On a recent call with a client, after we discussed his advisory business and his goals for it, he asked me to help him create a long-term plan, including his firm’s goals.
I told him I’m not a fan of long-term plans. Instead, I gave him a small, “micro” two-week goal that would help move him toward his vision. He called back a couple of days later demanding that I establish a long-term plan with a complete list of goals. I asked him how his two-week goal was coming along; he couldn’t remember what it was.
When I started out as business consultant to independent advisors, I helped all my clients create long-term business plans. After a few years, I began to notice a trend: My clients weren’t making any progress toward those goals.
What’s more, I realized I spent most of my time with clients overcoming their resistance to implementing long-term plans.
Over the intervening years, I’ve come to see that the problem wasn’t my clients but rather the long-term plans themselves.
Long-term plans are overwhelming. Seeing all the things that must be achieved in order to attain large goals is both a depressing and discouraging experience to most owner advisors — so they simply avoid taking any action on the plan.
Once I realized the root of the problem, the solution was simple: Stop doing long-term plans. Yes, you read that right — stop doing long-term plans.
Instead, write a vision statement of where you want to end up and map out short-term goals.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your vision is to grow your firm to $1 billion in client assets. What will you need to do to get there? Chances are, new clients.
Next, ask what your firm needs to do to work with more clients? Maybe your existing staff should be handling a few more clients, but, eventually, you’re going to need more advisors.