The challenges and opportunities of starting a new advisory business


Leaving the security blanket of working in a larger organisation certainly has its pluses and minuses, yet that’s how almost all of us got started in this fantastic profession.

Of course there are some challenges when you go out on your own, including:

  • Just surviving for the first year or two
  • Creating everything from scratch (from business processes to which technology to use)
  • Building a team (if you find yourself needing some support)
  • Finding enough new clients (that elusive marketing thing)
  • Time pressure

They key is to view those challenges as opportunities. Having the proverbial blank sheet of paper, which allows you to design your business the way you’ve always wanted to, is an opportunity that you only get once in this life; so grab it with both hands.

I know it might feel a bit scary when you start out (and believe me everyone feels that fear, even if they don’t let it show), but in my opinion there has never been a better time to build your own advisory firm. Here’s a few reasons why:

1. The path’s already travelled

It’s no longer a case of carving out the path for yourself. Other people are already doing it, so you can learn from their successes and failures. Even if all you did was pick one or two successful firms and copy what they do, you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Obviously once you’ve mastered the core skills in running a successful advisory business, you can then build on those skills and shape your own future.

2. You can earn a great living

Good advisers can earn in excess of £100k pa. Less than 1% of the population can lay claim to that! Additionally, you can build a capital value in your client bank or business that has a saleable value in the future. If you’re earning less than £100k pa, getting to this level is relatively straightforward. The high performers in the profession are earning well above that.

3. You’re changing lives

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know here, but your clients think you are amazing. Why? Because you change their lives. What you do really makes a difference. Never underestimate its value.

4. It’s a job for life

The government just can’t stop moving the goalposts, so you will probably have a job for life. There’s not many of those going around in the current employment market and it’s always reassuring to have a certain level of job security. In this case, you are simply working hard to create your own security. It’s worth any bumps and bruises you get in the first year or two – believe me.

5. You can keep the ‘Small’ in ‘Small business’

Running a great business, whether that be an empire or a lifestyle business, has never been easier. Today you can keep your business tiny and outsource or rent almost everything you need, from office space to technology and people.

6. You are the master of your own ship

Running your own business means you get to do things your way. For most small business owners, this is a key driver. Most business owners I know could never return to a corporate culture where they’re being told what to do and how to do it. Even more exciting is that you get to choose your own clients (and staff). When you run your own show, you need never work with a dickhead again. What’s not to love about that?!

7. You can compete with the big boys

It’s never been easier for small firms to compete with big business. Technology has made this possible. Just look at the low cost of hardware and the incredible availability of free software. I can remember when a mobile phone was the size of two house bricks and cost $5,000 (AUD). Big businesses just keep kicking owngoals, so mistrust of larger institutions has never been higher. A huge proportion of the population favours dealing with smaller firms because they feel trustworthy and personal. In those businesses you get to talk to a real person, not a machine or an overseas call centre. So, make sure you remember these things as you get out of bed every day. There’s no doubt the future is fantastic for owner-operated advisory firms and you’re part of it!

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