business planning

Frisky as a Puppy

© Can Stock Photo / mvaligursky

We recently wrote about our plans to keep on managing your needs, and those of the friends and loved ones you keep sending to us. Bottom line, we have to scale up.

Greater effectiveness gives us the time we need to talk to you and understand what you are trying to accomplish. Our systems and our staffing are key to the effort. The scale we are building adds to the resiliency of the organization.

An interesting byproduct of intending to work to age 92 is that the business seems as frisky as a puppy. Why? Maybe because I have thirty more years to work. While some of my colleagues are coasting into retirement, we are planning for the decades ahead.

Those plans are getting exciting.

1. You know about the understudy to our Client Service Specialist Larry Wiederspan: Patsy Havenridge, Client Service Assistant. She is already on the job, working and training with Larry and Greg.

2. Technology Associate Max Leibman is working on a project basis, part-time, building a new operating system for the business. This will last through year-end, or longer. This new system will be a platform to automate and simplify our administrative tasks, freeing up our staff to spend more time with you and on seeking opportunities to grow your accounts.

3. Our Marketing Associate Caitie Leibman, within three semesters of her doctorate in English, is spending some part-time hours for the firm–outside of and without interfering with her current work as Director of the Writing Center at Doane University. Fittingly, she is collaborating with Greg Leibman to improve our communications and provide more consistency.

4. Caitie’s partner, Operations Associate Billy Garver, is also engaged in projects for us. His master’s degree in statistics is a good base from which to add depth to our research and portfolio management capabilities. His work with online course content provides some insight into things we are trying to do with http://www.228Main.com. He will continue to serve on the adjunct faculty at Doane University.

We cannot know whether the current projects turn into more permanent connections with these talented people. But having more of the next generation more involved with 228 Main is wonderful.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Doane University and LPL Financial are not affiliated.

Here We Grow Again

© Can Stock Photo / ajithclicks

We spend a lot of time thinking about business. Shares of common stock are percentage ownership interests in businesses, after all. But lately we have had to spend some time thinking about our business. It keeps growing.

Our idea has long been that growing your buckets is the best way to grow the business. So we put all of our energy into that task, and talking to you clients instead of strangers. You evidently talk about us–word of mouth is an amazing thing.

We think the best strategy to manage growth is a concept we learned by revamping our communications beginning in 2015. The digital venues like 228Main.com are scalable. In other words, when we communicate to dozens of clients, hundreds or thousands of others can listen in with no additional cost or effort or time on our part.

Scalability in our operations means systematizing the things that would be done better if they were systematized. Scalability in our staff means getting understudies in place for every human activity, and documenting those processes.

When you think about it, our efforts in these areas will make our enterprise more durable and resilient. These are good things for everyone.

The first steps in the scalability project:

1. Hire an understudy for Larry, to work in client logistics (forms, paperwork, and organization). This will happen soon.
2. Develop a custom operating system for the business. Portfolio analytics, our longevity-driven fee administration, task management and client contact records will ultimately all be in a single system. This is in development, and will probably take many months to complete.
3. Hire an understudy for Greg, to work in research and trading. This will be a longer-term project.

Of course, we all pitch in on many different activities as needed to meet your needs. Clients, if you have questions about this or anything else, please email us or call.

Our Success Will Never Hurt You

© Can Stock Photo / Cebas

I never aimed to build an empire, or hire an army of people to run it. From a very young age in business, all I wanted to do was find a group of clients who, if we took care of them, would take care of us. Little did I know how gratifying this outcome would be, or how close our relationships would become!

But nothing succeeds like success. It turns out many of you believe we are good at what we do: understanding your life and goals, framing issues so you can make good decisions, and managing your money effectively in a way that coordinates with your life.

Our communications are simple, accessible to almost anyone who can read. Our stories and essays and parables get shared to friends of our friends, and their friends. You recommend our services when you believe it would be a favor to someone close to you. So growth is inevitably happening, even though we devote all of our thoughts and efforts to growing your buckets and communicating with you—not looking for more buckets.

Consultants advise us to ‘segment’ our client group into A, B, and C clients. This is typically based on economics: big accounts are A, little accounts are C. The advice is to get rid of C clients, move B clients to a junior partner, and concentrate on A clients. Of course, being contrarian, this conventional wisdom has never made sense to us. It never seemed right. More than one of you came to us after getting demoted in this way by some hotshot.

For a long time we’ve been able to say, all of our clients are first class. Increasing efficiencies and improvements to our systems and processes and delegation of administrative duties helped us keep this true.

Between the wide reach of new media and unsolicited referrals, one thing—my time—will come into play as a limiting factor. But we have a thoughtful plan, and I think you will like it.

All the way back to the 1970’s, when you went to Kentucky Fried Chicken, Col. Sanders was not back in the kitchen at the fryer. His recipe was there, his methods were there, his image was there. But associates were doing the work. If our growth continues, as seems likely, new clients—not you—will get the Col. Sanders version.

You folks with whom I have a personal relationship, who value our work and depend on it, you will always have access to me to help with your plans and planning. This is why we say our success will never hurt you. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email or call us.
 


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

122 Out of 7 Billion

© Can Stock Photo / thesupe87

Of the seven billion people on the planet, more than three billion have access to the internet—including 286 million in the United States1. Any of these millions and billions may read our work and our thoughts here at 228Main.com, no cost.

The funny thing is, we started out writing with a specific audience of 122 households in mind. These are the people who trust us to manage their portfolios and help them frame their financial issues. We began writing these articles to improve our ability to communicate with and serve 122 of you, our existing core clients.

It turns out that there is a pleasant side effect to this process. We find that making it easier to connect with you has improved our capacity. We used to think that the 122 households were about our limit for how many we could take on without compromising service. But as our operations grow more effective, we believe we have been able to deliver better and better service. We now believe we may have room to grow to 160 client households.

We don’t know who will wind up filling our excess capacity, where they live, or what their circumstances are. But we do know a few things about them already.

They will have effective attitudes about investing, or be willing to learn them. In other words, they will fit into our niche market of the mind. They will have a few hundred thousand dollars available for long-term investing, or more. They will understand that we put all of our efforts into trying to grow the buckets and communicating with clients, instead of spending some of our time organizing wine tastings or delivering smoked turkeys or chasing prospects around.

We have long thought we have all the business we need. We do not know what the future holds, though, and the regulatory environment is constantly changing. We do not always believe in the conventional textbook wisdom. Regulations based on the textbook approach may potentially make business more difficult for those of us who would rather try something different. The increased scale afforded by our newfound capacity might be helpful in handling regulatory compliance down the road.

Our work for our core clients is extremely gratifying. If you are one, thank you for the opportunity to serve you. If you may be one of the thirty-eight future clients, please soak up all you can here at http://www.228Main.com. Feel free to get in touch with us via phone or e-mail. And for the rest of the millions and billions, we’re glad you are here, too—you are welcome to eavesdrop while we talk to our clients.

1Data from http://www.internetlivestats.com


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.