Most financial professionals are aware that they need to have a strong business plan with focused goals, tactics, and defined action steps in order to be successful in their practice. Many are also aware that planning for the sake of planning is worthless unless there is accountability built into the plan. The most important component is to be accountable to your plan, as without accountability, any plan will fail. We have found that the best accountability comes from an external resource, known as the accountability partner. If you take these ten steps you will be on the right path to optimum practice & professional development.
Set aside highly focused time every 12 weeks to develop your plan.
Make sure all the personnel integral to your practice are available and present in the planning session. Use an off-site venue as the most productive way to facilitate the meeting without external distractions. Make sure everyone is on board with a “no interruption” mentality for the duration of the meeting. This means a no computer and phone during the meeting. Do however allow consistent breaks to keep the energy level at a peak level.
Create an agenda that sets the stage for the meeting.
Share the agenda ahead of the meeting to all participants. Include pre-work in alignment with the agenda. One requirement of the pre-work should include a SWOT analysis (see below). This will eliminate unproductive time trying to answer these questions during the meeting but allow for referencing the results when constructing your plan.
During the meeting stick to pre-set times for each stage of plan development.
A moderator should be present to keep the meeting moving forward and prevent any side topics. The moderator will also prevent it from turning into a vent session or just a re-hashing of prior mistakes. The moderator is also key to bringing the plan to paper. As we move forward into implementation of the plan, the moderator will be replaced by the accountability partner. You can optimally have the moderator and the accountability partner be one in the same, as they will have direct insight into the development of the plan and a better understanding of the underlying reasons for each goal, tactic, and action step with expected outcomes.
The meeting should begin with an update on previous plans.
Discuss accomplishments and failures. Use a SWOT analysis as a framework for everyone should focus on:
This begins the planning process as it allows everyone to understand the starting point for development. From this analysis, you can build a plan that addresses these areas. It will help avoid any pitfalls that would occur if you did not build a plan with these items as the foundation.
Use a whiteboard to greenlight goals for 12-weeks.
Give everyone the capability to promote their ideas in a non-threatening or judgmental way. By having the visions built into a large visible format allows everyone to see the plan come to fruition and avoid any unintentional omissions. Everyone can see the evolution of the plan as you build tactics and action steps based on the clearly defined goals, which are developed by the entire team.
Stick to two or three goals per 12-week plan.
By focusing on a few goals, there is a stronger probability of success. Use pillars that denote how you are going to build the house, which is your business. Include pillars (strategies) such as: client base, lead generation, target market, marketing, team support, systems and processes and education.
To expand your business, you need to add pillars or grow the pillars that exist. As you build the plan from its foundation, build tactics/action steps with clearly defined dates for completion. This is necessary for your accountability partner to hold you to a specific timeframe.
Set up specific action steps.
Be sure to assign a champion for each phase of the plan. The role of the champion is to make sure the tactics are completed, and become the accountability partner’s first point of contact. The champion is not necessarily the implementer of the action but makes sure all parties involved work together to finalize. The best way to decide a champion is to find the person most passionate about that topic.
Select an accountability partner to keep you and the plan on track.
They should a be highly organized individual who knows the business, understands your vision, and will hold you and your champions accountable to the plan.
Put the plans to paper or a shared document.
We are big fans of keeping our plans on Airtable because it can remain a living and breathing documents with our practice development team constantly updating it. We also love that it can be color coded based on goals and tactics. The champion can keep the plan updated as action steps are completed and have bi-weekly meetings with the accountability partner to review and adjust final dates when necessary.
Always set the date of your next meeting.
This makes sure that the plan continues to develop throughout the year. You do not want to walk into your next planning meeting with the same ideas. The idea is to grow and develop your business one 12 week sprint at a time. Before you know it, you will have accomplished so much when you look at your year in review.
If you aren't creating strategic plans for your business, how will you grow? Our Practice Development team and financial professionals take our planning meetings very serious because they know how much of an effect it can have on their business. If it is not on the plan, save it for the next planning session. It is easy to stray off course and get distracted by what business and life throw at you but by staying true to your plan you are actively taking the first step to grow your business that has endless opportunities.