Many of us begin the New Year with some hefty resolutions (aka goals). Unfortunately, many of us consistently have at the top of that list to lose weight (aka dieting). Any nutritionist could point to strategies and mistakes you are making if you do not achieve your weight goal. There is a commonality between the pitfalls for dieting failure and failure in achieving your business goals. If you are a Financial Professional, whose second resolution is to have a successful annual business plan, let us review five mistakes you most avoid with both resolutions.
#1 Pitfall – Vague Goals
Losing weight and building a strategic business plan both require clear, concise goal setting. Instead of stating, “I want to lose weight” affirm to exercise 5 times a week for 1 hour, or eat one fruit and 2 cups of vegetables per day or drink 60 ounces of water daily. As you can see, these measurable strategies will have more defined results for success or failure. Now let us apply it to business plan development. Be sure to limit your annual goals to 3 – 4 for the year. Anything more will over tax you and your business and lead to less effective outcomes. Each goal must have clearly defined metrics for success. Start with your financial goals for life, annuity and investment production. Be sure to research any company incentive trips and make sure the requirements for a conference invite is included in your planning. An awesome free trip or other incentive rewards will help motivate you to stay on track. As you build your tactics for these goals, be sure to quantify them so instead of “I will incorporate seminars into my practice” be more specific to the results, i.e. “I will conduct 2 seminars each month on financial planning with prospects ages 35 - 55”. The more detailed the tactic, the better chance you will be successful in achieving it and if you fail, you will have a clearer understanding as what needs to be modified in future planning.
#2 Pitfall – Following overly restrictive fad diets.
We have all fallen victim to the most current dieting fad only to find out later that any weight lost is gained back once we resume our normal eating habits. You should never eliminate an entire food group from your diet, like carbohydrates. Your diet needs to consist of all food groups to avoid cravings that lead you to other energy sources, like sugary foods. In business, we also need to have a well-balanced plan. Make sure your goals are diverse enough so that if one is not successful, there are other opportunities that bring value to your practice. Incorporate a marketing plan that includes client events (cross-sell opportunities and recommendations will come from here), educational seminars (to introduce yourself as a knowledgeable resource and trusted adviser), email campaigns (to target specific prospects that fall within your ideal client parameters), advertising on Social Media (to broaden your prospect search globally), and marketing (branding your firm). Think strategic not limiting. Do not get put off by your own self-deflating thoughts on what you can and cannot do. Try things and see what sticks. Possibly, you are a better speaker for client education seminars then you ever realized?
#3 Forgetting substitutes
Many dieters make bold statements like “I will never eat pasta again” or I will give up alcohol for good.” Inside of totally discounting these items from your diet, you need to look for substitutes that you can still enjoy but bring less calories to your plate. In business, this equates to building a plan that focuses totally on one strategy and then being disappointed when it does not bring you the desired results. Instead, look for strategies that complement and align with your goal so that you have multiple initiatives working together toward that one goal rather than relying on only one. Any business plan must consist of both short-term and long-term goals. The combination of both of these goals leads to a successful business plan. This mind-set will help with the success of many annual plans to come. Be sure to have long-term goals working in the background year after year as they may take 18 – 24 months to come to fruition. Remember there is never one quick fix to the challenges inherent in this business of obtaining qualified prospects or leads. Stay focused and set realistic expectations for success.
#4 Focusing on “Cant’s”
For your diet to have any chance of success you must reside in a headspace consumed with positive thoughts. This means finding pleasure in what foods you can have rather than what you cannot have. If you are looking for lasting change, you need to focus on all that is available to you and not what you are sacrificing. Shaping your thought process is crucial for long-term success and change. Possibly looking at your dinner plate half-full of vegetables and feeling good about how you are being mindful to your health is a start. In business planning try to select tactics that make you happy. If you enjoy golf, set up monthly golf tee times with your “A” clients. You may even end up with a referral by the 18th hole. If you enjoy meeting new people, then set up client appreciation events and ask them to bring along some like-minded friends who can become potential clients. If you are creative, create social media posts that show more of your personality. Make things fun. Business plans do not have to be all about participating in activities that you do not enjoy in order to get in front of potential prospects. Find your passions and build them into your planning. If you do not like the tactics you align with your goals, you will be less likely to complete them.
#5 Not being ready to make it happen
We all know that setting goals is difficult especially when we have to sacrifice things we enjoy. For both dieting and planning, you have to be ready to commit. This means that your diet will initially feel uncomfortable and you will have to do things like exercise rather than sit on the couch. It takes work. In planning, you will have moments where you do not see the tactics working and you will be ready to discard the plan.
We all know that resolutions are easier said than done. Stay focused. Hold yourself accountable. Results will come.