Greensboro: “I heard your webinar on team offsite retreats, but I’m not sure it applies to me”, explained Susan on a recent conference call.  “It’s just me and a shared assistant, so I don’t know that it makes much sense to plan a full day strategy session.”

In the webinar we described how to host an annual offsite retreat; basically a place for all team members to get together, create the vision for the next year, and create action steps for improvement.  They can be very helpful. 

We gave suggestions for those with small teams or even shared assistants, but we realize this concept isn’t for everyone.  For many advisors, a simple, yet effective business plan provides all the planning necessary for a stellar year.

As we’re getting close to the end of the year, and this is the most pertinent time for business planning, we thought it might be helpful to share the following tips for building an effective business plan.  We’ve also provided a link at the bottom of this article for you to download a simple business plan we created. 

5 Tips for Effective Business Plans

1. Keep it Short
Business plans that are too long become unusable.  While it might be a great intellectual exercise, it rarely results in action.  The best business plans get to the point.  They establish goals, initiatives, and action steps.  These are documents that can sit on your desk and be referenced throughout the year. These are not a MBA thesis.  3-5 pages is a good rule of thumb.

2. Set Realistic Goals
Many new advisors set goals they couldn’t hit in three lifetimes.  This can be brutally de-motivating.  Scientists at Harvard University and the University of Michigan have shown that goal motivation peaks when you have a 50/50 shot of achieving that goal.  What is a client acquisition goal that is tough but realistic for 2013?
 

3. Include Marketing Metrics
As a new advisor, the most critical part of your business plan is business development.  What actions will be taken throughout the year to hit your client acquisition targets?  Your firm may have provided some metrics.  If so, use these at a starting point.  Double down on your marketing strengths.  If you’ve proven that CPA alliances can work for you, plan a specific number of CPA interactions per week. 

4. Create a System for Follow-up
How many plans are created, but never executed?  Plan for specific check-in intervals in advance.  Will you check in on this plan once a week?  Once a month?  We suggest putting these check-in points into your calendar.

5. Share It
If you share your business plan with others, you’re more likely to stick with it.  Why?  It’s a matter of pride.  It’s like telling people your goal is to lose 30 pounds by working out every day during lunch.  You’re not likely to be sitting at your desk with fast food and a large soda the next week.  Share your plan with your manager, your spouse, and any close colleagues.  Encourage them to check in with you to see how things are going.

Most business plans fall into one of two categories.  They’re either too long and shortly forgotten, or they consist entirely of sales targets.  Don’t let being part of a small team be an excuse for lack of structure.  Visit https://www.oechsli.com/elite-advisor-business-plan to download a FREE copy of our Elite Advisor Business plan.  It’s simple, but effective. 

Susan completed this exact plan with input from her assistant.  It was marketing-heavy and clearly outlined their goals.  Let’s see how she follows it!  Every advisor, solo or on a team, needs a solid business plan to guide their efforts throughout the year. Get started on yours today, stick to it, and the results will follow.

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders and coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry.  @StephenBoswell  @KevinANichols  www.oechsli.com