the act of breaking something down into its separate parts in order to understand its meaning, especially when this is different from how it was previously understood:
Deconstruction is a hot topic for advisors as we lean into the heart of business planning season. This time of year presents a natural opportunity to revisit what you’ve been holding onto and doing in a particular manner, perhaps for many years. Does it all still make sense? How do you know which pieces of your business need to be deconstructed? And, most importantly, how do you put it all back together in a more meaningful way to build your ideal business?
As you set the stage for deconstructing to reconstruct, here are some questions our consulting team put together. Our hope is that they will give you a jumpstart in determining “what’s next” for you and your business in the coming year:
Do you know your “Why”…?
…And is your life/business in alignment with it? In other words, do you have clarity about your personal and professional purpose? Deep down (whether we realize it or not) we all have a driving force that motivates us. Why did you become an advisor in the first place? Why do you value [fill in the blank] over [fill in the blank]? Why do you wake up each morning and do the work? Why do you feel anxious about one thing or another?
Keep asking the “Why” questions and you’ll ultimately end up with the same, deeply rooted response. For most of us, our answers to the “Why” will reflect what we value most; for example: “Providing for my loved ones”; “Feeling loved/appreciated”; “Achieving my vision of success”; “Leaving a legacy”; “Positively impacting/influencing others”; etc.
When you know your “Why” and keep a constant focus on reinforcing that purpose, identifying and giving shape to the less important “How” (i.e. building and maintaining the right solutions and practices) becomes much easier.
If your current situation isn’t aligned with your “Why”, you can’t avoid feeling unhappy or dissatisfied. Don’t be afraid to think in ideals. Remember, it’s your business. If you can maintain a focus on WHY versus HOW, don’t be surprised if your business—and life—begin to transform for the better.
What major efforts have you focused on in 2022?
What did you take a chance on this year? Why did you decide to take action? What were the problems you were trying to solve? What were the processes you tried out to solve those problems? What did you learn as a result? All of this is now part of your life experience, your unique wealth of knowledge. There’s great benefit in identifying what doesn’t/didn’t work.
Remember that there is zero shame in trying and failing. It’s actually healthy to celebrate our failures—when we earnestly and honestly reflect on them, we can use these experiences to grow and evolve in new and better ways.
When you’re able to accept—and then appreciate—failure, you can use it as a learning opportunity. (Congratulations! You’re now that much closer to achieving your definition of success.)
Are you emphasizing execution or innovation?
Depending on where you are along your business journey, it may be the right time either execute or innovate. Here’s what we mean by this:
Are you in execution mode? You may have already built processes, services, and experiences that you know work well for you, your clients, and your business. In regards to the things that are already working, focusing on execution makes sense. This means protecting and continuously replicating all the details surrounding these activities.
Are you innovation mode? If you’re seeking to create and implement best practices, consider what may have failed this year. Determine what led to losing a client or prospective client, or not meeting client expectations. This exercise can actually inspire you to build something even better than what you initially thought you (or your clients) wanted or needed.
How do you measure success?
We measure our success by the individual standard we’ve set to assess whether we have achieved our goals. Because there isn’t a universal measure of success, whether you realize it or not, you have your own benchmarks which help you evaluate your achievements, both personally and professionally. So, what did you succeed at this year? And what do you feel was a failure?
It’s important to acknowledge that as you and your business evolve, your ideas about success and failure may have changed. Maybe you’ve tried many times over to make a particular process or relationship work, to no avail. What was the end result you were hoping for when you began attempting to achieve it? Does that end result still align with your current goals, business plan, and overall “Why”? How will you feel you’ve succeeded at making [fill in the blank] work? And, is it still important/crucial/relevant to remain focused on achieving that goal?
How can you use failure to your advantage?
Our experience with failure can be a great catalyst for learning, one some might view as a prerequisite for success. Experiencing failed attempts at something may even be a necessary step in our eventual success as we seek to develop new, ideal client services, processes, or experiences.
As they say, hindsight is 20/20. As you look back on what didn’t go as planned this year, it’s likely that you will be able to see how that experience may have ultimately resulted in a new and better path you then chose to follow.
When you trust the process, failure can be a really useful tool. It can show you what does not work, bringing you closer to what does. It can ultimately lead you to a positive redirection.
Now that you’ve asked and answered the above questions, you’re ready to focus on deconstructing to reconstruct:
- Make a list of your most crucial business components; Your processes, strategic relationships, team, service model, client experience, technology, fee structure, daily routine, business structure, etc.
How do you feel about each of these pieces of this unique puzzle you’ve built? Which of these elements may be holding you back or impeding your progress toward creating your ideal business?
- Take apart (deconstruct) each of the components which you recognize are no longer working, have become outdated, do not serve your purpose, and/or are not aligned with what you see as your ideal business. Keep the existing parts which are a) clearly working; b) necessary/fundamental to achieve your purpose; c) are in alignment with and/or contribute to your “Why”.
Consider and brainstorm on replacements for those components you decide to eliminate. Collaborate with trusted colleagues or business partners on alternatives in these areas.
- Begin determining how you can reassemble these necessary components in a more useful, valuable way…a reconstruction which reflects and aligns with your “Why” and will ultimately contribute to the creation of your ideal business.
We serve as a trusted business partner and consultant to the advisory firms we support. As we head into 2023, many of these advisors are reconsidering the business decisions they made in the past, some of which are keeping them from the ideal practice they really want today.
Our team is actively walking alongside these advisors as they deconstruct to reconstruct, all across the spectrum and at every stage of their business journey.
- Some advisors are rebuilding in a big way as they reconsider their broker/dealer relationship, asking questions such as: How satisfied am I with my broker/dealer? Is this partnership still the right fit for me and my clients today? Do I have the flexibility and freedom I need to do what I feel is best for me and my clients? Am I able to make changes to my business model as I see fit?
- Other advisors are simply reevaluating their marketing strategy/plan, focusing on these relevant questions: Is my marketing strategy/plan generating enough business to keep me on track to reach my revenue goals? Am I successfully and consistently executing the marketing activities within the plan? Do I enjoy (or dread) those activities? What’s been working well for me and my business over the last year? Do I have the capacity to take on the new client relationships my marketing plan was originally created to attract? How do I need to adjust my strategy to reflect my updated goals and marketing mix?
- Many advisors are looking closely at their brand and unique value proposition, thinking hard on questions like: Does my brand and message attract the right-fit clients I truly enjoy serving? Is it time to redefine my unique value proposition? Do I want to focus on a narrower niche and adjust my messaging to reflect that? Has my business evolved to a different place than where it was when I originally created my brand?
- Lots of advisors are reconsidering their technology choices. How am I incorporating my use of technology into my business processes? How does my currently technology contribute to my client experience? Can I better utilize or leverage the full capabilities available to me through my existing technology? Does the investment I’m making into my technology make sense? Technology changes so quickly now; am I getting distracted with new vaporware or other trending ideas that aren’t fundamental to my business needs?
Perhaps you can relate to any of these advisors’ experiences and are looking for some guidance on how to start your own deconstruction process. If so, we can help.