Are You Working IN Your Business Or ON Your Business?

Posted: February 8, 2023

Stressed Lego man at desk

When I talk to executives and business owners as part of my work with family offices, private equity firms, and boards, I often hear comments like this: “I want to grow my business, but I do not have the time to address [you name the issue].”

The REAL issue is often that they are so busy working IN their business that they do not take the time to work ON their business. There is a tremendous difference.

Working IN the business is the daily activity required to operate and maintain a disciplined business model. Working ON it is the strategic work required to address areas where the business model can improve.

‘Continuous Improvement is Better than Delayed Perfection’

While I am skeptical Mark Twain was as wise as his sayings imply, he is credited with the expression, “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”

I think most of us have a vision for the perfect existence we desire, that utopian place we want our business to exist in. Sometimes we fall into the trap of simply pointing our business toward a star in the sky, and then using hope as primary vehicle for getting there.

Very few great businesses are built that way.

Rather, it is the hard work of strategy, innovation, planning, and relentless execution that provides the basis for an exceptional business. Sustainable businesses also are often built on lessons learned from a few failures; failure and continuous improvement go hand-in-hand.

A Framework for Top Financial Advisors

Looking at the financial advisory space, it has always intrigued me that there are only a few hundred firms in the U.S. with more than $1 billion in assets, but thousands and thousands under $100 million.

My experience tells me there are many reasons why, including lifestyle choices or niche business models. However, I would also argue that almost every financial advisor wants to grow their business.

Over the years, as the Blueprint Investment Partners team has worked with financial advisors, we’ve developed institutional knowledge about the behaviors, tactics, and strategies used by the most effective advisors. These are advisors that usually have higher profit margins and lower attrition.

We captured these attributes in The Elite Advisor Playbook, which provides a framework for an optimal advisory practice – one that allows you to focus ON the business, not IN it. The cornerstones are:

  1. Focusing on client service above all else
  2. Implementing scalable practice management systems
  3. Wealth management (not investment management)
  4. Business development, constantly

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)?

The Playbook provides robust definitions of what we mean by each of the four pillars, and I think it’s truly worth reading (though I realize I’m biased). But, the Playbook’s message boils down to this:

Top financial advisors spend their time only on high-impact activities, like client service and business development, the work that requires a human touch (and where the human touch can be a differentiator for the practice). Everything else is outsourced, systematized, and/or automated to make for a scalable practice.

This takeaway is supported by numerous studies of investors and advisors over the years, but this is the datapoint that sticks with me the most: “As much as 45% of the total value of an advisory relationship perceived by investors is derived from emotional elements, while the remaining 55% is derived from functional aspects of the relationship like portfolio management and financial planning.” (Quoted from a 2021 study by Vanguard.)

If you’re an advisor who wants to continue down the path of working ON your practice rather than IN your practice, I’d encourage you to download the Playbook. But also, feel free to reach out to our team to discuss your reactions to the Playbook.

Let's Talk

If you’re interested in a conversation about how Blueprint Investment Partners can help you stay focused ON your business