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Practice Management > Building Your Business

5 Steps to Mastering Growth

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Many advisory firm owners today want to grow at their maximum potential. But it takes a well-thought-out plan and carefully implemented process to create a successful business boost.

Let’s review the most fundamental — and thus most important — challenge for owner advisors striving for success  time management. If you don’t master this first, nothing anyone can tell you about growing your business will be of help.

Time is the highest hurdle to growth. That’s because growing your firm means making good decisions, which take time to think through. By taking the time required, you will learn to deeply trust your decisions to run a business.

In my work with some of the top advisory business leaders, I’ve found the most successful of them don’t manage their time through a tracking system, or though unrealistic deadlines, agendas or long meetings.

Nor do they manage time by telling themselves they have to become morning people or by neglecting their families and working long hours. They manage their time well through good communication and by building trust: trust in themselves, their employees, partners, clients and the people at the institutions with which they do business.

The foundation of trust begins with mastering the these five simple communication techniques:

1. Set boundaries. 

You can do this by using the word that starts with an “n” and ends with an “o.” This means you have to find the courage to be disliked, sometimes.

You can’t please everyone, so stop trying. To grow, you and the rest of the leaders in your organization have to stay focused on the most important priorities in your business and its growth. You can’t get derailed by people who “want” something from you.

The best way to remove all the distractions that take countless hours of time is simply to start saying “no.” Trust that you don’t have to give everything to everyone.

2. Look for solutions within what you already have.

The growth solutions you need, you already have. The “silver bullet” doesn’t exist.

When you see a problem, instead of reaching for yet another external solution — like a different partner, a merger, more technology, more marketing, a “star” rainmaker, another service offering, etc. — look at what you already have within your business and make it better. Trust that improving and caring for what you have is better than finding something new.

3. Accept where you are.

The best way to destroy growth is to compare it to something else, or go seek some “thing” else or some “one” else. Comparing your firm to other firms in the industry and saying “I want to be like …” takes energy, resources and research you can’t afford to waste.

When you stop comparing your firm to others, you’ll see the beauty of what is standing right beside you — in the loyal partners, employees and clients that you already have.

Doing this also gives you an appreciation for how far you’ve come. Trust that where you are is where you’re supposed to be — and move on from there.

4. Ask for help, instead of continuing to be the help.

If you’ve outgrown the people around you or you have surrounded yourself with “yes men,” you are not growing — and neither is your business.

If you don’t have people who are challenging you, your ideas and your decisions, you are not making better decisions. There is no right or wrong in building a business. Trust that the people who are challenging you are helping to make you better.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 to master them.

Growing a business isn’t easy, so don’t make it any harder than it needs to be. Instead, actively work at giving yourself more time: time to think, time to learn, and time to make better decisions.

The real formula for success in the independent advisory business is taking the time to truly trust the process.

Angie Herbers is Managing Director and Senior Consultant at Herbers & Company, an independent growth consultancy for financial advisory firms. She can be reached at [email protected].