Bernie DeLaRosa, ​CFP®, ChFC® CRPC®, CLU®, APMA®, CASL®, BFA™
Managing Business Consultant

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The Anatomy of Your Business Plan

Put Flesh on Those Bones and Watch Them Come to Life

As I traveled around the country the past couple months, I have reviewed numerous business plans. While it is reassuring that most all the practices have a business plan in place for 2019, I get the sense that this is a task completed, checked off the list and then left behind. Another thing crossed off the to-do list and not much more. However, establishing goals for the new year and completing the Business Planning template is only the beginning, a foundational skeleton.

There is definitely more to the process and the work of implementing your plan if you want to see those goals excite and ignite your team to action. If you want this plan to come alive, use what you have done as a point of beginning and understand this will be a work in progress. Then you will begin to see your team rally around the business plan and clearly understand what needs to happen to implement it.

So, find that business plan you put together and let’s ensure it breathes life into your practice:

The head - Leadership

You must be able to follow the leader. If there is any confusion in your plan, it is up to the leadership to clarify it and your role in carrying it out. John Maxwell said in The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Think about the leadership of your practice and how each person sets the tone, the pace and the direction of your practice. Part of your plan for 2019 should include building your leadership skills, and that includes those who are not yet leaders. 

The eyes - Vision

Cast the vision. Create a one, three, five or ten-year plan. Make sure everyone on the team can see where you are heading and what the future of your practice will look like. Always keep it before them, so they don’t lose their way or go off in a different direction. A compelling vision is one people will gladly follow, even when things are difficult. 

The ears - Focused Listening

One of the service values of The Ritz-Carlton is always to be responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of their guests or in our world, clients. This requires a culture of listening and translating what they are saying (or even not saying) they want. Then, turning that into service and support that delights your clients. So many of our advisors and their staff want to provide this level of service. If you are among those, you must always be tuned in.

This is done through client satisfaction surveys, client advisory councils and simply asking. Be sensitive to their body language, their tone of voice, and subtleties the client may offer. 

The arms - Care

If you don’t care, you need to find something else to do. There are too many people showing up to work in this world that only want to do just enough to get by and then call it a day. We are fortunate at Jambalaya Group that most of those folks won’t bother to hire us. That is why I know that most of you do care about the clients you serve. People are asking you to help their dreams come true, trusting you with their life’s savings and, even more importantly, their legacy. There must be a high level of care.

The hands - Productivity

“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” Proverbs 10:4. The plan will not get you where you want to go, but the execution of the plan will. That means the plan will degenerate into work. However, consider this:

“A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.”

This quote from Louis Nizer leads me to think differently about what we do. We paint a picture of what is possible for our clients. Make it a masterpiece! (And of course, I am not making a gender-based statement here; please know that “she who works with her hands, her head and her heart, is indeed also an artist.”)

The torso - Core

Keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t go off on tangents, try to do someone else’s job or lose sight of your true mission and purpose. Exercise your core strength in your work each day. Build muscle to do the work of a world-class financial planning firm.

The heart - Values

Live your values. That requires that everyone in your organization knows what they are and holds one another accountable. If you don’t live out your values, if it’s just a sign on the wall or a section of your employee handbook, you are missing the very heart of your business (and we may need to get the paddles and call “clear”).

The legs - Momentum

Time to get moving. We need to see momentum. Each person in the practice should know their part and be able to travel at the speed you are going. Seeing momentum builds confidence and excitement. It will solve 80% of your problems. Remember to point out the milestones along the way. 

The feet - Project Planning

Now that you have put your plan together, we need the step-by-step directions. Bringing the strategic vision into practical, actionable steps is what your project plan is designed to do for you. We are more committed than ever to getting project plans to be all-inclusive.

It would be the equivalent of having your practice write a financial plan with only half the assets. In some cases, we have discovered practices that have multiple inboxes for their projects. This creates confusion and can sabotage your efforts. It doesn’t matter where the idea or project originates, be sure to list all your projects on only one project plan. This will allow you to coordinate efforts, help ensure you don’t take on too much at one time and allow for smooth integration of your initiatives.

Let your feet carry out your plans and take you to the place you are going.

I look forward to helping and watching business plans come to life in the new year. Jambalaya Group provides the right mix of expertise for your business. Let us know how we can better serve you. If this is the case, consider what you have observed.