By Daniel C. Finley
Let's face it, your business is like an old-fashioned freight train-the kind you see in a Western movie. It takes forever to get up enough thrust to pull out of the station, but once it is up to full steam, there is no stopping it!
What type of momentum does your business have right now? Are you running full steam ahead, or are you stuck in the station attempting to gather motivation? If you're stuck, use these seven steps to kick-start your business.
Step 1: Go Beyond Fear
Fear can be a great motivator or create a lack of motivation. Fear of failure was my personal driving force to spend countless hours cold calling during my rookie years. No amount of rejection could trump my fear of failure. I had to succeed, and that meant making the calls, setting the appointments, closing prospects and building a client base.
For many financial advisers, it is the fear of success that stops them dead in their tracks. Some advisers have a record month, then chalk the month up to a huge run of luck. They quit doing the activities that got them there in the first place only to find the following month is one of the worst months on record.
In both cases, the underlining emotion is anxiety; the anxiety of failing or the anxiety of succeeding and having to live up to past accomplishments. Either way, building and maintaining a business based on anxiety is not the answer. Instead, you need to go beyond fear.
Step 2: Get in the Present
Think back to a time when you were happiest in your life and/or business. Were you concerned about the future or regretting the past? No, you were focused on the present.
Author Spencer Johnson, M.D., states in his book, The Present: The Gift that Makes You Happy and Successful at Work and in Life, that "being in the present means tuning out distractions and paying attention to what is important, now. You create your own present by what you give your attention to." I believe that children do this instinctively when they are at play. They focus on the game they are playing and not on current distractions, the future or the past.
How does this pertain to your business? To master motivation and momentum you must make a game out of your daily activities.
Step 3: Make Your Business a Game
Turning your business into a game can be exciting, rewarding and fun. The key to being successful is to understand the rules of the game.
Consider, for example, the game of time management. To be successful at managing your time, compartmentalize and prioritize your time into hourly blocks. Focus on just five of the eight hours of the day and determine what the five general activities will be for your game-think of them as innings in a baseball game.
Maybe the first time management inning would be to cold call new people so you can add to the pipeline. The second would be to contact former prospects in your contact management system. The third might be to contact clients to set appointments or do investment transactions. The fourth would be time spent in actual appointments, and the fifth might be to do client servicing. You choose what activities you want to do in your time management game.
Start each inning at the top of the hour and play the game for 45 minutes. The remaining 15 minutes will be your time to take a break from the game. Give yourself one point for playing the duration of the inning. Add up your points at the end of the day and reward yourself for winning four out of five innings.
This strategy works, because by compartmentalizing and prioritizing important business activities, you are reaching into the present. You are not focused on the past, the future, anxieties, fear or any other negative emotions, but instead sticking to each 45-minute inning and winning.
These three keys will make your business game a success:
- Initially, make it easy to win and hard to lose, because if you make it difficult to win, you will lose too often and you will stop playing the game.
- Systematically raise the bar. The second week of playing your business game should be a little harder to win than the first; the reason is because you want to stretch yourself.
- Have the right tools to win the game.
Step 4: Get New Tools
Every kid knows that you do not bring a football to a baseball game or you'll be laughed off the field. The same is true with your business game. You need the right equipment or tools to win the game.
The preceding game is a tool I designed called the Bottom Line List. Its primary function is to create a time management structure so you don't end the day, week, month or year wondering what you have accomplished and why you are reactive. Instead you know what to do, why you are doing it and how long it will take.
The Time Matrix To-Do List is another tool I've designed to prioritize interruptions by helping you determine if the most recent interruption is worth calling a "time out" to your game. If you would like either one of these tools, simply e-mail me for a copy.
In order to know if the tools are working, you have to track your progress.
Step 5: Track Your Progress
If your business was a game, how would you keep score? Most advisers keep score on a macro level-by counting current assets under management or how many clients they have. To master motivation and momentum, you must keep score on a micro level. For example, successfully completing four out of five tasks on your Bottom Line List, setting two appointments, adding two new people to the pipeline today and/or converting people to the next level of the pipeline.
Typically, I have found that unsuccessful financial advisers do not have a tracking process, while successful financial advisers do. That's because successful advisers realize that by tracking their progress, they'll know if they are in line to hit their goals. If you are like most, you may have an idea on how to track your progress, but you may not have an idea on how to become efficient at increasing your progress.
To master motivation and momentum, make a game out of prospecting, and part of winning the prospecting game is to become more efficient by unclogging your pipeline.
Step 6: Unclog Your Pipeline
You can't win the game of prospecting if your prospects go into your pipeline but do not flow through it.
Unclogging your pipeline begins with mapping out your process for turning strangers into clients. Next, you must track your progress to see which step in the pipeline is the clog. For example, some advisers can get a first appointment, but do not get a second; some advisers can easily get a second appointment, but do not close the sale.
Whatever your "pipeline clog" is, find it, then research techniques to unclog it. For example, asking for the second appointment during the first, or being ready for objections so that you close the sale.
Finally, you must practice and implement your techniques so that you are effective and gain momentum. To sustain your momentum, you must get business leverage.
Step 7: Get Business Leverage
Getting business leverage is really the reward or punishment for winning or losing the daily game. You need a strong enough reason to accomplish your goals and a strong enough reason not to fail. To do this, it is important to include others in your reward and punishment systems. Being held accountable to others is important to keep you pushing for reasons to forge ahead.
Daniel C. Finley is the president of Advisor Solutions Inc., a business development consulting and coaching service for financial advisers. He has extensive experience as an adviser, business development consultant, business coach, author, speaker and group coaching facilitator, and is the creator of The Advisor Solutions System, a 24-week group coaching program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tools to Use
Do you need a little confidence boost? Do you feel like you're just going through the motions, but you want to get back into the game? Sign up for author and business coach Daniel Finley's free Monday Morning Motivational e-mail at www.advisorsolutionsinc.com/free.html and get the weekly boost you're looking for.