Lessons From My First Year In Business

I’ve got some exciting news: Today marks the one year anniversary of the start of my Financial Planning business.

Yes, my business name (Forthright Finances) has been around for a few years.  But that included some time when I was working at my old company – who controlled and oversaw how I did things.

Wanting to be completely independent, for my clients and for myself, I decided to end that relationship and start my own business separate from them.

So on March 27th, 2019 I made the leap and went out all on my own.  100% ownership, 100% control, 100% responsibility for everything. It was (and is) all on me.  

It has been a fun, challenging, and very informative year.  

As I’ve thought about this past year, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned, and how it can apply to your financial life.

Here are three things I’ve learned from my first year in business:
1. It’s Not About Information, It’s About Implementation

For all of my life, I have always valued education and information.  I have a bachelors degree, a masters degree, I’m a certified financial planner, I even teach this stuff at a local college.  I really value learning.

But sometimes I take things a little too far in terms of learning.  For those of you familiar with the enneagram, I am a 5, which in short means I tend to seek out and accumulate A TON of information before making decisions.  Which means that oftentimes my decisions can be slow and tedious.

While that may be prudent at times, it can really harm your business.  Because if all you’re doing is accumulating knowledge, but you aren’t acting on it, then how are you helping people?  How are you making their life, and your life, better?

What good is information if you don’t do anything with you?  It’s worthless.  

There is only so much information you can accumulate before you simply need to make a decision, and act.  So that you can help others and help yourself.

Even if you don’t have everything figured out, you need to get started, and work to get better as you go.  Because perfection at the start (or ever) simply isn’t possible.  

Perfection is a myth.  Don’t buy into it. Just get started and then focus on improving.

What This Means For Your Money:  You might know that you need to do something in your financial life.  Maybe you know you need to start spending less than you make. You might know that you should be contributing to your retirement.  

Whatever it is….get started!  Stop delaying what you need to do, and start implementing it!

It’s an especially good time to start investing since the US stock market is down 20-25% in the last month.  That means stocks are on sale, and if you’ve got a long term time horizon (five plus years), it could be a really good time to buy.  

So stop putting off what you know you need to do, and start taking action on it.

2. Accountability (And Support) Is Key  

The first couple of months I spent so much time trying to figure out how to do everything related to being a business owner.  There’s a pretty steep learning curve to some of this stuff. And frankly I wasn’t growing as quickly as I wanted to.

But that changed 4 months into starting my business, as I joined a Mastermind group of fellow financial planners who were (and are) in a similar point of starting their firm.  

Every two weeks, we meet on Zoom and talk about any and everything related to building a business, getting better at financial planning, and serving our clients.

We give each other support when we need a pick up, and also share tips and knowledge that we’ve learned throughout our careers and experiences.  And maybe most importantly, we keep each other accountable to achieving our business goals. 

Because of the immense knowledge, support, and accountability offered by them, I was able to speed up my progress and become a much better business owner and financial planner, in a much quicker time frame than I ever expected.

Why did I experience so much growth?  Because I wasn’t just depending on myself and my own knowledge.  I was able to leverage the skills, talents and experience of my three fellow business owners (and now friends).  

Quick shout out to them:  Annelise, Charles and Dallen – THANK YOU!  I am so lucky to be able to learn and grow with you.

What This Means For Your Money:  If you aren’t making the financial progress you want to be making, find someone to keep you accountable.  Find someone to support and encourage you. And frankly, find someone who knows more than you, so you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.  So you can leverage their years of knowledge and experience.

My best recommendation on how to do that?  Hire a Certified Financial Planner, whose job will be to make sure you implement good financial decisions.

3. Get Outside Feedback So You Can See Clearly

During one of my Mastermind meetings I just mentioned, I said something to the group along the lines of “I’m really upset by my lack of progress in my business.  I really feel like I should be doing more.”

Which prompted one of the members of the group (Annelise) to say: “Scott, what are you talking about?  You’ve gotten so much done recently. You’re doing great.”  

I frankly didn’t agree with her at the time, but after our call I thought about it some more and listed all of the things that I had accomplished recently.  

Here’s the list I came up with:

After I reviewed the list, I realized that Annelise was right.  I did accomplish a lot.  I made a lot of progress in my business and in my skills as a financial planner.

What’s my point?  That sometimes you can’t see your situation clearly, and you need to rely on others to help you make sense of things.  To help you see things accurately.

What This Means For Your Money:  I’m just going to repeat my previous point, because I think it’s so important.  If you aren’t able to make sense of your financial life, if you aren’t able to figure out what you should prioritize and focus on, get yourself help.  

There are honest, hard working, very talented financial planners out there.  I may be biased, but I am one of them! I encourage you to set up a call with me so we can implement these lessons in your own life.  You can set up a time with me here.

If for some crazy, irrational reason you don’t want to work with me, I’d encourage you to reach out to one of my fellow Mastermind group members that I mentioned in this article.

Here are their names and websites:

Annelise Bretthauer,  http://riseupfp.com/
Charles Thomas,   https://intrepideaglefinance.com/
Dallen Haws, https://hawsfinancialplanning.com/