I moved to New York City with the intention of building my own wealth management firm. While I possessed a hazy roadmap for how to make that happen, bringing in clients was the simplest and hardest thing I knew I’d have to do. Most entrepreneurs face the fact that whether you’re selling goods or services, you’re in the business of generating revenue. If you can’t transact, the business dies. It’s a brutal but simple way of putting it.
Building a business is a nerve-wracking endeavor. Most people are not cut out for that kind of pressure. I can’t blame them. From time to time, I question if I am (and then yell at myself). Entrepreneurship requires betting on yourself over long periods, which is difficult to do, because no matter how mentally fit you are, it will mess with your head. The internal questions never end: Can you do it? Will you make it? When will it happen? What if it doesn’t? But if you can see beyond all that, build a pipeline, and get business to flow, you’ll be on your way. That’s the idea, anyway.
It took me nearly a decade to build my pipes. I was in nonstop growth mode, working every different angle to develop business: I went to business school to expand my centers of influence; wrote a book about millennials and their money; started writing weekly; dove headfirst into SEO marketing; developed a voice in financial media; and built my own social media presence. I had to leave my former partner’s firm to align my own brand with my target demographic.
You could say it’s worked out. By constructing the pipeline through which my business still grows, I was able to pivot marketing efforts into client service efforts as a steady flow of prospects converted to clients. Growing in tandem with my business, however, is my family. I have two young kids with their own competing needs for my time. Between supporting their growth and the growth of the business, time quickly vanishes.
As a business owner, I know this is a good problem to have. But even good problems need to be solved before they turn sour. Growth is not the only thing that matters any more. After spending years in the trenches fixated on this singular goal, I never really had other hands to play. Now that I do, which cards do I flip over? After the pipes are built, when do you pause to ask harder questions? How do you transition from adding bulk to the business to sculpting it?
Deeper yet, what do I really want this business to be?
Scaling is one option, but it’s not the only option. Until now, I rarely stopped to consider the intentionality behind my development decisions and their future impact on the business. I originally brought my wife, Heather, into the firm to help diversify our revenue by booking more speaking engagements, developing greater corporate partnerships, and expanding my role as a thought leader and content creator. But now that she’s here, we see many ways to improve the inside of the business, too. We can create better operational efficiencies and dive deeper into client service. Both directions have merit, and we’ll probably do them both.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in building a business is that growth is dynamic, taking on different forms at different times in its evolution. What I needed in the beginning was very straightforward: bring in the business or be out of business. But today, growth is defined by so much more.
Likes (Financial Literacy Month Edition)
More Than Money - My friends and award-winning colleagues, Taylor Schulte and Justin Castelli, gathered real-life stories from our other friends and award-winning colleagues to create a fantastic book that showcases the impact, importance, and art of financial planning. It’s a refreshing look into how financial planners truly help individuals navigate their lives and achieve their goals. BUY IT!
How to Get Rich - Ramit Sethi, the acclaimed author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, just released his new show on Netflix. I’ve had to chance to work with Ramit in the past, and his approach to personal finance is highly approachable and effective. Wishing you all the success in the world, my dude!
This is the Top is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Nice post Doug! I've seen your posts on Twitter before, but didn't know that you had a Substack. I guess that means that your meme pipeline is indeed working. Cheers!
Love this, Doug! Your question of what you really want your business to be, especially in light of young children rings true as I find myself wrestling with similar questions. I appreciate you writing about this and look forward to seeing how you and Heather navigate this!