Advisors: How To Make Problems Disappear

Have you ever noticed how when you fix one thing in your business, a whole load of other issues just seem to disappear?

I call it the domino effect; where you knock down the first domino and set off a chain reaction of other wins. 

I remember back in my financial planning business in Sydney we were in disarray. We had started doing real financial planning work for clients and conducting annual reviews. No biggie right?

Except that with a relatively modest number of clients on the review service, we had work backing up, files piled on desks, and a feeling of being behind and out of control. And to add to the crisis, my business partner was about to head off on a 6 week US holiday he’d been planning for 2 years. If he could have found a way out of that trip, he would have done, it was that desperate. 

A few days later, after my business partner departed and the chaos continued, I had a brainwave. Continuing on like this was pointless. I told my team I was going to my office, closing the door, and not coming out until I’d identified what the problem was. I was in there for four hours.

However, when I emerged, I realised we were doing things that weren’t necessary. Like preparing detailed financial planning reports for clients. These took ages and were often re-worked after we met with the client because there was a typo or small change to the strategy we’d recommended. We weren’t even sure clients liked them.

So we stopped producing the reports.

That one small change allowed us to not only clear the backlog by the time my business partner returned from his trip but it also effectively doubled our capacity and we went on to add new client after new client, without having to add new team members. It was a golden period in our growth. 

And it came from solving the one seemingly small issue.  

I’ve seen the same thing happen when owner advisers decide to sort out their technology issues, rather than just work around the problem as they may have done in the past. 

The next time a tech issue arises, they call the software provider’s helpline or get one of their team to show them how to solve the issue. As they wait for a tech support person to take their call, their brain is screaming at them to stop wasting time and just work around the problem as they always do. But they resist. And a second later someone comes on the line to help them. 

Not only have they learned the solution to their specific problem, but they’ve learned a new skill that applies to every other problem in their business; identify the real issue and solve that. 

Other dominos start to fall as a result. Their tech skills improve, jobs start taking less time, there are fewer errors, and work starts pouring out the other end of the sausage machine. 

Who’d a thunk it?

I’ve seen this so many times it’s like a law. When you solve one small thing, other problems you thought were issues tend to fall off your issues list as well. 

The real effort is in identifying that first baby step you need to take. Carl Richards gave a great example of this in his recent article The Magic Of A Single Micro Action. His first step? Putting on his gym kit. Then dominos start to fall and he’s done his workout and feels better for it.

I see this all the time at FP Advance in my Uncover Your Business Potential programme. 

We encourage every business to start with the basics and to get them absolutely nailed. When they do it’s amazing how many other issues then just disappear.

For example, firms I start working with will often say lead flow is an issue. That is, they would like more on-target leads. 

Here’s how we fix this in 99% of cases:

  • Complete some clarity questions on what your business will look like in the future. 
  • Identify who you really love to serve.
  • Segment your clients and disengage from those that no longer fit. 
  • Create service packages for the segments you love to work with.
  • Adjust your pricing strategy to best fit who you love to serve and the packages you’ve created.
  • Create simple processes that allow you to deliver your service consistently and slickly.
  • Assemble a team around you to run the process.

As each and every one of these steps is attempted, things change for the better. They don’t even need to be done perfectly to yield benefits. 

None of them is seemingly to do with marketing and lead generation. But the result? 

More on-target clients start coming through the door. I’m not sure why either, but it always happens. 

In some businesses, we never ever get onto what you and I would think of as marketing-type activity. 

In other firms, we do of course, but we’re doing it now from a place of real strength. There’s time and space to put the ‘think’ work in that’s required to market yourself well and to deliver consistently on the brand promise and the marketing activities that you decide to engage in (e.g. producing blogs or videos or podcasts to reach your audience).

At the end of a bunch of seemingly small and un-sexy ‘work-ons’, you end up looking like a genius and other firms want to know what you did. 

Although, when you tell them what you actually did, they’re not so enthralled. They want to hear that you did something amazing and truly unique. When all you really did was knocked over the first domino.

The secret to success? Do what’s necessary. Knockdown the first small domino.

But I’ll never sell a book on that basis.

Let me know how you go.

Related: Creating A Business You Can Be Proud Of