The third option in rebuilding your practiceby
As the furlough payments and a summer of extreme weather come to an end, businesses and accountants are facing an autumn of decisions. Now is the time to reflect upon recent trading and to consider the bigger picture.
As advisers we are often asked, should I carry on or cease trading in my business? But rarely do clients ask about the third option.
Spotting the third option can be tricky but taking a step back from the firefight of trading can provide a different view point and one which is useful both to clients and in our own businesses.
The third option
The third option could be many options; some easy, some obscure but the important thing is to consider the bigger picture in which the business operates and list as many opportunities or options as you can.
Some of these may well be dismissed immediately but restricting your thinking, restricts your outcomes. Here are three ways to broaden your horizon to spot that third option.
- What do client’s value about what you do?
We can spend so long working in the business and not working on the business that we fail to spot or understand what clients actually value about what we do. When I sold my financial advisory practice, none of my clients thanked me for saving them tax or organising their pension. They thanked me for listening and for helping them to get a clear vision of the life they wanted. I thought I was selling a tax efficient investment solution, but that wasn’t really what they were buying.
What they valued was the coaching that came with the service and that is what marked me out from my competition. Survey the clients you like working with. Ask for feedback about what they get from working with you and what keeps them awake at night. What could you be doing that supports those other needs?
This is a great way to spotting a niche and a potential shift in business. Be bold and even if there is not obvious third option, you could well gain some great testimonials.
- Review your processes
Many businesses went in to the pandemic in a panic to keep providing a service. Now it is time, to not only to consider the service you provide, but how it is delivered. One of the benefits of the pandemic is that there is a greater tolerance for changing process. Everyone has had to learn new ways of doing things so why not take the opportunity to change not just what you do, but how you do it.
What can you streamline, what can you let go of entirely and what can you outsource?
- Skills and experience
Sometimes the third option is matched to a unique opportunity or skill. Consider what you do both inside and outside of work. What are your broader skills? Not just the usual skills, the unique skills. You could choose to move along your supply chain or to use those skills elsewhere.
For example, by the end of March 2020, our corporate wellbeing business had no clients. HR departments cancelled contracts as the pandemic hit and we were forced to think differently. When we considered the skills we have, we realised that we had published over 15 books between us and had over 40 years business experience. We created a new product which grew in to a publishing business. We sold these services to the individuals we had met in a corporate setting as well as finding a broader market. It gave the corporate wellbeing arm the time it needed to wait for the market to recover. Had it not recovered, we were ready for that too.
Back to the future
The 100 emails which arrived today, the LinkedIn requests and the social media you said you would do but didn’t, don’t really matter. It’s time to step off of the hamster wheel!
The personal and business overwhelm and increased workload of the last 18 months has been enough to distract anyone, but now it is time to consider the future. It is the time to decide what you are going to let go of and to create what your post-pandemic business looks like.
The bigger picture around your business needs to reflect global trends, staffing trends and employment needs, economic realities and the priorities of the public. However, it also allows you to re-write the rules of what you do and how you do it.
Take the time to be honest and clear about the impact of the last 18 months. What have you learned about yourself? Your clients? Your team? Your market? Your values and your priorities?
The whole world is changing so why not change too; rebuild the business you deserve and do the same for your clients.
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