"I'm a light bulb" (Image: Shutterstock)

Technology companies and start-ups in general often launch what is called a “minimum viable product” or MVP. An MVP is designed to be the most basic version possible of the end-product they envision for the market. The idea is to get something built quickly so that you can begin testing the market with it as soon as you can.

The goal of the MVP is to learn as much about what your target audience wants before you bet three years of development and all of your funding on a product. For example, Groupon, the daily deal website that took the internet by storm a few years ago, actually began as a daily flyer distributed by hand and grew into a web application when the founders saw what—and why—their audience reacted to.

This is a really scrappy way to approach business that I think advisors can appreciate. We may not be building mobile apps or enterprise software, but we remember what it was like starting out. When we were at the beginning of our careers, we were bold and willing to take risks. We may not have embraced discomfort, but we endured it.

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At the time, we didn’t have a choice. We were the new kids on the block and being scrappy was the only advantage we had against our larger, more established competitors. Where they weren’t willing to cold call prospects to get new business, we were. Where they rested on their laurels and delivered the same old products, we sought out new and innovative options.

We sometimes stumbled and fell down, but we always fell forward, so even if our nose was a little bloodied we were at the very least farther down the road to success than when we had started.

And that’s how we grew.

Today, many of us are the larger more established competitors that the younger advisors are gunning for, and we are falling into the many same traps as the generated who preceded us. As we found success, our appetite for risk and scrappiness diminished, and now we are often more hesitant to try something new.

We need to re-embrace the mentality and behaviors that stoked our growth in the first place even if it means being uncomfortable. If you want to continue growing and find even higher levels of success, you need to mix that entrepreneurial mentality with your years of experience, not trade one for the other.

Use the following steps to recapture that young advisor outlook to create even more growth:

  1. Do not equate failure with waste. Just because your first light bulb doesn’t work doesn’t mean that the idea of a light bulb is a bad one. Learn from your marketing experiments so that you can hone and refine how you prospect.
  2. Don’t go halfway. You know better than anyone that if a client wants a certain level of return, they have to make a particular level of investment. Going halfway doesn’t cut it. If you try something new, really try it and give it a chance to succeed before you pivot away. That means enduring the bumps in the road and persevering when you encounter resistance instead of giving up at the first sign of difficulty.
  3. Get smart people in the room. Despite your years of experience, you can’t expect yourself to know everything about everything. Bring in outside experts whose strengths complement yours so that you can illuminate and seize new opportunities. Sometimes this means not being the smartest person in a conversation, but that should excite you rather than intimidate you.
  4. Be consistently different. Once your experiments yield fruit, don’t stop. Refine that activity to make it as effective as possible and continue looking for new and different ways to prospect. This will keep you ahead of your competitors and will keep your sales pipeline pumping.

To find growth, we need to pursue it—diligently and consistently. We knew this intuitively when our client book was empty, but that truth hasn’t changed even if we are now successful. There are more opportunities for new business, and many of them are hidden by doors that can’t be unlocked with the “same old same old.”

— For more ideas about how to grow, try Your Best Selfon ThinkAdvisor.


John Pojeta

John Pojeta is vice president of business development at The PT Services Group. Before he joined PT, he owned and operated an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise for 16 years.