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3 Moves That Can Trip Up Even the Best Leaders

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Throughout my 20 years in the business, I’ve learned a few things that stand out when it comes to how to grow advisory firms.

Many believe growth begins with stellar client service and/or marketing plans. No doubt those are especially important, but the actions and behaviors of firm leaders is what drives growth the most.

Many firm leaders fall into predicable growth patterns of behavior but here are three to watch out for as you grow and expand your firm.

1. Doors swing both ways.

Often leaders fail to realize that each door they walk through, they can also walk out of. Business decisions are like doors, and if you make a bad decision, there is always another “door” that can be taken to correct it.

Business decisions never end. Many firm leaders feel the need to make perfect decisions that often delay taking action. If you expect your decisions to be perfect, you are not opening doors for yourself.

The leaders who grow the fastest make quick decisions using a “two-door mentality.” Whether they’re deciding on employee compensation, human capital programs, marketing, and/or acquisitions, the goal is to keep moving. Growth stops moving when you stop making decisions. There are few decisions that cannot be undone.

If you have a door in front of you, remember that when you walk through it, you always have another choice to walk out. When you know it’s time to walk out, don’t wait and keep moving. More doors will be opened when you accept that you are going to make bad decisions, along with good ones.

2. The less you know, the more you grow.

If you begin to believe that you have everything figured out, you’re in dangerous territory.

There are countless times I’ve helped advisory firms jumpstart their growth — again. Nearly every time (no exaggeration) the growth stopped because the firm owner and/or leadership started to think they had it figured out.

One of the biggest problems all leaders face when running a business is their ego. You have two choices. You can say to yourself: “The more I grow, the less I know” or “The more I grow, the more I know.”

The latter is dangerous to growth sustainability. If each day, you seek new knowledge and let go, the more you will grow.

3. Take care of yourself first.

Your decisions require stability, which means, you must ground yourself first.

If you are leading a firm and not taking care of your own personal finances by getting your own house in order, and living by your own financial plan, there is no way your decisions in the business will be clear.

I am a trained financial advisor and because of this, I could see clearly — early in my career — that the most sustainable growth-oriented firms were led by advisors who took their own advice.

They took care of their own personal wealth by hiring an advisor and/or by being a great advisor to themselves. That focus gave them clarity and separation of their personal finances with their business’ finances.

If there is only one piece of advice over the past 20 years that I could give advisor leaders, it’s this: Leaders who have their own financial advisors are the ones who also have the most successful and fastest growing firms.

Why wouldn’t you take your own advice?