How to ensure your Firm’s business plan is right for you

How to ensure your Firm’s business plan is right for you
November 27, 2017 Scott Charlton

There’s a critical personal element that’s likely preventing your Firm from reaching its potential
By Scott Charlton

Summary
Unless the plan you have for your business aligns with what’s important to you personally, then it’s the wrong plan.

Introduction
This month I am excited to be rolling out a brand new program for accounting and financial planning professionals. Unusually for a business coach, this is program has absolutely nothing to do with productivity improvements, marketing, revenue growth or pricing one’s services.

Instead, it has everything to do with what’s important to the practitioner attendees themselves. Dare I say, this program won’t touch much on the participants’ businesses at all. In fact, an intense personal focus will feature throughout the day.

In this brief article, I’ll be explaining how the course came to be and why I think it’s important. I hope that you will relate. Ideally, the realisations I share will be the catalyst to reflect and act upon your own situation.

Where business plans fail their owners
As a long term advocate of practitioners having a written business plan, it may seem somewhat disingenuous for me to be critical of those who actually take this step.

And yet, if one is going to go to this effort, I believe that it’s essential to set a plan which ticks all the boxes.

In my experience, it’s not unusual for practitioners to come up with plans for their business that sound impressive but in reality are deeply flawed. Although these flaws are many and varied, there are some common themes which trigger a warning light on this Coach’s dashboard. Let’s explore the ones that trouble me the most.

  1. That resourcing the plan relies predominately on the Principals working longer hours. Alas, this is a ticket for professional burnout and becoming disconnected from one’s family.
  2. No allowance is made for Principals to take time out to refresh and recharge over and above taking annual leave.
  3. That there is no mention of senior practitioners’ intentions to reduce hours or exit altogether, much less any specific plans to make this happen.
  4. That no account is made of principals’ particular interests – specialising, spending more time with key clients, mentoring team members, representing the Firm at external events or any other area that is professionally captivating to the person concerned.

If any of these conditions are prevalent for one or more of the Principals then it’s doubtful the business plan will feature much in the Firm’s decision making. Instead, the plan will quietly fade from view and it will be back to business as it’s always been done.

Why business plans get shelved
Professional practices are unusual business enterprises, relying very heavily on the hearts, minds and expertise of the people who depart the office each day – none more so than the working owners.

It’s my contention that unless these practitioners sense a direct connection between the Firm’s business plan and what’s important to them personally then they will not be invested in the plan’s accomplishment.

This doesn’t even have to be represented by conscious thought. A practitioner who looks at his/her Firm’s plan may intuitively sense, “That’s a lot of work. I’m already flat out. I’ve got nothing left to give”. In such cases, it’s entirely understandable that practitioners quietly go back to doing what they have always done.

Establishing a deep personal connection
Professionals in practice are often their own worst enemy, spending so much time attending to their clients that they invest little time thinking about themselves.

I’ve come to the view that a formal process whereby what’s important to the practitioner is identified and documented is a vital component of a business plan that is enthusiastically supported.

Part of the process should be devoted to how the Firm’s business plan incorporates what’s important to the Practitioners personally. This is quite a departure from normal business planning procedure.

Introducing the Personal Breakaway
Many readers of this article will have heard of, or even undertaken, Slipstream Coaching’s two day Business Breakaway planning workshop for accounting and financial planning firms.

I’m very pleased that we now have a companion Personal Breakaway workshop, the outcome of which is a one page personal plan, not dissimilar to the one page business plan developed during the Business Breakaway.

The critical difference is that the personal plan focuses on the Practitioner not the business.

As could be reasonably expected, the resultant plan includes personal values and purpose, unique abilities and personal standards. More than this though it includes photos of loved ones, an Instinctive Drives chart and activities deemed good for the soul of respective participants. One’s Bucket List, health and fitness plus personal financial requirements are also accommodated.

The outcome of the day-long Personal Breakaway is a plan which covers all aspects of the Practitioner’s being, with a final section itemising what needs to be reflected in the Firm’s business plan for there to be high level alignment.

In October 2017, we launched the Personal Breakaway pilot event with great success and will be announcing two workshops in 2018.

Conclusion
I’m convinced that the Personal Breakaway addresses an aspect which to date has been missing from the planning horizon for accounting and financial planning professionals.

The intended outcome is more joy in the lives of practitioners and their families, together with more business plans enthusiastically achieved.

About
Scott Charlton is a director of Slipstream Coaching, a company dedicated to assisting financial practitioners achieve their potential. A long term business coach to both accountants and financial planners, Scott is also the author of three books regarding professionals in practice. Scott can be contacted by phone 0409 870 330 or via email scott@slipstreamcoaching.com.au.