Galloping around at a frenetic pace, late and distracted, entrepreneur Allison Maslan ran herself over with her own car. She had failed to put on the parking brake before exiting and was dragged under the front tire and into the middle of the street.
Miraculously, she suffered only a broken collarbone and temporary tire imprints on her legs from the weight of that 4,000-pound vehicle rolling over her. But the trauma shocked the then-28-year-old into realizing she was spreading herself too thin and desperately needed to revamp her way of doing business.
Today, as a mentor and coach, Maslan advises other successful entrepreneurs how to avoid burnout through scaling their businesses — that is, going “from one-to-one” to “one-to-many,” as she tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.
CEO of Pinnacle Global Network, Maslan, 55, has helped thousands of small businesses grow, expand and scale. Her clients include individual financial advisors and firms such as Merrill Lynch, Allstate and Ben & Jerry’s. Over three decades, she has built and scaled 10 successful companies from scratch.
In her new book, “Scale or Fail” (Wiley-Oct. 2018), the international speaker details how entrepreneurs can propel themselves to the next level through scaling.
In the interview, she discusses six of 17 strategies advisors can use to scale their practices.
Personal branding is a Maslan specialty, and that was her focus in working with Merrill Lynch advisors. Her own branding hook, the “SCALEit Method,” is based on an acronym: “S” for strategic vision; “C” for cash flow; “A” for alliance of the team; “L” for leadership; “E” for execution.
Years after her harrowing car accident, Maslan dared to take up an unlikely hobby: flying on a trapeze 35 feet up. On the trapeze she had built by Cirque du Soleil equipment-makers, she regularly soars and somersaults in her own backyard.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed the quite fearless flyer, on the phone from her San Diego office. On top of discussing specifics about how FAs can scale, she talked about the psychological parallels between scaling a business and aerial artistry.
Here are highlights:
THINKADVISOR: What’s the difference between growing a business and scaling a business?
ALLISON MASLAN: Growth is when you’re building your blueprint: getting clear on your target audience, putting yourself out there, building a name. Scale is when you hit bandwidth and need to duplicate and multiply.
Is it possible to scale a financial advisory practice?
Absolutely. Advisors — also doctors and attorneys — often feel that if they’re not doing their process [personally], clients will go away. But there are only so many hours in the day. You can’t clone yourself. So you need to create a signature process around what you do.
For advisors scaling would also be a way to prepare to sell their practice someday. Isn’t it?
Definitely. If you have [additional] recurring revenue, your valuation is going to be much higher. For example, if, on top of their practice [itself], an advisor creates a recurring revenue program, such as a subscription program — giving clients the latest news in the world of compliance, say — or a certification program, it will give the buyer [more] confidence.
What other strategies can advisors use to scale?
Licensing is a great way to get your brand out there in a bigger way. A lot of advisors who love helping people have a difficult time getting out and marketing themselves — as do many entrepreneurs. So with licensing, they can go under the umbrella of their brand and expertise, and be more comfortable because they don’t feel like they’re selling themselves so much.
What additional scaling strategies are good for advisors?
Adding new locations. Instead of thinking about one-to-one with your client, look at: “How do I get from one to many?” Scaling is replicating what you do and then multiplying that. Leading workshops and events will help build a full brand too.
Buying the competition is another way to scale that you write about.
Right. A lot of people think, “Wow, that’s way above my head!” but some [advisors] are ready to move on; and if you can catch them at the right time, there’s a whole [book] of clients you can step into.
Must you have a team in order to scale?