For many of us, “bigger is better” isn’t just a saying. It’s a creed we wholeheartedly endorse. In a land of super-size fries, jumbo mortgages, and family vehicles large enough to have their own Zip code, we find something infinitely exciting about the idea of doing more, getting more, moving up.
So addicted are we to the thrill of endless expansion and growth that we often forget the importance of contraction and rest, an equally vital part of most natural cycles. Many times, in fact, there is value in choosing not to grow or even opting to shrink, to simplify instead of complicate, and to seek more satisfying avenues of growth and development. Here are some examples of what I mean.
My partner wants me to accept a buyout offer we’ve just received from a local bank. He thinks that it’s only a matter of time before our small firm is put out of business by regional or national competitors. But I enjoy being my own boss, and I like our practice just the way it is. Do you see a way to resolve this difference of opinion? If staying small is really your deepest desire, I would not compromise because of a generalized fear of the future.
Remind your partner about your own fears of being swallowed up by a larger company and losing control of your work. Ask if he would be willing to commit to waiting a certain period of time (a year? six months?) before making a judgment about whether or not your firm can survive. Tell him that if he still feels that the prospects are gloomy at that point, you will give your blessing to a buyout.
What Your Peers Are Reading
In this discussion, try to help him see that panicky decisions are seldom the best ones, even if they seem to make financial sense at the moment. By slowing down and working out a more reasoned plan of action, you can create a road map that will be easier for both of you to live with.
If he is unwilling to give you the time you are asking for, your best choice may be to dissolve the partnership. He may then be able to sell his half of the business to the bank or another acquirer, while you continue on with your satisfying solo practice.
Over the past eight years, I’ve built a solid financial planning business in the small town where I live. But statistically, my growth prospects are limited here, so I’m considering a move to a major city about a hundred miles away. The trouble is, I feel uncomfortable about leaving some of my clients, and I keep thinking of what I may lose in quality of life. Am I just afraid to change? Should I push myself to move? I don’t think it’s wise to push yourself into changing solely for change’s sake. Your first step should be to sort out which path will be better for you in the long run. What do your own instincts and yearnings tell you? Is moving to the city what you really want to do, or merely what you feel you “should” do?
If you truly want to remain where you are, give yourself full permission to stay put, at least for now. There may be creative ways you can still prospect for clients who live closer to the big city (if you really want to expand your business, that is).
On the other hand, if you’re itching to see whether you can make it in a bigger market, consider a multiphase plan that will let you continue working with your hometown clients while you relocate to the city. Gradually refer the less rewarding clients to other planners, so you can devote more energy to retaining the ones you truly enjoy.
Above all, I would encourage you not to be stampeded by statistics. When clients lament to me about the mathematical unlikelihood of accomplishing something–finding a job in their field, getting married at an “advanced” age, publishing the Great American Novel they’ve labored over–I always try to remind them that an individual is not a statistic. They only have to find one job, one spouse, or one publisher, which is certainly a less daunting task than moving a statistical mountain! So take heart, and try to keep your business going in a way that fulfills you.
I’ve worked for a big securities firm for the past 10 years, with increasing dissatisfaction. I’m dying to start my own planning practice, but my husband is worried about the financial risk since he could lose his own corporate job at any time. We’ve had many heated arguments over this. What should I do? Finding a way through this dilemma won’t be easy. Your spouse is understandably concerned about a potentially catastrophic drop in your joint income, but there is also an emotional risk in prolonging your frustrating employment.