When people I’ve just met learn what I do for a living, their first question inevitably is “Where should I invest?” After I explain that I am not an investment advisor and don’t make stock picks nor give general investing recommendations, I do point out that there is no “secret” to investing, no quick way to wealth. Instead, I tell them that you have to do the basics: save more than you spend and do so consistently and over time. Jumping in and out of the market is a formula for disaster, and to diversify any investments you might have. If they haven’t yet moved on to some other person at the cocktail party, I tell them that the only way to have a chance at real wealth building is to start your own business. Taking that risk, putting your money and your energy and your time toward building a business, is the best way to not only increase your chances of eventual monetary success, but also to be in control of your life. I’ve worked at enough owner-operated small businesses over the years to know that running your own business is intensely time-consuming. In fact, it can be all-consuming.
While much of the practice management content in this magazine and on AdvisorOne.com is meant to help you run a more efficient business, to help you pick the right partners, to help you grow your business, to make your practice less all-consuming, I’m well aware that many of you are quite happy to have a practice that affords you enough of an income to meet your needs and those of your family while also serving a manageable number of clients.
However, you can have a practice that provides you with the lifestyle you want, and also be a better businessperson. In fact, I’d suggest there’s a moral imperative to doing so. As Mark Tibergien said in an interview about his new book, many advisors are “process-oriented in their craft, but not in how they run their business.” Since Tibergien is not afraid to call a spade a spade, he has “no problem with solo practitioners,” and if “mediocrity is your goal, that’s easy to attain.” Is that your goal? After all, he suggests, “it’s your call; just be good” at the business model you choose.