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Five Questions to Clarify Your Business Strategy

Clarity is essential to any business plan.

Allyson Lewis, 04/16/2009

As a public speaker on productivity and time management, I am regularly encouraging the attendees of our workshops to "clarify their business strategy." As the writer of this article, I reached for a thesaurus to help readers understand the importance of the words "clarity" and "clarify" and these are some of the synonyms I found:
* Clear
* Comprehensible
* Understandable
* Focused
* Clear cut
* Precise
* Plain
* Unambiguous
* Unclouded
* Transparent
* Distinct
* Sharp

I was immediately struck by the sharp contrast of the uncertainty and unpredictability we face in the markets as financial advisors compared with the focus and certainty we can have if we will take the time to "clarify" our business strategies.

Your business strategy is the foundation that encompasses your personal beliefs, mission, values, and purpose. Every day your life is filled with a broad array of choices and decisions and your business strategy is what predetermines the policies and procedures that you believe will best help your clients reach their long-term goals and objectives.

As financial advisors, your business strategy will include information on:
* Understanding how the markets work in today's volatile economy
* How to deliver ever improving customer service
* How to most effectively market your business
* How to build an efficient team
* Prospecting
* Networking
* Personal development

From this foundation you build concrete plans of the daily activities that will help you implement your business strategy. It will be the consistency of your efforts with these daily activities that will be the most important key to your success. But, before you can outline the daily activities, you must first develop and clarify your business strategy.

With this in mind, here are five questions to help you "clarify" your business strategy:

1. What do you really do?
This may seem like a straightforward question, but very few people have taken the time to come up with a compelling answer. If you are going to market yourself to others you must first clearly define what you do and how you are different from your competition.

When I am asked this question my answer will be something like, "I am a financial advisor. My mission is to educate, motivate and encourage. I try to find out where my clients are today and where they want to be in the future. Then we work together to create a comprehensive financial strategy to help take them there. Do you have a comprehensive financial strategy?"

2. What do you do well?
The easiest way we can excel in our personal and professional lives is to build on our strengths. As you reflect on your business life, think back to the activities that have already made you successful--and focus on those activities. To achieve your personal best, you must give yourself permission to do what you do well.

What are the daily projects you love to do? Is it meeting face-to-face with your clients? Is it taking on difficult cases and pulling together all of the pieces? What do you find most fulfilling? Of course, you love to work on the projects that most closely align with your life's purpose, passion and strengths.

3. What do you believe?
Your business strategy as a financial advisor is surrounded by beliefs. As you "clarify" your business strategy, this is a great time to decide what you will have conviction about regarding your investment strategies. In order to have an effective business strategy, you will have to pre-determine the policies and procedures that will help your clients achieve their long-term goals and objectives. This means you have deeply held beliefs about asset allocation, target based rates of return and the impact of volatility on investment returns. It means you either believe in alpha or you don't, you believe in active management or passive management or both. It means you have an opinion that impacts the decisions you make every day. It means you have conviction.PAGEBREAK

4. Who is your ideal client?
It is helpful to define your ideal clients. Who are your most profitable customers and why? What makes them profitable? Why do you enjoy working with them? What do they do for a living? How were you introduced to them? How did they become a client? Why do they do business with you? How could you attract more people like these ideal clients?

5. What specific activities will you commit to this year that could revolutionize the growth of your business?
Regardless of the business strategy you create for yourself, merely clarifying your business strategy is only the first step. The real effort comes in creating a systematic series of activities that you are willing to accomplish every day. This is where the power of having a business strategy is for every financial advisor.

The purpose of strategic clarification is to give you the ability to create repeatable systems that can be consistently used over and over again to give you and your team the confidence they need to help your clients achieve their long-term goals and objectives.

Conclusion
Providing "clarity" in your life will give you excitement and energy you may have forgotten. "Clarity" is that internal force that drives you forward and keeps you going even when it is hard. "Clarity" defines your thinking and your beliefs. "Clarity" becomes your story and your message. "Clarity" is:

* Clear
* Comprehensible
* Understandable
* Focused
* Clear cut
* Precise
* Plain
* Unambiguous
* Unclouded
* Transparent
* Distinct
* Sharp

As I re-read that list of synonyms, I have to believe this is exactly what our clients are really looking for as well. Let us work to "clarify" their financial strategy.

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