Issues that effect building a company and it’s executives.

Systems Create Space To Grow

Routines make life easier and more predictable. Creating routines in your business do that and so much more. Below are some benefits advisors gain when they create systems within their business.

  1. Keeps you on track to reach your business goals.
  2. Measures your successes or look for ways to improve.
  3. Shows you where you’re leaking profit!
  4. Enables you to be more productive and get more work done without distraction or if there is a distraction to more quickly refocus!
  5. Helps your team to define their roles and set better goals and priorities.
  6. Catch work that is falling through the cracks.
  7. Enables you to maintain growth.
  8. Improves the value of your firm.
  9. Substantially saves new employee training time.
  10. Creates a fun atmosphere for your team, colleagues and of course, your clients.
  11. Attracts more clients with consistent marketing messages.
  12. Allows the consultants you hire to get their work done more efficiently.
  13. Allows an owner to build a business that easily operates without you!

Systems become habit and gives your staff time to do other work. When you create a new system give it a 2-3 word name as that will help make it more memorable.

(c) 2016 Elevating Your Business.

Advisors: #1 Reason to Create an Exit Plan

Your clients and future clients want you to have an exit plan.

Fotolia_63269304_Subscription_XXL200None of us can guarantee that we’ll be here tomorrow.

None of us can guarantee that our business will be here or that “mother nature” won’t destroy our firms.

Because I work with advisors, individuals always ask me for tips and recommendations on hiring an advisor.   During many conversations, they’ll often tell me that they’re afraid to hire a solo-owner or small firms, mostly because of continuity issues.

When you work for a firm and leave, chances are that  clients will become their clients.  (Hopefully, until they find you).   If you were to die tomorrow, someone at the firm will help them.  So succession isn’t a top of mind question for your clients. They know that someone will take care of them.

When you own your firm, your clients wonder what would happen if something happened to you. This is more “top of mind” if you’re a small company.  It’s often the elephant in the room.  (Hint: It’s up to you to have that conversation with them and give them your succession plan!).

So if you don’t have a succession plan because you’re too busy, it isn’t important, you’re too young, or your part of the financial industry doesn’t force you to have one via regulation, think again.  A succession plan is one of  the essential pieces of a solid and comprehensive business foundation.  Create a succession plan because your clients want you to have it! (even if they don’t say it)

There is nothing more important than your client’s or prospect’s peace of mind…

Consider your clients and create one in February.  If nothing else, start the exit plan process by creating a vision of how you’ll be ending your business and how your clients will seamlessly be taken care of.

(c) 2016 Elevating Your Business.  Maria Marsala, owner, and writer on this Marketing With Integrity Blog.

Don’t have a succession vision?  Create yours this month at a short online workshop. Learn more and sign up here



How advisors can earn more in 2016

There really are no magic bullets to growing a firm, but below are a few possible goals and strategies to get you started on the road to be more successful in 2016 than you were in 2015*.

A few goals to get you thinking about growing:

  • Increase the number of clients from ___ to _____ by ____(date).
  • Add ___ new paid services by ____ (date).
  • Increase the value of the average transaction per client from ____ to ____by ____(date).
  • Increase the number of transactions per client from ___ to ____by ____(date).
  • Decrease expenses from ___ to ____per client by ____(date).
  • Decrease the number of ways we market from ___ ways to ____ ways by ____(date).
  • Hire ___ new employees/contractors/outsourcers by ___ (date).

Here are some strategies to consider

  • Determne a better long-term business model (one that meets my personal goals) by _____(date).
  • Become known for _________________________________.
  • Hire ____ , ____ and ____.
  • Create _________, _______ and _______ for current our ideal clients and their friends.
  • Create a niche, ideal client system, and strategic/comprehensive plan to attract better prospects.
  • Conduct ____  trainings to update staff on industry trends, keep on top of new technology, and cross-train on various administrative duties.

Ok, we’ve given you a few ideas to get you started!

*If your practice currently doesn’t have a clearly defined niche, ideal client profile, clear visions (for 12 months, 5 years, and your exit)  and a stategic/comprehensive plan, chances are that IF you put these systems into place, you’ll grow faster.   That’s what we’ve seen our ideal clients do.

Now it’s up to you take some action and create the right goals and strategies for your firm. Let us help you successfully grow your firm.


