Imagine a new client walks into your office for guidance on their finances and potential investment decisions.
They then inform you they aren’t interested in setting retirement goals or identifying what they’ll need to focus on to achieve them. They just want to address their immediate concerns. You’d probably have a difficult time helping them and determining which retirement offerings would be best suited for them. Right?
Not having goals and a plan is like going on a trip without knowing where you’re going or what you need to do to get there. You could just start driving, but what if you can’t get to your destination by car? Or, what if you are driving in the wrong direction? You may eventually get there, but it will take more time, effort and resources.
Why Building a Business Plan is Important
Have you implemented a plan for your business? Industry research indicates only 50 percent of financial professionals have a business plan in place.
A business plan helps you define your goals and map out and stay on a set path to achieve them. It can also help you eliminate distractions along the way and ensure optimal productivity and efficiency.
The Time to Start Your Business Plan is Now
So, why do so many financial professionals not have a business plan?
Typically, they’ll say they don’t have time to develop one, or they keep meaning to get to it but never do. As we get deeper into the year, it can feel like it’s not worth starting a plan now. So, it’s easy to tell ourselves, “I’ll start one next year.”
But now is always the best time to start a plan.
In his book, “The 12 Week Year,” author Brian Moran shows you how to successfully do so.
Moran explains, for many businesses, December is often the best month of the year, and the fourth quarter often represents 30 to 40 percent of annual sales. Just think what you could accomplish if you had that sense of yearend urgency every month of the year.
The Difference Between Annual Planning and 12-Week Planning
So, if we toss out annual business planning and take a 12-week approach, how does that benefit us and how do we put that kind of plan together?
Moran explains predictability becomes much greater. Unless you have a crystal ball, you have to make a lot of assumptions about what will happen through the year. Trying to determine the right actions to take several months into the future is very difficult, if not impossible.
With 12-week planning, you can have much more certainty about what you need to do as you think about each week over the next 12 weeks. The great thing about this is you can link specific actions to the results you want and course correct much sooner if you need to.
12-week planning is more focused. Instead of trying to squeeze a year’s worth of activities into your plan, you can focus on the few things that will have the greatest impact during those 12 weeks.
This allows you to drive toward those goals with that sense of urgency and energy that you might associate with that final push in December. Now you can work to achieve those same great results in 12-week increments for even greater results by the time you get to year end.
How to Start a 12-Week Business Plan
So, now what? You see the benefits of planning in 12-week increments, so how do you do that? Start with these simple tips for creating an effective plan structure.
- Make tasks specific and measurable – When creating a goal, it is important to be specific and make sure you quantify and qualify what success looks like. Maybe ask yourself, how many appointments will I set each day with current and prospective clients to be successful?
- Be positive – Being positive in any situation is crucial, as it helps keep you relaxed. Instead of focusing on something you weren’t successful at focus on how you don’t want to spend time doing assistant-level work. Consider increasing an assistant’s responsibilities in a way that makes you more comfortable.
- Ensure a realistic stretch – Make sure the goals you set are achievable and not too far out. For example, instead of asking for referrals in every client interaction, which may be too much, set a goal to ask for a referral in at least three client meetings a week.
- Assign accountability – This may be the most important step of all. This applies to people who are helping you with a certain project. If that is not the case, the accountability is on you. Knowing you are accountable can help you push and motivate yourself.
When assign tasks to your assistant, make sure you are holding them accountable and giving feedback as well. It will be something they start to expect as well, another step in keeping both of you accountable.
- Be time-bound – Includes dates by which the goal is to be reached or when a project is to be executed.
These steps will allow you to evaluate which tactics are adding to your success. Weekly goals ladder up to 12-week goals, making it easier to measure the success. Twelve-week business plans have been proven to work, and these steps can help you take the first step to creating your own 12-week plan.
Article written and provided by Nationwide Financial.