It’s hard to believe we are already in the fourth quarter of 2017. It may seem like you’re still trying to wrap your arms around this year, but it’s already time to look at your plans for 2018. Your first step should be to create goals and direction for your practice. We have a full 90 days to prepare for 2018, so there’s no excuse for not having a great year.
Being around Coach Bob Knight for four years taught me a lot about planning for success. Many said that if you gave Coach Knight a week to prepare for a team, he would likely win the game. I encourage you to consider the things that he did to plan, and apply them to your business.
Set reasonable but high goals for the season. As an owner of your financial services business, you need to have overarching goals for the year. Where do you want your business to be at the end of 2018, and how does that fit into your long-term strategy?
At Indiana University, we had three goals for the season:
Each step built on the next. No goal was unreasonable. And, if successful, the year added to the history of Indiana basketball and gave our fans great enjoyment. Notice that our goals were to win every game. Conference season is difficult, but it is not unreasonable to think that we can win the conference. And, we didn’t set out to win the NCAA tournament every year. However, we wanted to survive and advance as far as our team possibly could.
Assess your strengths and weaknesses – honestly. Coach would consult with many of his mentors to ask how to use certain players. Some players were not good handling the ball; others were lightning quick. Using the players to their strengths was critical to game day and the season’s goal attainment.
You need to take a hard look at your personnel and the strengths and weaknesses, even if you are a sole practitioner. My business coach helps me conduct a 360-degree review of both my direct reports and direct superiors. It’s uncomfortable to hear confidential and anonymous feedback, but it helps me adjust my leadership to the team – where I need to improve or what they like from me.
You might ask yourself some questions like:
Take serious stock in yourself, your people, and what they need from you to grow.
Plan with discipline. After taking stock of what players could do well and not so well, we would play to our strengths and avoid our weakness. For each game, Coach determined the other team’s strengths and how our players could best neutralize those strengths. We then worked for the entire week on those plays and rules that gave us the best chance to win.
Sometimes, players were put in uncomfortable positions, but not out of their skill level. Learning how to play a slightly new role requires repetition. So, we repeated those key factors to winning throughout the week in many different scenarios. Practice was intended to be harder than the actual game.
Similarly, you need to plan your client marketing and interactions with the same discipline. Too often, we think placing products and talking with clients is “selling or marketing.” I argue that we have to set aside time and dedicate resources to disciplined marketing to our intended audience. You have to schedule time to network, work on scripts for advertisements, complete video shoots, rehearse radio shows, and plan for client events on a regular basis.
Once engaged with a specific client, we have to utilize a disciplined, repeatable, and consistent review process to make the best interest recommendations. Just like planning for a new team the next weekend, you have to plan the same way for the next client. Solutions and how make recommendations will be specific to the client, just like playing against a different team requires different tactics.
Prepare to Win. Winning 30 games during the 1987 season requires a lot more detail than this blog allows. However, I think that Coach followed a similar process every year. I’ve tried to follow a similar process in business as well. I set high and realistic goals, know my strengths and weaknesses for those goals and where I have to improve, and execute a consistent game plan that works toward my goals, knowing each situation is different.
My favorite quote is sports is, “Everyone has a will to win; few have a will to prepare to win.” I always took this lesson to heart from my time with Coach Knight. Apply it to business to have success in 2018.
Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”
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