A key part of our business management strategy is to create firms that take as much off their owner-advisors’ plates as possible. Not only does this eliminate what’s almost always the major bottleneck in a firm, it also gives firm owners more free time in and out of the office. That greatly lowers owners’ stress levels and significantly increases the quality of their work. However, we’ve also found another result of “leveraging” firm owners that we hadn’t expected: many advisors kind of “freak out” when they find themselves with little or nothing to do when they don’t feel “busy” every moment of every day.
While it’s often difficult to get firm owners to take the quality down time that is essential for all of us to maintain peak productivity, and sustain mental health, we’ve found that’s even harder to get them to refocus a substantial portion of their new-found “down time” on their business, rather than on their job.
Over the years, we come to realize that successful businesses—whether they are Apple, JP Morgan, or small independent advisory firms—don’t become successful by themselves. They are the result of thoughtful decisions and careful nurturing over many years. So business owners, and/or CEOs, should be spending most of their time just thinking about their businesses.
I know, to most owner-advisors this sounds like crazy talk. Believe me, I’ve heard that reaction hundreds of times. But for advisors who have made the decision to grow their business beyond themselves and one or two clerical assistants, there isn’t really another option. Both businesses and employees need to be managed. And sound management requires clear thinking—lots of it. Which means most advisory firm owners should put on their CEO hat most of the time, and simply “think” about their business.