Question: Why is it important to form a business plan when starting your own practice? What elements are essential to an advisor's business plan, and who should an advisor consult for help on a business plan?
Peter Konrad, CLU, LUTCF
Intergraded Financial Concepts, Inc.
It is vital that you have a road map to know where you want to go and how to get there. Even more important is that the road map leads to the right destination. The first part of the process is to do a little soul searching and discover who or what you want to become. This is the definition of a vision statement. Next, create a brief statement describing how you are going to get there, this becomes the mission statement. When your destination or goal is clear, your plan will be clear.
One very vital ingredient to a business plan is accountability. With that in mind, a business plan should spell out who will do what, by when. If you are not responsible for a task, who is? And when does it need to be completed so the balance of the plan can come together? Again, a business plan maps the best route to achieving success. Remember the old proverb, “a man without a dream will perish.”
Remember the old proverb, “a man without a dream will perish.”
A business plan built on the elements of who does what by when becomes an invaluable tool that can be easily updated and amended as needed. By the way, don't forget everyone that may be affected, including family and community groups you are involved in.
Insight is invaluable. With that in mind, I would ask a mentor in the industry to help me discover what my unique talents are. Your top clients make a great sounding board, so interview them. This shows you respect them and their opinions. Ask questions like, “What did you appreciate most about our transaction? In other words, What am I doing right?” Or, “If I could improve one aspect of my practice what do you think it should be?” As you know, you’re asking about what you need improvement on, or need to hire someone to do. All this information will help build the road map that will help you become whatever you want to be.
Ray D. Hunt, LUTCF, CLTC
HUNT Financial Group, Inc.
There are a number of reasons to write a business plan. One that is often overlooked is the fact that a business plan demonstrates the agent is serious about his business. If an agent is not taken seriously, it will be hard to achieve his goals and purpose.
A business plan also ensures that everyone in the agency is working toward the same goal. It will help monitor the agency’s progress and guide any course corrections that might be needed. A plan will also help the agent manage the growth of the business.
I would include the following as essential elements of a business plan:
- Title page
- Table of contents
- Executive summary page
- Company overview
- Products and services the agent plans to offer
- Market analysis
- Marketing plan
- Financial plan
The marketing plan is key for a new agent developing a business, and the financial plan should include the agent’s short-term and long-term goals.
There are several places an agent can go for help with business plans. They include:
- The library—for books on business plans
- Software programs like BizPlan
- Internet resources
- Leadership in Life Institute (LILI) courses
- Business consultants
Creating a business plan is a big part of the LILI program and it is where I first started developing one. I would recommend that any agent who is serious about drafting a business plan or becoming involved as an association leader take part in the LILI program.
The LILI program is dedicated to building business and association leaders. The curriculum includes topics such as time management, vision and mission statements, business plans, and ways to create better, deeper relationships in every aspect of advisors’ lives. The program concentrates specifically on balancing family, business and association commitments. It is open to all NAIFA members, but is only available in some sates. For more information on the LILI program, visit the NAIFA website.