June 3, 2020

4 Operations Lessons in 4 Years of Business

Written By Charesse Spiller

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This summer I’m celebrating four years in business – which is an exciting milestone for any small business owner! In the past four years, I’ve gone from being a solopreneur to managing a team that now helps me implement client processes and workflows, as well as focus on client service.

This summer I’m celebrating four years in business – which is an exciting milestone for any small business owner! In the past four years, I’ve gone from being a solopreneur to managing a team that now helps me implement client processes and workflows, as well as focus on client service. It’s often said that businesses can be broken down into three major categories:

  1. Years 1-4

  2. Years 4-10

  3. Years 10+

There’s no hard and fast rule about different timelines in your business, but one thing has been clear to me both as an operations consultant and a business owner: business fluctuates notably in your “start-up” years, and there are many lessons learned. As I move to the next phase of my business and continue to grow, I wanted to share the top four lessons I’ve learned in the first four years of business. Hopefully, you find them helpful! 

Celebrating Four Years

First and foremost, I feel incredibly grateful for where I am in my business right now. I truly believe that hard work pays off, and the long nights and early mornings are worth it when I see the impact my team and I are able to make on the lives of our clients. I also feel grateful for the team members and support system who have helped this business grow to where it is today.

I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to make a difference with our clients, both in their businesses and their lives. Seeing clients free up time, increase confidence, and grow by systematizing the businesses they have is life-changing.

When I first started as an operations consultant, I rarely had time to think about the big picture or the impact I wanted to make. Like many business owners, I was too busy in the weeds, serving clients, and hustling. Now, however, I feel confident that I’ve honed my “why” – and this has helped me provide elevated services to my clients, grow my team, and so much more. 

#1: Give The People What They Want

It took several years to hone my service model, and after developing several different programs that never quite stuck I figured out what was going wrong:

I needed to give my clients what they needed.

Now, most of the clients I speak with plug into a specific package I’ve pre-developed based on the needs of financial planners at different points in their businesses. These packages are based on years of experience of working with firms, and truly identifying what works best for them.

Many of the advisors I work with struggle with streamlining their processes and technology, so I want to ensure that the work I do is helping them solve that problem. Throughout our journey together, I ensure that my clients get the resources, recommendations, and accountability they need to feel confident in moving on to next steps. 

Often, as a business owner, it’s tempting to feel like you’re giving your clients what they need – but in reality, it’s what you want them to need. You need to understand your ideal audience, and what pain points you can help them solve when developing your service model. 

#2: Grow Your Team

As I continued to grow, I realized that I couldn’t be a one-woman show. This is often true for the advisors I work with, as well. The more you spread yourself too thin, the less you can serve your clients exceptionally. If you try to scale solo, you need to have efficiency in each of your processes. Even then, you may find that you hit a ceiling. Eventually, you’ll need to sacrifice tasks in either your personal or professional life. 

I love having specialists on my team who can hone into their craft. It helps my business level up, and continue to provide exceptional service to our clients and increase the impact we’re able to make. Over the next few years, I plan to evolve how I think about servicing clients even more. 

I know that many solo advisors fear handing things off, but I’ve learned that the journey can be exciting! If you’re thinking of growing, consider taking a deep-dive into your service model and your clients’ needs. 

#3: Focus on Education

It’s so hard to make time for education as an entrepreneur, but I’m finding that it’s critical – especially as my business (and my team) continues to grow. I’ve also found that digging into education beyond my industry or zone of expertise has been useful. Many advisors get stuck finding Continuing Education that only helps them hone their financial planning skill set. 

However, as a business owner, it’s important to evolve all of your necessary skills. For example, I’ve focused on honing my consulting, project management, and operational skills. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, don’t be afraid to admit your blind spots, and seek out programs or consultants who can help you improve.

#4: Practicing What I Preach

I’ve consulted financial advisors on their operational practices for four years. Now, as my team grows, I’m focusing on practicing what I preach. Creating a true “Starbucks experience” takes work! If you want a seamless, scalable experience for your business, you need to invest time and energy into your processes. You want to make your own life easier while still increasing your ability to help others and make an impact. The only way that’s possible is to stay organized, prepared, and focused. If you’re ready to level up your business, you need to invest time in working on your business – not in your business.

New Changes in Year Four

As I look ahead to the next year, I’m leaning into finding a better way to balance scaling my business with caring for my own mental and emotional health. This is something that, while not directly connected to operations and processes, can dramatically impact a business owner’s ability to scale. Personally, I’ve built a routine in my own life that works for me. It involves a set morning routine, focusing on my fitness, and keeping to strict working hours (with the exception of the occasional weekend warrior session!). As a new Houston transplant and newlywed, my goal is to settle into my new life while still staying on top of growing my business.

Are you ready to level up your business? I hope these four lessons I’ve learned in the past four years can help! If you need more help as you continue to grow, I encourage you to schedule a call! 

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