Being seen by a client as indispensable has at its core two factors:
- the client’s perception that you understand their most important things and
- that you are key to helping them achieve them and stay on track.
Success is a perception that varies with individuals. For control freak entrepreneurs, feeling successful is a big deal and if we can help them feel more in control and thus more successful, then we are well on the way to them seeing us as indispensable. Ultimately, it’s about the client valuing your role in their future success (by their definition) and hopefully you can see now that advisory services are not JUST about problem solving. The “most important things” that drive entrepreneurs tend to rarely change, but they do gradually, they are refined as a business matures and an individual’s life evolves and develops. At its most basic, strategic planning and goal setting is about asking three key questions, of course within various other sub-questions and structures, but none-the-less, three core questions.
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want (not just need) to go?
- How do you plan to get there?
These questions, discussions if you will, are key to successfully providing advisory services.
Now, consider why strategic planning and goal setting is so important and core to delivering structured client centric advisory services. A strategic plan:
- is a live, vibrant plan of the owners’ goals and how they move towards what they want and is owned by the clients and needs to be up to date
- should NOT be complicated or complex.
- matters and is a key part of providing structured business advisory services.
You will want to avoid a “zig-zag” strategy with clients, as this will be chaotic, waste resources, take too long and doesn’t provide any semblance of control. The best reality is a smooth curved route to a subtly refining destination.
The best strategic planning process when advising and facilitating clients is this simple:
- Articulate the Most Important Things for ALL owners and find out how they truly FEEL about things now and how they want them to be in their personal objectives and aims.
- Debate and agree on aligned Strategic Objectives over the next 3 to 5 These are the business goals and are outcomes that are specific, achievable, and measurable.
- Reflect on the key issues and opportunities to get from now to the Strategic Objectives.
- Based upon 1 to 3, look at the next 5 years in terms of a realistic financial business model.
- Based upon 1 to 4, prioritize the projects for the next 12 months.
- Based upon 1 to 5, agree to the next step initial actions.
- Record all this in a simple plan and a 12-month Road Map to visually set the path forward.
When your clients have a clearly articulated and recorded strategy, the following benefits will accrue:
- Your clients are much more likely to achieve their most important things and know exactly where they are at any time
- They will be focused and optimizing resources
- Your clients will free long-term investment decisions by having clear short, medium, and long-term perspectives
- Your clients will have greater flexibility, because when they know what they want, it’s easier to adapt
- Your clients can gain enhanced buy-in when they share their goals with co-owners or relevant key employees
- Your clients gain that magic of a greater feeling of control and when they feel more in control, success is more likely