Take a free business vision class:

Ask us for a free consultation and we’ll show you how we help our clients grow. Visit

Research magazine’s Advisor Hall of Fame (Summary)

I was reading an article this morning, on  about “Research magazine’s Advisor Hall of Fame, now in its 25th year”
Three advisors have been added to their Hall of Fame. Here’s the article: (there is a link on the page to see the article “in full” and if you’re not a member of the site, you can join for free.
Here’s what I, as someone who helps my clients grow their firms, found interesting to read.
They all have developed niches.  Some around AUM, some around the people they work with (single women).  Over the years, the AUM of their niche has grown.  At least one company is openly picky about who they take on as clients.   That, to me, is the best way to niche.  Know who you can help the most and stick to it!
Their love for the business and the clients they’re working with shines through, even in the printed word.
You can restart a business at any age and be very successful.
Everyone has hurdles to overcome in life. The secret is not letting the hurdles overcome you.
They have adapted to change and social networking.
Some Ways They Market
Weekly or monthly enewsletter
Scheduled luncheon seminars for their clients with guest speakers
Calling clients (phone and Skype)
Sending articles of interest to client’s
Doing things that get the whole family involved with the firm
Teach clients/families about money and finances
One sends cards to clients of paintings he’s created
Age has nothing to do with their prosperity. One advisor started a new firm at age 52!
Give Back
They all have the time to give back to a variety of nonprofits and some get their teams involved in the giving back, too.
They graciously accept recognition.
They have great business advice for you as an advisor.
Good reading for a Monday morning (or afternoon or night)!
Upwards and onwards,
Coach Maria
P.S. Don’t miss these free classes this month (December starts tomorrow, actually). Update your 12-month business vision with my guidance, learn more about the One Page Business Plan for Financial Advisors or preregister for the Count on Success Summit! Learn more about these events and register:
P.P.S. Learn what I”m reading by joining my LinkedIn group for advisors. Not much discussion takes place, but I post articles I feel are of interested to advisors who are growing their firm to be their legacy.
Elevating Your Business
19906 Hamilton CT NE A
Poulsbo, WA 98370

FAs: It’s time to shift and get off the pot

recipeforsuccessmountains-nature-sky-sunny13 Key Steps for More Business Growth in 2016

If your game plan for 2016 includes shifting into high gear, you’re in for a big surprise!

Growing is NOT about the next “bling” or even about spending time on social networking sites.

To grow your firm, you need to grow yourself!

To grow your firm, it’s helpful to tweak and refocus your firm’s foundation and make it super- strong.

Want more clients or more referrals from your clients? Not having enough are  symptoms of a weak, inconsistent, and crumbling business foundation that often doesn’t have a niche, ideal client profile, or a plan to guide your activities.

Working too many hours a week? Productivity down? That’s a sign that you aren’t following a strategic plan.


Which shift are you stuck in?

  1. Moving from being a solo advisor to a growing a firm with a first employee.
  2. Lowering the number of hours you work each week to 30!
  3. Hiring your first production staff; be it a service advisor, paraplanner, or whoever.
  4. Moving from advisor to the manager (yes, some advisors realize that they enjoy managing more than advising, and of course, some advisors prefer advising!).
  5. Hiring a manager to run the business.
  6. Dissolving a partnership that doesn’t work for you any longer (or trying to save it).
  7. Putting your contingency/succession plan into action.

If you seek to substantially grow, improve, or evolve your business in 2016, it’s possible, even probable, that you don’t need to add more marketing, products, services, or clients to your firm.  Often strengthen the foundation you already have and marketing less by choosing 3 ways to market consistently works so much better!

What constitutes a strong foundation? What parts of a business are most of the problems and solutions found in?

Recipe for (More) Success

STEP 1: Mindset Shift

Recognize that you have a capacity problem. You’re working too many hours and still things are falling through the cracks. Even if you have a team (employees or outsourcers) you have no time to live life to the fullest. Worse, you’re not treating your clients’ right when you’re rushing through meetings or thinking about other things throughout the day.

Today, make the most important commitment to your firm’s growth and start ceding control to other smart people. To grow your firm, you must change your mindset and BE an advisor-owner. To start, chances are that your business model doesn’t suit your desired lifestyle and needs to, and you’re doing way to much work that needs to be outsourced.

An Activity Audit is the first step to take when delegating is a mandatory step to the advisor-owner mind shift. Manage, and building a solid business foundation, then marketing to attract new clients will be easier. Manage, then market!  Read more about this subject and the Activity Audit:  Advisors: Are you doing too much? Is it time to outsource more?

