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Are you working on or in your business?

01 August 2008 Esm? Davies, Celestis

We often bury ourselves in work as we cope with the demands of a stressful environment, leaving very little time to reflect. Yet it is now that we should step back and work on our practices, rather than just in our practices.

Working in your practice refers to the various functions that you perform as a financial advisor. Working on your practice refers to your responsibilities as a practice owner. It has to do with ensuring that the business is on track to deliver on your key objectives and is functioning efficiently in the process.

In addition, it means evaluating the performance of employees, yourself included, and the utilisation of resources. It is time for reflection.

Get feedback

Start by sharing your thoughts and getting opinions. If you have partners or fellow stakeholders, involve them because it is time for co-operation and commitment. Your employees will see things differently and their perceptions may offer fresh insights. Talk to your spouse, whose external perspective could prompt yet another approach to your thinking.

Reflecting on the fundamentals

What you should reflect on will differ from practice to practice, but there are fundamentals relevant to most practices including:
* A review of your core objectives. Are they achievable this year, or should adjustments be made?
* The business plan. Little time remains to achieve this year's goals and the question is whether you are doing all the right things to accomplish them. A review of your planned activities will make a difference.
*An analysis of income versus expenditure. What is it costing you to earn each Rand? Cost cutting may not be imperative, but a firm grip on productivity and efficiency could enhance profitability.
* An appraisal of performances. Are you and your employees performing at optimum levels? Are there factors such as training, skills development or even additional rewards that could enhance performance?

Refocus or realign

There will be other issues that you should be considering but the point is that you need to take time out to work on your practice. This requires honest, critical assessment and you may find you need to take steps to refocus or realign and even improve what you are currently doing. You might benefit by consulting a coach or practice consultant.

If you want a candid assessment of your practice, enter the SA Best Practice of the Year competition. Each participant undertakes an on-line business assessment and receives a detailed health report on the practice. This alone will provide a platform for the growth and development of your practice and last year's contestants will attest to that fact.

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