As we head towards the last few months of 2013 it’s a good time to start planning your business development for next year. If you are determined to make 2014 your best year yet, it only makes sense to get a head start on planning. Here are frequently asked questions about planning as well as best practices and good information on how to write a successful Business Plan for 2014.
When is a good time to write your Business Plan?
My clients know that November and December are great months to schedule a special team meeting either in the office or out of office by taking your entire team offsite for a half-day or full-day strategic planning meeting. And if you’re reading this well into 2014, there’s never a better time than NOW to get started!
Why take the entire team?
If you’ve read my post on ways to be a better leader, you know that sharing your firm’s vision, goals, and strategic direction is crucial in order to get everyone on board and motivated to help you grow your firm.
If this is the first year you will involve your team, explain to them why you are including them. Explain that you value your team’s input and that you would like to offer bonus compensation for your team because from now on everyone will be chipping in to grow the firm.
Make the job of growth a shared responsibility! By sharing your vision, you’ll be making sure everyone is on the same page strategically. This will cement your team’s inspiration and desire to help you achieve the firm’s goals.
How to organize your planning
Each year I like my financial services clients to develop their Business Plan for the following year. This year they will name their plan “Business Plan 2014.” Each year thereafter, “Business Plan 2015,” etc.
Why? Because I want my clients to have a record of their strategic decision making each and every year so that they can review their progress as time goes by. It seems so simple to do this, yet very few financial firms do. You can bet though that the most successful firms in the industry embrace this strategy.
Why does the plan have to be written?
Advisors often tell me “My Business Plan is all in my head” while tapping their foreheads. Is the work you do for your clients all in your head? Is your client service process all in your head? Is your compliance process all in your head? I don’t think so. The same goes for your Business Plan. It must be written down in a document with actionable steps for you and your team to follow.
How long should your plan be?
The short answer is only as long as you need it to be. There are two types of plans: one that is used to attract venture capital funding and one that is used to plan a company’s growth. If your need is the latter, then you don’t need to include sections that are not helpful to your mature operation, such as the Executive Summary, Company Description, and Management Team.
This means that a simple two to three page document can often be sufficient for planning purposes. After all, you want a plan that helps you think strategically and act on your intentions, not a complicated essay on the pros and cons of your business model.
How do you project revenue increases?
If you have a well-founded strategic direction and you’ve been in practice five or more years, you should be growing 8-10% annually without doing much besides doing your job and getting client referrals. If you really get serious and implement several new marketing tactics, you can realistically achieve 15-25% growth annually, but be ready to budget additional time, monies, and resources to do this.
What resources do you recommend to help advisors with their planning?
First of all, get out your revenue records over the past five years. You’ll need data to plot your income growth year over year. Next, find any prior business or marketing plans you created from years past. Write down the names of all new clients you received in the past year. Where did they come from? Analyze your most successful strategies to date. Then, spend time deciding which new strategies and tactics you would like to implement for the coming year.
Here is list of tools I have developed over the years to help my clients plan:
Simple Business Plan for Advisors – This is my own system for writing a simple, yet effective Business Plan. It contains many helpful resources as well as a six day course to help you write your plan.
Marketing Plan to attract a more affluent clientele – If you are beyond the five year mark in your business history and would like to shape up your firm to attract a wealthier clientele, this nine week course can help you by providing a fill-in-the-blanks Marketing Plan.
Client acquisition planning resources – If you need to get serious about getting new clients, this productivity program will help you keep yourself accountable to achieving your goals in 90 days.
How do you ensure that your Business Plan is implemented?
It’s very simple: schedule a monthly business meeting where you discuss a number of key issues with your staff.
- How is the firm doing in relation to the goals set at the beginning of the year?
- How many new clients have you brought in?
- Who are the firm’s top 20 prospective clients?
- What key marketing activities are scheduled for the coming month?
- Who is in charge of planning these activities?
Get a jump on planning a successful 2014!
When you take your business seriously anything is possible. Treat your 2014 Business Plan as a serious endeavor and devote time to developing your strategic direction. Decide whether you are going to lead, follow, or get out of the way.
If you’d like to investigate using my Business Coaching Services to kick off your New Year, Request a Consultation with me as soon as possible as my schedule fills up very fast.