founding principal of
Financial Group, LLC
Building and running
a high-level lifestyle
practice requires saying
“No” far more than
Icould have titled this column, “Confes- sions of a lifestyle practice advisor” but I think the lifestyle practice moniker is
widely misunderstood. To me, a lifestyle
practice is one where the strategy of the business is shaped by first deciding the strategy
of my life and the lives of our tiny team. That
is to say I decide what I want my life to look
like, then make the business conform to that
vision. That may sound simple to you, but I
assure you it has not been simple to carry out.
If you’re anything like me, or the typical
advisor, growth feels really good. Adding new
clients, new staff, and office space are the
easiest of the traditional success measures to
quantify. If you have more of those things this
year than you did last year, then you must be
successful. But can that always be true? I’m
so convinced that it isn’t always true that I’ve
shunned many of those traditional success
measures in favor of a ping-pong table instead.
Let me explain.
Imagine that a competitor in your town has
reached retirement age and is very inter-
ested in selling her practice. You learned this
because you’re competitors in the traditional
sense, but you occasionally grab lunch with
this advisor just to chat and share stories (can
you imagine doing such a crazy thing as be-
friend a competitor?!). over lunch you discuss
the opportunity to buy this advisor’s practice
and grow your revenue significantly, eliminate
the need to market to new prospective clients,
In the case of acquiring a new practice, ping-
pong allows us to consider things like firm cul-
ture, profitability, stress on our families, and
the possible impact on our clients if we were
to pursue this opportunity. In taking the time
to flesh these things out in a very informal
manner, we have avoided many of the traps
that ensnare growth-at-all-costs advisors;
huge expensive offices, large and unproduc-
tive staff, low profitability initiatives. It’s a
mind-shift that may transform how you do
business. It has done so to ours.
We often joke in our office that a new addition to our team, whether it be a staff person,
an advisor, or anyone else for that matter,
must be more exciting to us than the ping-pong table. If we’re going to need the space
in the ping-pong room to add a new team
member, that person has to be more beneficial
to achieving our vision than the table is. And
after a year, the table still stands.
You see, building and running a high-level
lifestyle practice requires saying “No” far more
than saying “Yes.” No to distractions, no to
frivolous expenses, no to dead-end pursuits,
no. The key to this approach is having a means
of getting to no rather than always saying yes.
For us, the ping-pong table creates the mental
space by which we look more closely at perceived opportunities before recognizing that it
may be just another trap.
Ultimately, growth can be very good. Without the right growth, problems can creep up.
The key is to get really clear on what “good
growth” is for you and for your practice. Making your business work for you is not a crime;
building your life around a business isn’t
either, but maybe it should be. Let’s go hit the
ball around and talk about, shall we?
How a ping-pong table can change your
business and your life