The work is never-ending. There's always more that you can do for your clients.
But how often do you step back from the daily rush and map out your professional career for the months and years to come?
Given the general craziness of the working week, goal-setting may seem like a non-urgent task that can be pushed back to another day. However, setting ambitious goals and making specific, time-bound plans to help you meet them is incredibly valuable in the long-run.
We often start the year with the best of intentions. But as the pace of things speeds up for the year, we slip into old habits and maintaining our new habits becomes a challenge.
Exactly the same thing can happen in our professional life.
Often your clients are working during business hours, and might need your assistance outside of ordinary hours. Perhaps you regularly find yourself taking calls when you should be spending time with the family. In the rare down time you do get, there are a number of PD days and boot camps to attend, articles and commentary to read, and invoicing to organise.
It can be incredibly daunting and overwhelming.
It can be easy to justify the endless rush, given that the future success of your business depends on your skill in building relationships. However, rather than hustling non-stop, there's something to be said for slowing down, taking stock of where your business is at, and mapping out the strategic relationships you want to build going forward.
One way to get moving on some of your long-term goals without burning out in the short-term, is to set SMART goals. Building clever strategies to achieve these goals gives you a sense of clarity, and can ensure you don't waste resources on activities that aren't moving you closer to your goals.
Let's do a quick recap on SMART goals:
When you're setting business goals, make sure they're easy to understand. Remember, you might be coming back to these goals in 3-6months time to do an audit on your progress, and you want to be sure you'll remember what you meant when you wrote them down. For example, your goal might be to contact 10 new clients per week. You might even go one step further and define the channels through which you plan to find those customers. For example, you might decide that it's reasonable to aim to find 4 clients through your social media channels.
The goal must have some way of being measured, typically expressed as a number. Let's use the previous example: you've already made a specific goal of contacting 10 new clients per week. Perhaps you want to generate 2 leads from those 10 clients. This is a measurable goal that gives you a clear indication of whether you have achieved it or not.
Goals don't complete themselves, so remember to clearly define who will be responsible for working towards the goal. This will usually be yourself, but if you're managing a team you might have multiple people working towards a shared goal. In this case, don't try to do everything yourself; think about the strengths of each team member and make sure each person's contribution is strategic. If you're working strategically with your staff and efficiently with your resources, you're putting yourself in the prime position to score the winning goal.
When you're setting goals, it can be easy to get ahead of yourself. Why wouldn't you want to move mountains?! The downside of this is that you might be disheartened if you set an unachievable goal and are unable to achieve it. Setting realistic goals and pushing yourself to achieve them is the key to keeping your motivation levels high and preventing burn-out. Once you've been successful with one goal, you'll feel ready to tackle the next one, and you can ride the wave of positivity into your next challenge.
For example, a large brokerage might be able to increase their net revenue base by 10% in 6 months, but this would be an unrealistic goal to set for a sole trader. Set a goal that stretches you and puts you outside your comfort zone, but doesn't cause you to struggle so much that you burn-out in the process. Don't forget to learn as you go, so that you've got a few shortcuts up your sleeve in case you ever needed to tackle that goal again.
Set a clear deadline and stick to it. Are you aiming to achieve your goal within one month, three months, six months or twelve months? If you complete your goal in fifty years time, it won't deliver value to your business.
If you've decided on a big goal, you may find it easier to split the goal into smaller bite-sized tasks with staggered deadlines so that you can stay on track. For example, instead of saying “I want to diversify my business,” a SMART goal would be: “I want to write or refer 10 equipment finance deals by December.”
Need some inspiration for your strategy session?
Do you know which of your existing clients are business owners? If not, you could start by digging deeper with your existing client base to see whether you could add value in other ways. Perhaps you've assisted a client with a residential mortgage, but didn't know they also have a small business. Once you have that knowledge, you can offer a variety of services to help them on all fronts.
Have you spoken to each of your clients recently? If you haven't spoken to a client in a few months, consider giving them a call or dropping in to see them. There's no need to be business-minded when you make contact; you might simply call them for a personal check-in, to see how their family is going. Building strong relationships with your clients depends on a foundation of trust, and rushing the process has the potential to backfire.
How often do you read about new products on the market, spend time up-skilling yourself, or invest in your own personal development? As a broker, your knowledge is what the client wants. Spending time on yourself seems counterintuitive at first glance, but is actually a sensible business investment when it comes down to it. Investing in learning and up-skilling gives you a broader knowledge base to draw on when working with a client.
Make 2018 your best year yet
Valiant can improve your service offering, opening up a new source of commission and helping you strengthen your reputation. Best of all, Valiant is free to use and is complementary to your existing products and services. Give us a call on 0424 135 875 to request a product demo and find out how we can help.
Andrew is the Head of Third Party Distribution at Valiant Finance. He has vast experience in finance, working with brokers, accountants and referral partners.