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Are you running your business…Or is your business running you?

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Many of us work in the investment and insurance industry because we’ve always wanted to run our own business. We have that entrepreneurial spirit. We don’t want to work for someone else, and we don’t want to give up a big haircut to a broker-dealer or insurance company.

The problem most of us have is that, while we may be good at what we do (giving investment and/or insurance advice), we have no idea how to actually run a business, much less a thriving, successful business. In other words, we’re good at the "art of our craft," but we’re not a good business builder.

Which leads me to my basic question: Are you constantly working in your business, or do you take time to work on your business? As I’ve seen my practice grow exponentially over the past seven years, I’ve often struggled with this reality. I was often overworked, tired, and constantly worried about everything getting done in the office. I simply did not have the systems in place so that the business could run itself. Instead of running a successful practice, my business was running me.

Efficiency means freedom

An efficient business means freedom to me. If I don’t have to personally be there all the time, making sure every task is getting done, I have more freedom. Freedom to work on the business, and freedom to spend more time with the people I love and doing the things I enjoy.

However, I sometimes have a hard time delegating because I must know that everything is being done correctly. So I invested a good deal of time into creating systems. Everything in our office has a system.

For example, when I end a first appointment with a client prospect, that prospect is walked into my assistant’s office where a chain of events is set in motion. The second appointment is scheduled; a thank you card is mailed (handwritten); the file goes to another staff member for investment analysis; a balance sheet summary is prepared; etc. By the time the file gets back to me to prepare the financial plan, I have everything I need at my fingertips. This dramatically reduces the time I have to spend preparing for the appointment.

Write it down

This entire system, as well as every process in our office, is written down. This streamlines the process and increases employee efficiency, and it provides me with the freedom to know that everything is done correctly every time, so I don’t constantly worry about the business.

Business efficiency is everything in building a thriving business. If we take the time to work on our business, we will be rewarded with the business and lifestyle we’ve always desired.

A streamlined process ensures that everything is done correctly.

Jim Brogan is president and founder of Brogan Financial in Knoxville, Tenn. He was named Senior Market Advisor’s 2011 Advisor of the Year.
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