A Work in Progress: Discovering Your True Goals

Building the business you want is not as easy as you think, because most owner-advisors don't really know what they want.

When I opened my doors as a business consultant to independent advisors some 16 years ago, I thought my job was to help owner-advisors build the firms they wanted — all I had to do was ask them what they wanted their businesses to be and work with them to create those businesses. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that’s not really my job at all.

The problem is that most owner-advisors don’t really know what they want (even if they think they do). So helping them create the firm they envision usually doesn’t make them any happier than they were — and often makes them less happy. To succeed as a consultant, and help advisors build firms they’re happy with, I’ve learned that I have to start by helping them figure out what they really want. As it turns out, that’s not as easy as you might think.

Ask any owner-advisor and she or he will tell you what they want their firm to be. For a while, I listened, but I realized that the visions they were describing weren’t, for the most part, based on any business knowledge or meaningful business experience or even what they really wanted.