Business burnout doesn’t happen overnight, but once it strikes, it can make you miserable. Everywhere you look, there’s a fire to put out. And by the time you’ve extinguished it, another day of productivity went up in flames. There is a way to increase your energy, effectiveness, and efficiency–and banish business burnout for good. When you evaluate 7 critical areas in your business (and their related activities), you can create standards and processes to help you run your firm proactively.
How many of the following areas in your financial firm need an overhaul? Use these descriptions to think through and establish your time- and money-saving processes. Addressing each of these areas protects you from the overwhelm of business burnout. And leaves the firefighting to the firefighters.
1. Core Competencies: Built-In Business Burnout Protection
This is about building a strong company foundation. Defining these items helps you think like the CEO of your company. It gives you a wider perspective and helps cut down on knee-jerk decisions. With your core competencies in place, you’ll cut down on frantic decision-making and (you guessed it) business burnout!
Your firm’s core competencies include your company name, value proposition, ideal client profile, Go/No Go Matrix (a tool that helps in the onboarding decision-making process), SWOT analysis, strengths of the owner(s), and the features/benefits of your services. It also includes your business growth and marketing plan comprised of: your 1-year vision, exit vision, a date-in-between vision, mission statement, goals, strategies, action plans, and to-do list. Add your pricing sheet, hours of operation, and a business snapshot (or elevator pitch). As you organize around your core competencies, you’ll also address: designing your office, time management, productivity, creating the right business model with the right number of staff, and succession planning.
2. Branding: Two Business Burnout Busters
With your core foundation intact, you can have your outer brand created. Through branding, the inner brand you created with your core foundation is brought to the forefront. It is represented by your logo, printed marketing materials (business cards, stationery, flyers, postcards, brochures) and online marketing (website, blog, social networking, etc.). When you define your company’s identity visually, you save time explaining who you are and who your ideal clients are. Another tip: don’t try to do this yourself! Hire a graphic artist and website developer. Give these experts your ideal client profile and business and marketing plan to help them bring your brand to life. Creating your authentic brand boosts confidence…and definitely busts business burnout.
3. Client Engagement: Daily Business Burnout Prevention
New client acquisition includes a host of topics that turn strangers into prospects and then into clients (if they are your ideal clients). Working with the right clients alleviates a lot of stress for three reasons: 1) you are working with people who bring a smile to your face, 2) you are not working with people who drive you crazy, a.k.a, clients from hell, and 3) these lovely people know more lovely people they can refer to you, which makes your job easier. (Can you see how this area prevents business burnout daily?)
Tools to develop this area include: Go/No Go chart, client segmentation chart, client segmentation activity list, intake process, referral packets, thank you letters, turndown letters, meeting reminder forms, welcome kit, and transfer forms. Client appreciation/loyalty processes help you retain clients and keep them for the long term. They include: portfolio management systems, greeting clients, thank you ideas, articles, address changes, appointment sheets, annual interview and surveying, and client appreciation events. Client exit includes a process for "firing" a client and a checklist for when a client wants to leave, a leaving survey, and transfer forms.
Don’t Despair! It Does Get Easier.
At this point, you may be thinking, “Whoa, I don’t have time for all this! I’m getting burned out just reading about burnout!” Yes, this is a lot of work. That’s why people don’t do it. But it’s one of those paradigms where you really don’t have time NOT to do it. My coaching experience with hundreds of business owners has proven if you put these processes in place, you WILL experience MUCH less business burnout. And guess what? Once you have done the work, you only need three hours per year to update everything. So tackle one section at a time. Some of them overlap! That’s why when you’re done, your firm will run like a well-oiled machine!
4. Marketing and Sales: Generate Buzz, Not Business Burnout
Your branding extends to both your online and offline marketing and sales plan. Every firm requires processes for managing referrals, networking and follow-up, and strategic alliances. This way, you are not re-inventing the wheel each time you must follow up with leads or partners. You’ll also need an editorial calendar and a marketing calendar so that you don’t have to stress about topics you want to concentrate on when you’re educating your prospects through your marketing efforts. If an opportunity pops up to submit an expert article, you’ll be prepared! Don’t forget to create a list of the ways you’ll touch different client segments throughout the year, including personal meetings, phone calls, client appreciation events, and social media efforts. Most of the items on this list can be done by an assistant! Save your "personal touch" efforts for your AAA clients.
5. Administration: Reduce Business Burnout from People Problems
It is essential to address how you interact, communicate, and work with your team and vendors. This includes the following items for each part-time, full-time and consulting position: job description, want ads, goals, interview questions and/or tests, an evaluation process, offer letter template, background checks, pay levels, operations manual, bonus compensation process and firing process. On the vendor side, you must decide how you choose vendors, how you work and negotiate with vendors, and how you fire vendors. You approach subjects such as teamwork, communications, mindset, focus, accountability, innovation, and improvement. You can’t avoid all "people problems", but you can prevent some by being proactive and being clear about your policies.
6. Operations: Using Systems and Processes to Banish Burnout
Every system used to run your firm, by its very nature, helps keep burnout at bay. This includes all written systems, processes, and templates, as well as computer databases, reports, and automation systems. Of course, there will be overlap with systems used in the Core Foundation, Branding, Client Services, Marketing/Sales, and Administration of your firm.
7. Last, But Not Least, YOU!
When your business reflects your personal and professional values and visions, you truly have it all! Even though I list this area last, undergoing some life coaching usually precedes the formulation of your firm’s Core Competencies. This way, the business you create is truly based on YOUR values and vision.
My clients choose from important topics we prioritize together, which can include: yearly theme, dream board, zapping tolerations, simplifying your life, reorienting around your values, WOW list, your mission, your vision, your values, clearing the past, becoming a problem-free zone, restoring your integrity, your life plan, creating new daily habits, getting your needs met, budgeting/handling money, your health, organizing your office or home, setting boundaries, reaffirming your standards, creating a reserve and super reserve, life snapshot, strengthen your family, deepening your community, 28 principles of attraction, being well-protected, choosing your work, improving your communications skills and attitude, and investing in your life.
Many business owners experience burnout when their original intentions of creating their "dream" firm disintegrate with the constant battle of putting out fires. If you’re not walking into your company fired up because you’re battling business burnout, chances are many of the areas above need work. Choose one, dig in, and see how quickly you can turn things around.
© 2013, updated 2016 Elevating Your Business, Maria Marsala, Strategic Business Coach