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Build a Long-term Vision for a Scalable Business

Megan Murray December 20, 2023

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Today’s economic environment is putting pressure on financial professionals. For financial advisors who are just starting out or scaling their small business, it is a tricky time to be navigating how to best invest in yourself and your business.

Developing a multi-year business plan can help you see past today and enable the ability to make smart decisions and invest appropriately in your business for the future.

Every Business Needs a Long-term Vision

All small businesses should set a North Star (long-term goal), and map out their path to success through a business plan. Not doing so makes it too easy to fall into the trap of being reactive and not strategic. For example, when faced with financial pressure, you may make a quick decision to cut costs by pulling back on your technology investment. This could happen by either cutting back on staff that is employed to optimize the investment and/or eliminating the tech all together and reverting back to other ways of doing business. But, if you know your long-term goal is to grow your book of business by a certain percent profitably, you can evaluate whether cutting back on your technology in the short term will be detrimental to achieving that goal in the long term.

I typically recommend developing a three-year business plan. If you are only planning one year ahead, then you are not challenging yourself to think beyond that and you will work in reactive mode. Why three years versus five? I find that planning for five years ahead can be overwhelming and difficult to do effectively. Too many factors and assumptions can change significantly, making the effort to go that far out futile. I find three years to be the sweet spot—far enough out for you to have a vision to drive proactively towards, but not so far out that it becomes overwhelming and potentially irrelevant.

Once you have developed your long-term vision, don’t underestimate the importance of communicating it both internally and externally. Your internal team needs to be aligned on your strategy so that they can stay focused on the right things. Be purposeful with your communication and with the language you use. Your team should understand your definition of success and how you intend to achieve it together. On the external side, your clients should understand what you value and see the output of your strategy.

Long-term Success Starts with the Right Foundation

All small start-ups are focused on their product and building up their book of business. However, you are going to reach a tipping point where it’s not scalable to stay focused only on your product and gain new clients. Completing all of your tasks manually when you have a growing client base can quickly become daunting and there’s only so many hours in the day.

That is why it is important to start laying the bricks of the foundation that will enable you to take on more business. If you don’t focus on both gaining new business and building your foundation of scalable processes, you will break under your own weight. Financial professionals need to be able to run their businesses efficiently and effectively in order to have the ability to invest back into it and continue to grow.

Technology Is the Key to Scaling Your Business

Optimizing your efforts and creating scalable client experiences requires leveraging technology. It also requires you to marry your technology with your business strategy. You want to choose your tech stack purposefully so that it incorporates all of your needs and is aligned with the goals in your business plan. If you start buying technology without thinking about how it will support your multi-year strategy, you run the very real risk of achieving the opposite outcome, such as increased complexity in your business model and a higher run rate expense.

Be sure to take a minute to acknowledge what you do and don’t know when you are evaluating your technology options. If you aren’t tech-savvy, it’s smart to partner with experts that can help you choose the best fit for your business and your goals.

Once you have chosen the right technology, be patient and embrace the time needed to use it at scale. Keep in mind that you aren’t going to achieve your final outcome on day one. You will need to work up to your end goal by taking the time to learn the technology and develop new processes to optimize the investment while you grow and scale your practice.

Keep Your Long-term Vision in Sight

Track progress to your goals monthly and evaluate outcomes compared with your assumptions. Also, formally revisit your business plan every year and do a pulse check. Were you right? What has changed in the market in the past year? What have you learned? Did any opportunities come up? Staying focused on your business goals is key, but so is being flexible and nimble. By reassessing your business plan on a regular basis, you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities and make adjustments to your plan as needed with your long-term vision in mind.

Interested in learning more about business plans? Visit our comprehensive guide to creating your financial advisor business plan to learn how to develop a business plan from the ground up.

DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

Image of Megan Murray
About the Author

As COO at eMoney Advisor, Megan is focused on creating long-term, scalable growth. She guides accounting, finance, enterprise operations, and facilities management, in addition to providing oversight of the legal team and financial planning group. She previously served as head of finance for eight years. Prior to joining eMoney in 2015, Megan spent 14 years at Fidelity. She thrived in multiple financial roles across the organization with responsibilities that included rebuilding the financial architecture platform for both the workplace and retail organizations and enabling each to view multidimensional economic analytics.

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