Applying Tested In The Trenches by Ron Carson & Steve Sanduski into our practice
Today we're gonna look at mapping out the path of your business, updating your simplified business plan, and then creating your unique selling proposition. I'm gonna share what's in the book, “Tested in the Trenches”. I'm sure you've heard of this one before. Yep. I'm holding it the right way. We're gonna dive deep into chapter number one of this book and official title of the book is “Tested in the Trenches, A Nine Step Plan for Success as a New Era Advisor”. It's by Ron Carson and Steve Sandusky and this chapter is called Blueprinting: Gaining Clarity and Igniting Your Relentless Burning Desire.
So let's get into the book review first. Ron and Steve, they start with blueprinting. So blueprinting is about creating a clear plan that outlines your vision, mission, and values of your business. It helps you gain clarity on your goals, and then creates a roadmap for actually achieving them. Ron and Steve emphasized that having a blueprint is critical for success as a new era. Advisor now, let's start by discussing what blueprinting is and why it's essential for financial advisors. According to Ron and Steve, blueprinting is about mapping out the DNA of your business and understanding the core beliefs that drive you and your team, and then translating those beliefs into actual tangible outcomes for your clients. Blueprinting provides a foundation for the rest of the steps in the process, enabling you to build a solid business plan that serves your clients and aligns with your values. One of the key takeaways from this chapter is creating a blueprint that requires you to just get very clear on your values, mission, and vision of your business.
Unveiling the DNA of Your Business
To do this, Ron and Steve suggest conducting the values exercise where you identify core values and then align them with your business goals. They also recommend creating a mission statement that reflects your values and guides you on your decision making processes. One example of a company that's done this is Patagonia Their mission statement is “Build the best product. Cause no unnecessary harm. Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”That's important to them. That guides everything they do. It reflects their values. It provides a roadmap for their business decisions as well.
Clarifying Your Values, Mission, and Vision
Another essential component of blueprinting is just creating that vision statement. Your vision statement should be clear and compelling and be a description of where you want your business to be in the future. One story I think of that illustrates the power of the vision and kind of putting down on paper what you're trying to do is that story of Jim Carey. You know him as the comedian, he wrote down a check or wrote a check for 10 million for acting services rendered, and he carried it in his wallet for years and he visualized himself achieving that goal and becoming a successful actor. And eventually his dream actually became a reality. Creating a vision can help you just stay focused on your goals and remind you of why you started your business in the first place. And as Ron and Steve note, without a clear vision, it's impossible to create a plan that takes you where you want to go. So question for you right now. Have you ever envisioned what the next year will look like, or maybe the next three years are gonna look like? What do you want for your ideal day? What would your ideal day look like?
What is your ideal day?
You know, for one advisor, I know here's the ideal day. He wakes up, he spends time with his family. And his kids and his kids go to school. And then he plays nine holes at the golf course before getting into the office. And he gets into the office maybe 10:30/11. He's got two client meetings with two quality people that he really enjoys being with. And most of all, the prep has been done and after the meetings, he does a few check-ins with his team, some of the operational duties and things like that. But, most of the operational duties of the business are handled and running smoothly, and then he heads home and he spends the evening with his family. That's his ideal day. That's what he envisioned. To me, the important thing about having a vision of that future is that if you can actually feel what it feels like that's gonna motivate you. It'll motivate you so much that you'll actually want to do the things that'll get you to that point, right? You can do one of three things here. You can either not have a plan for the future at all. You can fall into the trap of focusing on what can go wrong, or maybe worrying about what could go wrong and what to avoid, or you can focus on your ideal future. And have positive anticipation for that ideal future. You really get to pick what you wanna do.
Creating the business plan
Now that we've discussed the importance of values, mission, and vision statements, let's turn to the final piece of the blue printing process, which is creating the business plan. Ron and Steve suggest creating a detailed business plan that outlines your goals and how you're gonna achieve them. Your business plan should include specific action steps, timelines, and metrics for measuring success. And it should be flexible enough to allow you to change and adjust as your business grows and evolves. Now, one example of a company that's used a business plan to achieve great access, that's obviously tons and tons and tons of them but it's Starbucks. In the early days, the company Howard Schultz, he had a clear vision and he created a third place between work and home where people could go to relax and socialize. He developed a detailed business plan that included everything from the stores to the training of the employees, and this plan helped Starbucks become the massive company that it is today. Now that we've covered the importance of blueprinting and the key components of vision and purpose, it's time to create your mission statement, and I'll share what the book says about mission statements and then how we can apply it.
