Much like a musician who has difficulty just relaxing and enjoying a symphony because they find it difficult to not be constantly analyzing the technical aspects of a performance, as a business owner I find myself critiquing businesses. Where it’s a restaurant or a Wal-Mart, I love to observe a well-run business and can’t help but find faults in poorly-run businesses.

Every business has success traits that are unique, but I have observed two traits that are true in businesses that I admire and that aren’t found in businesses that leave me unimpressed. What are they? A good business has a plan for success, and they also have a repeatable process to help implement that plan every day. Plan and process…sounds easy, but how do we make it work in our financial practice?

This fall, Tarkenton Financial will be hosting a series of webinars and blog posts on what I call the “7 Pillars of Production.” The goal is to help you formulate a plan for what you want to accomplish in your business and then give you a repeatable process to implement that plan, allowing you help more clients and to make more money in the process of doing so. So without further ado, let’s start with Pillar #1, and be sure to join us on the webinar this Friday, Oct. 10th at 11:30 am ET. Click here to register!

Pillar #1 – Purpose: The first step in any journey is in deciding where it is you want to go. The GPS system in my car is wonderfully helpful in getting me there, but I must enter the correct address or I could be driving for a long, long time and still never get to where I wanted to go. It is my experience that many financial professionals have a very generalized goal that they would like to grow their business and be more profitable, but that’s about as far as it goes. We need to go beyond that and ask ourselves two key questions: What are my core competencies? What is my passion?

Your answers to those questions will drive how you plan for the future of your practice. Speaking for myself, my core competency, what I know best and do best, is in the area of retirement planning. Because of that, when an article comes across my desk on estate planning for the rich and famous, I am not likely to spend time reading it. If someone is referred to me who is 25 and wants me to help them save money for a down payment on their first house, I’m not likely to take them on as a client. Why? Because it’s not the focus of my practice.

When it comes to the issue of where my passions are, that is an easy question for me to answer. Nothing makes me happier than helping people who have worked hard all of their lives to be able to relax and enjoy the only retirement they are ever going to have.

Your core competency and passion may be very different than mine, but is critical that you define them. Whether it’s working with business owners, helping teachers, partnering with estate planning attorneys…whatever your passion is, create a business plan to help you pursue it. Our founder Fran Tarkenton loves the quote that “A fool with a plan is better than a genius without one.” Of course, it’s not enough to just have a plan – you must also act on it. General George Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.” Figure out where you want to go, and over the next few weeks, we’ll look at ways to help you get there.

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