Let’s be honest. Building a sustainable business as a financial advisor isn’t easy. There’s no question, you need to be exceptional at what you do. But, are you exceptional in how you do it?
Do you run your business like a true CEO? Are you a respected, inspiring leader to your team? Or do these aspects of your business suffer because you’re stuck in the one-dimensional mindset of being an advisor?
Financial Advisors as Business Leaders
We are at a tipping point in our profession. Advisors who begin to see their practice as a well-rounded business – and effectively run it that way – will gain something I like to call The Sustainable Edge. These advisors will control the competitive landscape in the short-term and set the standard for years to come. Look around you, and you’ll quickly realize the visionaries in our profession, as well as any other industry, are living by these nine nuggets of wisdom.
1. The First Secret to Success Is… There Is No Secret!
Womp, womp. I know. But even the brightest visionaries and smartest trailblazers understand they can never trace their success back to one secret. It’s all the little things done exactly right that have an astonishing impact on the world. Hall of Fame basketball coach, John Wooden, said it best, “It’s the little things that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
2. Live Life by Design, Not by Default
I’ve been telling advisors around the country these exact words for decades. It’s amazing how many of us–and this goes well beyond advisors–just wake up every morning and float through life without a burning desire; without design. Connect your subconscious mind with a strong why. List the 6 Most Important things to accomplish each and every day, in order of priority, to hit the long-term goals you set for yourself. Your goals should be defined with incredible clarity, painting a detailed picture of your future. Start 20 years out, notate your age, think about where your kids will be, and write out every detail you can possibly imagine. Come back and do the same for 10 years, 5 years, and even one year from now. Before you know it, you’ll have memorialized a detailed document of the things meaningful to you – and more importantly, a clear destination to march toward.
3. You Can Be An Overnight Success…
If you spend a lifetime preparing for it. Take Picasso as an example. I once heard the story of a man who walked into a café in Vienna and saw the artist sitting down at a table. He walked up and simply said, “Hey you’re Picasso! Can you sketch me something?” Picasso agreed and entertained the man by drawing something up in just over a minute. Surprised by what he witnessed, the man offered to pay him for his time. “It’s free,” said Picasso. “No I insist on paying you,” said the man. So, Picasso responded by saying “Well, then it’s $10,000 dollars.” “But it only took you 90 seconds!” the man said. Picasso smiled and responded, “Yes, but I’ve been preparing a lifetime to do it that fast.” Too many times, people live their entire lives amassing knowledge but, when it really matters, they don’t have the confidence to charge for their value proposition. Believe enough in your value to charge appropriately for it, be confident in what you provide, and “overnight success” is more likely to happen.
4. Take Responsibility and Give Credit to All Stakeholders
You can’t overdo this one. A good leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Don’t be shy in recognizing accomplishments, taking ownership of failures, and giving credit to your internal stakeholders. Your team will appreciate it, and your clients will feel it.
5. Always Start Your Next S-Curve Before You Finish the One You’re On
As a business owner, you must recognize the current stage of growth you’re in, as well as the stage of evolution you’re about to experience. Be proactive in business planning, understand what changes are necessary in order to reach your next level of growth, and get ahead of industry trends. Those who rest on their laurels in times of growth are the ones who quickly realize their complacency just made them obsolete.
6. Develop a Passion that Pays
You’ll never work another day and you’ll be much better at it. Know your “why” and the “how” will present itself. Weave your passions and interests into your business, connect with clients who share hobbies, and enjoy your business again. Life’s too short for anything else.
7. Take Care of Yourself
You must be selfish in order to be selfless. You can’t be valuable to the people that count on you without first looking at yourself. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, be well-rested (see #8) and you’ll take strides in being a more effective leader.
8. Get Enough Sleep
So many people underestimate the importance of sleep. Read the book Power Sleep by Dr. James Maas. Enough said.
9. Continuously Seek Wisdom
I view my life as a bucket with a hole in the bottom. Dump out the old and fill in with the new. Fresh, vibrant information constantly pours into the top of my bucket while the old useless, irrelevant information drains out the bottom. Never fall in love with how you’re currently doing something. Those at the top of any successful business push themselves out of their comfort zone to learn and achieve more.
More than 30 years as an advisor has taught me several of these entrepreneurial lessons. Some surprised me along the way. Others, well, only time and experience could teach. No matter what stage of growth your business is in today, take these nine nuggets of wisdom and start running your business like you mean it. Become a CEO. Be a better leader. And, never underestimate that how you lead as a business owner is just as critical as what you accomplish.
As the first step toward being a better leader, I’ll share with you the IQGrower Process that Scott Ford and I created. Download the IQ Grower Exercise now and use it. In fact, I challenge you to use the IQGrower for 30 days–along with implementing the 9 steps above–and see what it does for you as a leader, a business owner and a member of your community and family. Tweet using the hashtag #IQGrower to share your progress and engage with our community of advisors.
For advisor use only. Not intended for client distribution.