HOW I MADE MY BUSINESS THE WAY I ENVISIONED
By Jerry Butler
I entered the industry in 1994. I left a position where I had above average earnings after completing an MBA. I was doing very well with this particular company but thought I could make a fortune in the investment business. I went to a bank owned firm, got tremendous training and made 1/3 of what I was making!! I spent 7 years there and though I built my income back up to where it was when I left I was probably considered a below average producer but more importantly I did not enjoy what I was doing.
I proceeded to spend an uneventful another seven years in the industry where I was making a living but certainly not kicking butt. I remembered thinking – “Great – I have worked my way up to average!!” Not exactly what I had in mind in my late 20s and 30s when I was attending post secondary classes for 15 years.
QUEENSTON CONSULTING – THE START
They say 90% of success is recognizing an opportunity and I got an opportunity where, once I dug into it, I “thought” I had something special. I was approached by an advisor team I knew to mine my contacts and see if I could find a seller. I did some research and discovered no one in Canada was specializing in selling advisor’s businesses. I got very excited and exited from a couple of businesses I was involved with and jumped into trying to find financial advice businesses to sell.
The one thing I had learned as a “financial advisor” is a great relevant education does not create a line of people dying to do business with you.
I went through the following process to “build that better mouse trap!!”
(i.) SWOT – (strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities) of my skill set and this particular opportunity. As I am want to do – I started with Weaknesses. Terrible sales person. A bit arrogant i.e. know it all (I may not have lost this completely). Strengths – education, analytical skills, not afraid of work. Opportunity – average age of advisors (old but getting older – more about this later) and no competition but I also recognized that the threat was a very low barrier to entry. All you need is a telephone.
(ii.) I designed my Business Model to fit my strengths and the opportunity as I saw it. The key to me was to mass market to my target because I quickly recognized that I was looking for a needle in a very large haystack. My plan was two-fold – 1. build a very large data base and use email blasts to find that needle and go and speak to anyone anywhere in Canada. I gave presentations from coast to coast. The goal was to create “interest” from marketing to the data base so that people would want to speak to me. I quickly recognized that interest was created from having sellers and using content – my knowledge of what financial advice businesses were selling for.
(iii.) Clearly defined target market. I now think this is the most important factor in a successful business (besides executing). My target market was financial advisors and it was easy to find names and numbers on the internet as they are trying to find clients so usually make their contact info available. We have since taken a few other steps including mining Linkedin, etc. When I was a financial advisor my target market was people with savings wanting advice. There is no clear way to know where they are – not location and not even profession.
(iv.) Strategic / Game Plan. This is so important for me for a couple reasons. I knew I needed to have both financial objectives but also the activities I needed to do. I needed a measuring stick to recognize what has to be done to hit the financial objectives. So I started an “Inventory of What Matters”. These are the variables I thought I needed to achieve my objectives. What I did not know for a few years is that it also allowed me to spot trends. For example – assume your experience tells you that you need to speak with 10 people to find 1 prospect and you need 10 prospects to make one sale. So you keep up what you a