STEP 2: Assess

Take a snapshot of where your business is right now by honestly rating all areas of your business, including business processes, marketing, services, products, systems for marketing, HR, and the rest. Rate every area of your firm and see what gets a hurrah and which areas need your help in the upcoming year.  If you’d like a copy of the same assessment my clients use, register at

STEP 3: Visioning

A written vision for next year, your succession, and somewhere in between is not necessary — it’s mandatory! At the core of your firm is your vision of where you’re going and the business model you’re using. Is your business model still bringing you the life you originally dreamed it would? Is your current business model working? If not, your model needs fixing. Attend a free business vision workshop.  Register now

STEP 4: Ideal Client Profile

More than your niche, you need very specific language to describe your ideal clients. Create a one-sheet profile with very specific demographics, psychographics, technographics, and geographics. Your ICP is not everyone who breaths and has a checkbook. That type of advisor — a wolf or con artist – gives advisors who prefer a win-win and act with integrity a bad name. Instead, take the time to really “get into their head” and understand everything about your clients. You’ll sound more like the expert and knowledgeable person you are. PLUS you’ll love your clients and spend your time and marketing dollars attracting them. For a video presentation on this topic, register free at


Take a look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities to grow and threats from inside and outside your company. Let’s look at YOUR SWOTs, too.

STEP 6: Strategic Planning

After teaching the 40-50 planning process at a local college, there is only one planning methodology I recommend for advisors. I call it planning on steroids! It’s actually a consolidated plan for all parts of your business – and it prints on one sheet of paper (although it’s an online planning and performance management system). It’s a great tool to have in your toolbox and it’s easy to update, too. It’s concise and helps business owners refocus and get focused on the priorities that will bring growth the quickest way possible. It’s an “all” plan that contains your plans for administration, operations, marketing, sales, human capital, etc. It’s 100% available online and some of the programs I offer that use this methodology come with an online goal and action plan monitoring system, and a year’s worth of “me” too. Attend a complimentary, no-obligation demo of the online planning system we use. Register here

STEP 7: Business Monitoring Systems

By monitor what’s working and what’s not working, you will be able to execute your plan more quickly. Monitoring your efforts is very motivating and it helps you catch mistakes before they become very costly! This includes monitoring your firm’s objectives and action plans daily or at least weekly. Monitor the ways you use your time, blocking out time each day to mail a thank you card, make phone calls, etc. Monitoring forms can be created on paper, using MS Excel, or in an app (application or software, off or online or on your phone). I also have my clients create a Lessons Learned Report to help them now and in the future. The best monitoring systems are those you’ll use! How often? Monitor your goals, strategies, and action plans weekly. Once a year monitors all 12 areas mentioned in this article.

STEP 8: Pricing Sheet

Create a sheet containing your pricing or commission structure. Know what your hourly rate is EVEN if you don’t ever quote it. Know how much profit you’ll make on “x” income from a client. Determine how much acquiring new client costs. All this, of course, is for your internal use only but don’t be afraid to be 100% transparent and let your clients see what will cost them what.

STEP 9: Marketing Funnel

Some of the biggest mistakes advisors make revolve around marketing. Choose 3 ways to consistently market and do it! If you have a marketing person on staff, you can choose 5 ways. Build relationships with prospects and dive deeper into relationships with your clients who you want to turn into raving fans in your tribe. Since you’re monitoring your marketing strategies weekly, you’ll be able to see what is working and what needs some tweaks or complete changes.

STEP 10: Marketing Calendar

Plan a year ahead. Sure things will come up and then you can look at your calendar and see how those things fit, remove something on your calendar or hire someone to help you to fit more on your calendar. Include both in person and online marketing, PR, networking, advertising and other types of marketing that will help you reach larger numbers of your ideal clients.

STEP 11: Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendars help financial advisors to focus on topics that are most important to their ideal clients. Read my article on editorial calendars here

STEP 12: Outsource

You know your strengths and weaknesses. What you don’t do well is a waste of your time to do, don’t waste your time learning how to do it!  It’s also a waste of your time to do tasks you can pay someone else to do for less than it would cost you to do. So if you can do accounting, proofreading, blog posts, and your own social networking, BUT you can pay someone less than $150-$400 an hour (the rate per hour you are earning) – outsource, instead. If hiring an employee scares the s*** out of you, outsource. Everything an advisor might do, someone running a small business can do. Outsourcing is not a dirty word. Top advisors outsource and have great teams of people working for them. Pick the things you really enjoy doing, and outsource the rest.

STEP 13: Systematize

Start with the important processes you do. Create a Project Map, MindMap, Worksheet, Staff Training Manual, or videos to get started. Ask your team members to document their processes, too! Advisors complain that it takes too long to train someone. You’ll cut that training time in half when you have your processes in writing. PLUS I’ve found that new employees have a way of finding even better ways to do tasks when they can follow what’s been put in writing for them to follow.


Go for all you wanted your firm to be. Grab hold of the brass ring. You can have it all!


© 2010, updated 2015. Elevating Your Business. We help advisors connect the dots and build the enjoyable, more profitable business you’ve always dreamed about. Learn more about how you can get a complimentary Strategic Breakthrough Session here.