A new year always causes me to pause and reflect on what I have or have not accomplished during the prior year and look forward what I want to achieve in the upcoming year. There isn’t anything we can do about the past, but we can decide what our future will look like. Begin with a longer-term vision of where we want to be and then focus on shorter time periods, the next year, next month, and next week.
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Identifying and completing shorter-term tasks and projects ultimately leads to getting closer to reaching the vision you set for your firm. Once you have identified your vision, you can begin to implement a strategic planning process.
Decide that you are going to make a change and do it today! Identify what the long-term vision you have for your firm.
Once you have identified your vision, how do you begin the strategic planning process?
Realizing that we need to do some planning for whatever personal or professional goals we have is half the battle. In other words, just beginning the process is extremely important to your success. The second half of the battle (and probably more important) is actually sitting down and spending the time thinking about and mapping out where we want our business to be in the future and working towards making that happen in the next year. This is where the vision and strategic planning come together. You need to know where you want to get to before deciding where and how you want to get there.
If you combine WHY, WHO, WHEN, WHERE and HOW of the process all at the same time it can become overwhelming and paralyzing. It is sometimes easier to do nothing, particularly if your firm is already fairly successful. It is often not easy to know where to begin and what to focus on in the strategic planning process. Let’s break it down to make starting the process a little easier.
WHY? Hopefully this one is pretty obvious- to get your business to the next level of success.
WHO? You and your staff. Initially developing the vision for the firm will involve only you the owner or principal of the firm. The strategic planning process will involve your entire staff.
WHEN? Begin today.
WHERE (to find time)? Put time on the calendar to make time for strategic planning. If you feel that this is better done outside the office, find a location where you can focus on this.
HOW? By planning what needs to be done today and tomorrow in order to reach incremental goals.
Think of it this way. Would you allow one of your financial planning clients to "wing it" without a well thought out financial plan? Your successful (high income, high asset) clients would probably make it to retirement without you doing much planning for them. However, even though they might make it to retirement successfully, the confidence in reaching their target retirement goals are increased dramatically by following the systematic process you have created for them (and they have followed!). If you wouldn't allow your clients to plan for their future in this manner, why would you put off planning for your own business? Your business is much more likely to be successful if you spend more time working ON your business instead of just working IN your business! Strategic planning is part of the working on your business.
Strategic Planning is, in simple terms, the process of figuring out where your business is going and how you are going to get there. As a business owner, it also should incorporate your personal goals. As the owner, you have the ability to build the business any way you want. This is especially true in the financial advisory business with its variety of business models. You can decide the size of the business you want to build, whether you want to hire staff or outsource many of the functions, how large you want to grow your business, how much vacation time you want to take, and so on.
Once you have the vision on where you want the business to be, it allows you to focus all your energy on performing the tasks needed to get where you want to be. When your staff is able to see where the firm is headed, they now become responsible for completing the tasks that need to be completed to reach each incremental goal.
Develop a vision for your firm and begin planning and working toward your vision each and every day.