“A new practice owner must remember to stay focused,” says May. “You need to be adaptable, but also understand that there are a great many shiny things that can distract you, so staying focused on your business plan is really important.”
Remember who your client is
That focus includes your target clients. “I try to work with mums and dads who will often be getting financial advice for the first time. Taking on a high net-worth client, for example, may be financially lucrative but it will require more than I am comfortably able to deliver, so remaining true to your desired client base is also vital.”
May believes that the complexity will necessitate bringing in other experts, and that moves him farther away from his desired client.
The next thing May advises new practice owners to do is to find ways to keep doing the work that they are good at, which means finding support with the tasks that take the adviser away from their key strengths.
“I find that doing tasks that are challenging or unrewarding takes far more time for me to do than the other more productive work, so I needed to find the right admin support to help me stick to where I know I’m more effective. That includes using technology that enables me to free up my time, and having the right client management system in place.”
To ensure the new practice is adhering to the business plan, May says there is nothing more effective than tracking your own financials. Looking at your own business cash flow is the best place to start.
“Business plans and budgets are only forecasts, and putting time aside each month to track how the business cash flow is tracking is the best indicator of you staying on track. It’s essential to know early if you’re behind somewhere because all your future plans will hinge on your fundamentals being right. If you check your cash flow regularly, you can address shortfalls or others areas that need adjustment.”
The importance of culture
While May talks about staying focused as the most important thing, he also discusses another important factor in any successful business: the culture.
“A new practice owner will have a vision and idea that business should be done a certain way, and they must keep that top of mind,” May says. “For me, the most important word in my business is ‘kind’ – we want to be kind with our clients, and kind to each other. You can’t let the daily activities of business pull you away from your culture; you want people to enjoy their work and to have fun. There is a real risk that, as a practice owner grows their business, they will forget that ideal in the pursuit of growth. The right business culture is critical for the longevity of a new business.”
Sign up for our monthly enewsletter, full of insights and tips to help you in your day-to-day.
Important: This article has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial or taxation situation or needs of any particular individual. Before acting on the information, you should consider its appropriateness to your circumstances and if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. Any information used in this article is for illustrative purposes only. Steve May Financial Services is external and are not a members of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group of Companies (the Group) and the content or any view expressed by the Steve May Financial Services and its employees does not represent an endorsement, recommendation, guarantee or advice in regard to any matter. CBA, nor members of the Group accept any liability for losses or damage arising from any reliance on external parties.