Hone your mission with a concise mission statement
The mission statement is a concise statement that defines what you do. For whom you do it, and then why you do it. It should be simple. It should be memorable and easy to understand. The mission statement is not just for you, but it's also for your clients and your team members. We found that that's the important thing for the team, and it should inspire and motivate them. One of the most important pieces or aspects of creating your mission statement is ensuring that it aligns with your purpose. According to Ron and Steve, your mission statement should be consistent with your purpose and should provide clear and compelling reason why you exist as a business and why you do what you do. Your mission statement should also be aligned with your values. Your values are the guiding principles that shape your business and your life, and they're the beliefs that are important to you and the ones that you want to uphold. Your values should be reflected in your mission statement as well. And Ron and Steve suggest asking yourself the following questions to create your mission statement. It's, what do we do? Who do we do it for? Why do we do it? And what makes us unique? And here's an example of a mission statement here. It's on the new version of page 74, I believe. It's “To provide exceptional financial planning and investment management services to individuals and families who are committed to achieving their financial goals. We believe that client's success is our success and we're dedicated to building long-term relationships. Based on trust, integrity, and outstanding service.”
Simple, clear, and aligned
So as you can see, mission statements, they're simple, clear, and aligned with the purpose of the firm. Now, for us, at Streamline we took a more, even more simple approach, and it's not as long and it's not as in depth, but I'll share why it works and, what we're doing and how we're doing it. You know, we, we thought a lot as a team and we thought about the “why” be behind, why we do what we do, and the thing that we all agreed on. That was really a great feeling. Was when you could actually see the burden being lifted off of our client's shoulders through conversation, through working together. It happens after a few months of working together, you know, one to two, sometimes three months, and they say, I feel so much better now working with you. Or, I'm not worried anymore. You know, I'm not consistently checking my accounts anymore on the values. It's just liberating. Those are words and, and, and things and quotes that people have said to us, and at the end of the client meetings, people will say, “oh gosh, I came in here and I was kind of worried talking about the financial things, but I feel so much better now after talking with you.” And that right there, that's incredibly rewarding. As you know, I'm sure you've, you've seen this or felt it or heard it too. So that's what our simple mission statement is. It's “We remove the burden from people's shoulders through good decisions about money.” It's simple. It's not fancy, but it's easy to remember. And, we also love talking to people about deeper things than money. You know, we bring up faith, we bring up family, and fitness and purpose to them. Those are the conversations that are, are truly motivating to us. Now, every firm's different. That's what gets us juiced or jazzed. And, and that's what we like to do. And, and it keeps everyone motivated and moving in the same direction, uh, to share these stories. Every time a client expresses that feeling or just feels better about their finances, so now that you've created your mission statement, if you're following this and doing it, it's time to develop your unique selling proposition – USP.
Find your unique selling proposition
Your USP sets you apart from your competition, and it defines what you do better than anyone else. The USP that should be unique, specific and relevant to your target market. According to Ron and Steve, your USP should be clear, concise, a compelling statement that answers a question, why should I do business with you instead of your competitors? I actually have another book recommendation just on this alone and it is the book “Differentiate or Die”. Let me know if you want me to do a video or a podcast like this in the comments below. Ron and Steve, suggest the following steps. Number one, identify your target market. Who are your ideal clients? What are their needs? What are their wants? What are their desires? Number two is analyze your competitors. Who are your main competitors and, and what are they? What are they doing? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What do they offer that you don't? Number three is identify your unique strengths, your own strengths. What do you do better than anyone else? What makes you stand out? What are your unique skills, your talents and your abilities? Number four is to combine your target market and unique strengths. What specific needs, wants, or desires of your target market can you fulfill better than anybody else? Five is to create the USP, unique selling proposition. The clear, concise, compelling statement that answers the question, why should I do business with you instead of your competitors? Here's an example of a USP. “We are the only financial planning firm that specializes in helping young families save for college, while also preparing for retirement. Our unique expertise in this area combined with our commitment to outstanding service makes us a clear choice for families who wanna secure their financial future.” As you can see, the USP is specific, relevant, and addresses a specific need of that target market. And I already mentioned the Differentiate or Die Book by Jack Trout, again, I want to do that just because it's helped us so much. So, to sum it up though, blueprinting is about gaining clarity. Igniting your relentless burning desire by identifying your purpose and creating your mission statement, and then developing your USP. By doing this, you're gonna create a clear direction for your business, and you'll be able to communicate your value proposition better than anybody else can. So I hope that was helpful, going through this book, Tested in the Trenches by Ron Carson and Steve Sandusky.