The U.S. boasts roughly 29.6 million small businesses. Individuals 50 and older make up about 25 percent of the workforce, yet they comprise roughly 40 percent of the self-employed. But a recent American Express survey indicates that only about one-third of business owners work with an advisor.

How can you tap that pool of candidates? A pipeline of business owners will provide you with a consistent volume of prospects and greater potential revenue. The process of building your pipeline need not be mystifying or intimidating. With a bit of up-front work and a well-designed plan, you’ll create a dependable pipeline of qualified boomers who need financial advice.

As you develop your pipeline, take these steps to ensure that you’re focusing on the right prospects:

1. Identify your strengths. How comfortable are you presenting to a cold prospect? Do you specialize in a specific type of financial planning, or would you consider yourself a generalist? Have you outlined a plan for a first meeting and the steps that will follow? You’ll know precisely what you want when you know precisely who you are.

2. Understand your geographical market and its conditions. When deciding where specifically to prospect, consider local or regional factors that could affect your game plan. Swings in the economy, for example, may affect single-industry regions harder than those with a more diverse base. Political cycles also can impact a region’s economic stability, keeping cautious business owners on the sidelines.

3. Define the ideal prospect in your market. Decide which industries are your strong suit, the preferred size of your target companies and how long those businesses have been in operation. Only about half of all small businesses survive their first five years, so concentrate on companies with staying power . . . and comfortable annual revenue that doesn’t fluctuate wildly.

4. Identify the businesses in your area that fit your ideal demographic. Now that you’ve established the parameters for your ideal clients, it’s time to determine which businesses best fit your criteria. Compile a list of companies that meet your requirements for size, length of operation and financial metrics. You can do the research yourself or purchase it from a vendor that supplies such data.

5. Gather information on your prospects. Using the list of businesses which you have pre-qualified, collect specific details about your targets. For each company, identify the contact person and decision makers. Determine what types of coverage are already in place, if the business currently has an advisor and if family members are involved in the enterprise. Again, you can conduct this research yourself or acquire data from a company specializing in lead generation.

Once you’ve gathered this information, you can eliminate non-qualified prospects from your list. Your finished product will be a sales pipeline unique to your needs. Thanks to your thorough preparation, your pipeline will provide a rich flow of prospects ready to be contacted for a meeting.

Dan Luttner is Business Development Executive for BravuraLeads. BravuraLeads and its affiliates have been providing advanced prospecting solutions exclusively for the financial services and insurance industry since 1992. For more information, go to www.bravuraleads.com.