Dealing with the stresses of running an advisory firm
By BRETT DAVIDSON
Do you ever find yourself feeling completely overwhelmed when running your business?
There’s just too much on your plate. Decisions are required from you one after the other. Everything bounces back to you and you’ve got decision fatigue.
Work is piling up and taking too long to get out the door. That’s meant you’ve had to start saying ‘no’ to new client work, or been forced to set up a waiting list.
Maybe you’re not quite earning enough and so you’re forced to strip out every pound from your business to fund your lifestyle (Kids’ school fees, family holidays, mortgage etc). That’s stressful and leaves your business vulnerable to unexpected shocks.
And you can’t get the staff you need to plug your capacity gaps. Or when you do hire you realise you’ve hired badly. Now it’s going to take time to let them go and in six or nine months’ time, you’ll only be back where you started.
Or maybe you are one of those business owners who is constantly coming up with great ideas to improve how things work and bring in new business. As a result you have seven projects on the go, taking resource out of your business and giving nothing back. My definition of business hell is seven projects 98% complete.
Has this ever happened to you?
Symptoms and causes
Whenever I speak with business owners, I'm listening for two things:
Symptoms, and causes.
The symptoms are the laundry list of things not quite working. These usually get a lot of air time.
But what about the underlying causes of your challenges? How do you fix those?
Don't do this
To borrow from a medical example, you can take a few paracetamol tablets and mask the symptoms for a few hours, but it’s not going to cure the disease.
If you’ve got a staff problem you can throw time and money at it in the hope that it will sort itself out – that’s one option.
Or you could go back to first principles and ask yourself, “What business am I actually trying to build?”
Without an answer to that question, everything looks like a good idea and all those projects look like they have legs.
This is one of the biggest causes of complexity and overwhelm for most adviser-owners – a lack of focus. Just getting clarity on what you want for your business – and your life – can help simplify things a notch.
As part of that process, you should examine who you serve. That is, which clients do you love to work with and would happily clone more of if you could? By getting clear on who you serve you can simplify your offering, get your pricing strategy right and most importantly, streamline your marketing.
Businesses that know who they serve and who specialise in a particular niche often don’t need to do much marketing, because their knowledge, expertise and slick service are their marketing engine. Not having to market yourself saves you hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of pounds every year.
With clarity about your target market, you can streamline and simplify your processes and have a far better idea which of your projects are worth putting time and money into. Now you’re focused.
However, when it comes to reviewing existing processes, subtraction is harder than addition. When most businesses review an existing process to simplify or improve it, invariably they end up adding ‘more’. Taking away the unnecessary steps in the process, the steps that add no value to clients, that’s what you’re looking for, not ‘more’.
And by dealing with these foundational issues properly, you’ll lay foundations for a better business culture, greater work satisfaction for your existing staff, and clearer career pathway development.
Will any of these things help you attract and retain better quality staff in the future? Of course they will.
Working on the underlying causes removes the symptoms forever.
Uncovering your potential
When I work with businesses on my Uncover Your Business Potential programme, we work on the foundations. It’s the inputs that determine your outputs. It’s clearing the root causes that eliminates all of your symptoms.
When you work on the right inputs, issues drop off your list like falling dominoes, so your overwhelm reduces.
I keep business owners focused on the few issues that will make all of the difference. The projects that will move the needle and improve your business and your life.
There’s work in it. But there’s less work than what you’re doing right now if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Running faster won’t get the job done. Working smarter just might.
It’s not easy to focus and say ’no’ to the noise, but this is what delivers progress and performance. You don’t get to where you want to go by being a crazy fool.
BRETT DAVIDSON helps financial planners take the headache out of running a business, so that they can get back to doing what they love — looking after their clients.
This article was first published on Brett’s blog and is republished here with his permission.
ALSO BY BRETT DAVIDSON
CONTENT FOR ADVISERS
Regis Media, which produces Adviser 2.0, provides financial advice firms with the content they need to promote their businesses, to communicate with their clients and to help explain how investing and the financial markets work.
We specialise in video content. As well as unique, custom-made videos, we also offer pre-produced content in your own branding.
© Adviser 2.0 MMXXIII