Advisors, Shred Your List of Goals and Listen To My Mentor

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shred paperToward the end of last year, I spent time thinking about what the next year could bring for my RIA and consulting business. Where did I want it to be in another 12 months?

Like most of you, I brainstormed my ideas. I laid out my goals. I was ready for January 1st. Or so I thought.

Then a phone call with my mentor challenged this common routine.

During the call, my mentor asked me, “What’s the one thing you want to achieve?” I had my answer ready. I proceed to list off my “numerous things.” She stopped me, and asked the question again. “What is your One Thing?”. Oh… right, one.

We agreed I had too many goals in mind and discussed what my one main focus should be. We landed on the goal of increasing brand awareness for my RIA, by attending and exhibiting at teacher conferences. We then agreed the majority of my efforts should be focused on that one goal. It is my One Thing.

Having a laser-focus on one main goal is helping my efforts and progress as I work towards achieving it. Even though I have other goals, like everyone else, they now pale in comparison with this main goal.

What’s your “One Thing”?

The conversation continued and I learned there are 2 other pitfalls most of us fall into.

As we continued to talk about this One Thing, it became obvious I needed a deliberate and multi-layered approach to achieving it.

For instance, if I simply “went to a conference as an exhibitor” and had no plan, I would be failing my mission. It’d end up being a very expensive day out.

To avoid that trap, we started to walk through specifics.

  • What methods will I use to engage people in the Finance for Teachers brand, and how will I engage with them in the weeks and months following?
  • How will I evaluate different approaches in the exhibit hall and which one I should use next or drop?
  • Out of the three educator conferences I will be attending this year, how will I make the next one better than the last?

Asking myself these specific questions (and holding myself accountable to actually answer them) led to a multi-pronged approach including: data collection prior to each conference about attendees; research with specialists, vendors and the conference organizers about optimizing a booth; careful budgeting for each event, social media presence before, during and after conferences, and much more.

So, how do you plan to achieve your One Thing?

Toward the end of our call, my mentor and I both agreed that while the focus of my One Thing was to increase brand awareness of my RIA, the most important question for all was – How was this going to be measured?

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. – Peter Drucker

At first, brand awareness didn’t feel like something that would be easy to quantify (and it’s still a work in progress), but we got creative and considered key ‘awareness’ metrics that align with my individual business. Here are some of things that are going to play into this:

  • Ensure accurate tracking of money spent on these activities versus earned through new clients or opportunities
  • Make a new mailing list for my blog so that I can categorize people whom I meet via these conferences
  • Tag my social media activity with a specific hashtag to provide easy sorting of conference activity
  • Make sure to ask new prospects or centers of influence where they heard about Finance for Teachers, making sure that conference related activity is one option

How will you measure the progress of your One Thing?

I’m curious to know how your 2014 goals are going thus far. What advice or tactics have worked for you?

Photo credit: recycleharmony, Flickr

Dave Grant, CFP®, is the founder of Finance For Teachers a fee-only RIA in Cary, IL. Dave exclusively serves teachers in Illinois by helping them to organize their financial lives and live a fulfilled life. He is also a columnist at Financial Planning magazine, a ghost writer for various companies, and the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for over 300 young, fee-only planners.