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By Guy Holwill, Chief Executive of Fairbairn Consult

As a financial planner, you wear two hats when you are at work.  The first is as a professional who advises clients and, the second is as an entrepreneur who runs a business – whether it is just you or a larger business employing many people.


It not only about financial planning

To be a successful planner, you need to work through the six steps of financial planning where you identify your clients’ needs and implement solutions designed to help them achieve their financial goals.  You obviously do this in the context of all the relevant regulations.

Given the demands of your clients and that this is how you generate income, it is no surprise that most planners spend most of their time focusing on financial planning.  But I challenge you to think of any successful business, in any industry, where the people managing the business do not spend time thinking beyond the day-to-day activities of generating income.


Creating a shift in your business

To take your business to the next level, you need to ensure that you are spending enough time thinking like an entrepreneur and developing all aspects of your business.  To identify all the different things that you need to focus on, it’s helpful to imagine a large company, where there are different directors who are dedicated to specific functions.  Small businesses are the same – you just have fewer people and most of them will juggle multiple jobs.  You probably outsource legal, compliance and finance (so I’ll exclude these), which leaves the following critical roles.

  • The CEO creates the vision for the business and oversees all the other managers. While they are ultimately accountable for everything, a good CEO gets things done through the efforts of others rather than trying to do everything themselves.
  • The Chief Operating Officer ensures that you have solid plans in place to recover from any disaster, is responsible for your infrastructure, systems and processes, and manages your support staff.
  • The HR Director hires the right people and is responsible for their ongoing training and development. The HR Director also creates an environment where your staff are happy, fulfilled and deliver really great work.
  • The Marketing Director promotes the business and your services or products. They also build an aspirational brand to ensure that there is a steady flow of new clients.
  • The Customer Experience Director ensures that your clients’ experience is so good that they never think about leaving and, instead, feel compelled to tell their friends and family about you.
  • The Sales Director drives new business and ensures that the focus is on clients who contribute the most value.

When you look at this list, are you certain that someone in your business is giving sufficient attention to each of these items?  If you are responsible for all of them, are you taking enough time out from the day-to-day business of generating an income to spend time thinking about this?

If you are not giving sufficient attention to all these items, you must accept you are choosing to run a business that is not as successful as it could be.


Create an exit strategy for yourself

Lastly, all entrepreneurs have an exit strategy.  What this means is entirely up to you.  It can range from handing the business over to others over several years to selling the business and moving onto the next one.  Either way, for you to remain in control of your exit, you must remember that the main goal for any entrepreneur is to develop your business to the point that you are redundant.