What’s your 2014 plan? Hopefully more than just candy.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m fan of food, and this won’t be my last analogy incorporating something delicious in 2014.

Last week, I was looking back over 2013, identifying what I learned and can share with you in 2014. My first thought: trick-or-treating with my kids.

2 pieces of hard candy, one sucker

My kids had set a goal this year to get as many Kit Kats as they could, 100 was a good number. They’re fans and frankly, I can’t blame them. At the start of the night, I laughed at their plan, but by the end of the night, the final count was 114 Kit Kats! They had crushed their original goal of 100 Kit Kats. How in the world could a 7-and 5-year-old get that many? The answer? It was right in front of me.

Regardless of how you go about your annual planning, you should:

  1. Set clear, attainable goals – What do you want to accomplish in 2014 in your practice?  What are your sales and growth goals? What investment could you be making in infrastructure? Sit down, lay out your goals and make sure to document them.  If the goal is in writing, there is a much higher probability it will get done.  For my kids, their goal was at least 100 Kit Kats, not 10,000 – and that goal was attainable, yet somewhat of a stretch too. Your goals should follow that idea.
  2. Make sure the people around you know what your goals are – The first thing my two boys did was tell everyone around them what they wanted to accomplish.  They were clear on the type of candy they were looking for. Do the people who work with you know what you want?  What types of clients fit your model?  Far too often, we don’t share our goals and plans with those who are important in getting us there.  Make sure everyone knows what your targets are and give them the details they need to help you accomplish your goals.
  3. Get the right partners – Success these days in financial services is highly dependent on the types of partners you work with. For my kids, it was their buddies. They helped my boys reach their goals because they understood they were looking for Kit Kats and felt like they were a part of the process.  Do your partners feel that way?  Do they know you?  The types of business you do, your ideal client?  Take some time this year to leverage partners:
    1. Get a TPA partner – critical to creative plan design and efficiencies.
    2. Meet with your service provider’s service team – most advisors get referrals from the people they are already working with.
    3. CPA, Auditor, ERISA Attorney – these are influencers. What clients do you share? What clients don’t you share, and can you get an introduction?

As you think about growing your business, these are just a few easy things you can consider in 2014.  A little focus on these items can pay dividends and help you clearly identify where you should be spending time and money.

BONUS: it will strengthen your brand – people will know what you’re looking for and the ways they can work with you. Our neighborhood still thinks of my kids when they come across a Kit Kat. If kids can figure this stuff out, I know we all can too, best of luck in 2014!

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In addition to blogging here, I also tweet regularly about advisor-focused practice management topics like sales and lead generation, marketing, service and management/operations. Follow me on Twitter at @Rschutty.

 

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Affiliation Disclosures

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company. Securities are offered through Princor Financial Services Corporation, 1-800-547-7754, Member SIPC and/or independent broker dealers. Securities sold by a Princor® Registered Representative are offered through Princor. Princor and Principal Life are members of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.

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