As 2020 eases into place, it’s a good time to reflect on how to make this year even better than the last. Simple steps, vetted and explained by MDRT members, can open up new opportunities and possibilities. Here’s an item to put on your to-do list from Kathleen R. Benjamin, CFP, CPA, a 15-year MDRT member from Timonium, Maryland.
Write a one-page business plan
Having a written business plan creates clarity for you and your team. Keeping the plan to literally one page really helps you stay focused on it.
The one-page business plan is broken up into the following five sections.
Vision statement. This helps you define how big you want your business and what you want to accomplish. It also clarifies what type of business you’re in or want to be in. Is it employee benefits? Is it working with families? Define the ideal type of business you’re trying to create, and identify two to three of your key products or services that are part of that vision. Put a time period in there too.
This is my current vision statement: At BFG Financial Advisors, we want to become a national financial advisory firm. We want to serve about 500 families by providing and implementing comprehensive financial plans. By 2023, we want our firm to have a certain number of assets under management, generating a certain amount of revenue.
Mission statement. Why does the business exist? Who are you going to work with? What value do you bring to them? What is your unique selling proposition? What are you committed to providing the client, and what wants, needs, desires, pain or problems do your products or services alleviate for the clients?
My mission statement is: We work with families to grow, protect and preserve their wealth through multigenerational legacy planning.
I can show this to any one of my employees, and they’re going to understand exactly what we’re trying to do. A well-written mission statement attracts customers and also drives behavior within your organization.
The key to meaningful objectives is to identify goals that are critical to your success and can be easily tracked. Don’t set a goal if you don’t have access to information you can evaluate.
Objectives. All objectives should be measurable goals. They define what kind of action is going to be taken, and how the results will be measured. Include a numerical value in every objective, and assign a name and date for accountability.
The key to the meaningful objectives is to identify goals that are critical to your success and can be easily tracked. Don’t set a goal if you don’t have access to information you can evaluate.
It’s important to include different types of objectives to cover your practice. What you’re trying to do is cover all the bases for your practice. At the end of the day, we all know that what gets measured gets achieved.
Strategies. These tend to be longer-term, more than a year, goals. They set the direction, philosophy, values and methodology for building and managing your company. You look at a process or goal you want to achieve and try to define what you can do to achieve that. These are the established guidelines and boundaries for evaluating business decisions: Is it in alignment with these strategies?
For example, we just got a new client-resource management system, and we want to expand the use of it. That’s a goal that will help us grow our business in the long term. How are we going to do that? We’re going to use it to identify opportunities, improve service, and do real-time measurement on how fast and consistently we’re creating a process.
Action plans. These represent specific actions the business must take to implement the strategies and to achieve objectives. A simple formula is: Pick your project, a start and complete date, and the person who is assigned to it if you have multiple people working on it.
Ideally, each action plan relates to an objective or a strategy, but you won’t have one for every objective and strategy. Otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed, and you won’t get anything done.
Typically no more than two action plans are assigned for a quarter. In a smaller practice, you might have one big overarching action plan if it’s a major undertaking, like merging a practice.
You have a clear, concise business plan. That’s your first draft. Now share it with your partners and employees. Take good notes on their feedback to refine it and make sure it’s an understandable document.
After you have a business plan for the practice, each individual on your team should create their own and then review those monthly. This ensures support of the company’s one-page business plan.
Find four more strategies to organize your business and your life in the Round the Table.
For more about writing business plans, see these MDRT meeting presentations:
- “One-page business plan for top producers”
- “Without a plan, all change is turbulent,” from MDRT Past President Mark J. Hanna, CLU, ChFC [MDRT members only]