One of the biggest mistakes most financial advisors make is not having a business plan or real goals. And for those who do have a plan, the second mistake is not sticking to it.
Your business plan should be written, but more importantly it needs to be tangible. "Finishing your year strong" is very important, however it's even more important to "increase production next year."
Most advisors want to grow, but the big question is what they're doing about it. Without goals how do you know when you have arrived at your destination? Here at the Rummage Group, we consult with thousands of financial advisors each year. When we ask them if they have a written plan, 80% to 90% do not. When we ask them what their short- and long-term goals are (say one to 20 years), most of them can't tell us because they don't know themselves.
This is shocking to us, but it probably shouldn't be. Most individuals live most of their lives without any type of life goals or planning.
We all give lip service to wanting to become great in our careers. Most of us really do want more out of life, but the question is what we are doing about it.
The truth is that most people go through life doing the same thing over and over. Each year is like the one before. It reminds me of two movies, "Joe versus The Volcano" and "Office Space" where every day was boring to the point of depression for the main characters.
People do not like change very much-it's just not part of our DNA. We are creatures of habit and it is hard to break them. Most psychologists will tell you it takes about two months to break an old habit.
I have referenced the book, "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman in the past. It is a great book that talks about our emotional state and how it can affect our actions and behaviors.
This book helps us understand we may be trapped, but with some hard work we can become free. You don't have to be one of the individuals who just get by. With hard work and planning you can become one of the great ones. You will have to fight your habits and impulses but it's possible.
History does not have to keep repeating itself year after year. You can in fact create your own history.
BREAK IT DOWN & BACK IN
The first step in goal setting is to know what you really want and need. If it's what your manager or spouse wants, it is unlikely to happen. You must be confident in your desires. People find time to do those things that are important to them. So if it's not really important to you it won't get done. When setting goals you need to pick something that you really want. It also helps if not reaching your goal will cause you pain, but that is not always in your control.
Once your decide on your goal, break them down into daily actions. If your goal is to do $500,000 in production, you will need to do about $2,083 per day or $41,660 per month-considering 240 working days per year. Managing smaller goals makes it easier to maintain your focus.
Over the years I have actually kept a point system for daily activities. This helps keep individuals on track for those willing to keep a point system.
If your goal is to secure 50 new clients per year, you need about one per week. Depending on your closing ratio, that works out to two to five new prospect meetings each week.
You should always back into your goals using your known closing ratio. If you are going to do seminars and you know your closing ratio is 5%, then to secure one new client each seminar you need 20 attendees. If your goal is to secure 50 new clients each year you need 1,000 attendees at your seminars.
You could do one seminar with 1,000 attendees or 10 seminars with 100 attendees. Either way you need to have these figures written into your business plan broken down by days and weeks.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
People are very visual. Plus, we tend to focus on very few things. Having your goals where you can see them every day is preferred.
If not, you need to at least pull them out of the drawer regularly. I often hang my goals in bullet format from the bottom of my monitor. This way I am forced to see them every day.
In addition to having your goals where you can see them, I would recommend you have a motivational photo. Visualization is very important when trying to reach your goals. Think about something that you really want or that motivates you. For some it's a photo of their kids and others of a dream vacation house. Either way if you see it every day it will help motivate you to do the hard tasks.
Next, determine your weaknesses and assign yourself training to improve. We all are weak in some area, even if we don't admit it.
If you feel you are a little weak at closing, then buy some audio training from some of the great closers. If you are disorganized, take a Franklin Covey training class. (I did this and it was fantastic, I highly recommend it.)
At the Rummage Group, we have an audio/media library and are constantly training to become better at helping advisors with their careers.
Not sticking to your plan is unacceptable. I try to discipline myself if I miss my goals. Of course, it has to be something of consequence for it to matter.
For example, my company has had a great year, but I personally did not quite achieve my personal goals. I was very excited about getting a new boat this year, but now I will have to stick with the SS Failure.
When I am getting beaten up this summer because my boat is too small for the waves, it will be a constant reminder that I missed my goals. For those of you who are fishermen, you will appreciate this consequence. The point is to take something away that matters to you. Hold yourself accountable for your lack of effort.
In summary, having a plan of attack is vitally important. Most individuals don't plan because they are afraid they won't stick to it.
It is akin to joining a gym in January, but to be back on the couch eating potato chips by February. I would challenge you to have goals for 2013 and stick to them.
If you have never planned in the past, make this your year. If you do and you make it a priority, your life will improve.
If you don't, you will be just like the other 80% to 90% who don't achieve greatness. If you don't hold yourself accountable, no one else will.
Life is too short to be mediocre.
Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of the Rummage Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.