not to grow. Included are:
- Am I neglecting referrals?
- Am I taking the time to return calls to clients? Am I completing follow-ups?
- Am I taking the time to explore new markets?
- Do I still have the time to service my clients in a way that is consistent with my service standards?
- Am I buried in administrative tasks that take me away from being with clients? Is it the best use of my time and of my skills?
- Am I satisfied with my work-life balance…time for leisure versus time for work?
- Do I have time to take care of my health?
- Am I still doing what I enjoy the most: meeting clients and seeing to their financial security, or has this become almost a secondary focus?
The list goes on. The point is that the answers to these questions may provide insightful information on your desire to change your business by growing it to the next level. The “status quo” may no longer be the best option for your business as you begin to consider and weigh your business’s future and potential.
Principles to nourish your thought process
- Be clear on what you really want from your business. How much money will make you happy and content? What will best satisfy your clients? Your family? Your professional needs? Staying connected with your true inner voice is key to any success; growing to impress the gallery or to keep up with the Joneses, peer pressure rarely works out well. If you are not very clear on what is important to you and where you want your business to go, chances are your business will end up where you never intended it to be.
- Look at the situation from different angles and with different people: Validate your ambitions with your spouse and family in order to get to know their personal perspective. Speak to valued clients to hear their feedback, their service expectations, etc. Do not forget to involve your accountant to review and analyze all of your business financials in order to ensure that your financial situation is healthy enough to even consider growth as an option. Taking the time to go over these essential aspects of your business is a crucial aspect of planning that comes prior to any decision-making process that includes driving business growth.
- Take advice: As a business owner, you may feel that only you should make decisions concerning your business. Understand that you do not have to do this alone. Above and beyond the resources mentioned, it may be a wise decision to consider seeking an experienced and independent coach who will guide you along the path of deciding whether to grow or not. A business coach will provide objective assistance in lining up the right questions, formulating the answers that are right for you and your business and look at all the options that will enable you to optimize your final decision and minimize your risks.
- Decide on priorities and on timing: The growth of your business can move in more than one direction. Will you start with hiring more staff to provide you with increased administrative help and/or restructure existing roles internally? Will you consider associating yourself with a freshly trained sub-advisor to service your existing clients that will allow you to increase your marketing and sales initiatives? Is it the best time to move ahead, or will this change clash with other important personal or professional priorities?
- Plan and prepare: Making the decision to grow is a huge step. Preparing to implement change is also significant. Careful scripting of your plans and various steps will alleviate a lot of stress and minimize errors. Craftsmen say: “measure twice, cut once”. Business owners might say: “plan twice, implement once”. We can’t say it enough: take the time to write your business plan, create time lines, and to measure the pros and the cons. The best way to proceed is certainly to be safe rather than sorry!
Small is really beautiful
For most business owners, taking small steps in implementing change is the key to success. Rules of thumb may include:
- Keep an eye on the bottom-line. Results of expansion should improve your net revenues and help you to become more efficient. Consider monitoring these results carefully: Where are you spending your time now that you have help? Do you have more money or more time in the end?
- Keep an eye on your inner self. Are you happy and content with the impact of the changes in your personal and professional life? Are these changes occurring smoothly or causing you a lot of unwanted stress?
- Never bite off more than what you can chew. Envision your growth in small steps rather than in great leaps and bounds. Consider temporary changes first if they are feasible e.g. hiring a part-time administrative assistant before you permanently decide to increase your staff.
At KolodaCORE we believe that “one size doesn’t fit all” when it comes to business growth.
Our experience leads us to believe that change in smaller increments has a higher chance of breeding genuine and durable “successes”. With the right planning and advice, a chain of small “successes”, accomplished one step at a time with modest, controlled financial investment, will lead to the ultimate business growth and financial success that you wish to achieve!