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Lessons on My First Anniversary

It was just over a year ago I launched my own firm.  Indulge me while I share some lessons learned.

  • Not all potential clients are good clients. I recently had a conversation with someone who would have been my largest client by asset size.  By the end of the conversation I realized we should not work together and told him so.  Most advisors would have looked at this person as “how much revenue will he generate.”  Fortunately, I have the flexibility to accept people who excite me, really want my help and I know I can help them.
  • I get lost in time. On days when I do not have a lot of meetings I lose track of time.  All of a sudden I realize I have been sitting at my desk for a couple of hours and this is not a good thing.  I recently bought a kitchen timer and will set it to go off every 30 minutes.  I will let you know how it goes.
  • Patience and the long game. For the first few months I had no new clients.  I started to panic and reminded myself this is like investing as it is a marathon and not a sprint.  I had to remind myself of the process, that I am basically a tortoise right now especially with a fee model almost no one has ever seen, and that in the long run it will work out, which it has.  Now I have had to institute a cap on how many new clients I will take on monthly so I can properly serve existing clients.  Amazing what changes in a few months.
  • Control equals wealth for me. I now control my schedule completely.  I only take meetings I want to.  If my kids have something going on I make time for it on my schedule.  If a potential client wants to meet on a weekend the answer is No as that is personal time.  It amazes me how much value I place on this control.  It also shocks me how much control I lacked before.
  • A good website is worth its weight in gold. I used to fight all the time at my old firm to have a good website.   In my world a website is the first impression.  Mine is designed to tell about me, my process, me fees, and who I work with.  It is designed to reflect my personality and I lay it all out there.  It is also designed to let visitors decide if they think it is worth a formal conversation.   Basically, I let visitors qualify or disqualify themselves.  Oh, and someone told me I am still listed on the website of my former firm.
  • I get to be me. Most days I wear jeans, a sweatshirt and my slippers.  If I am meeting a client I will throw some casual pants and a shirt on, while the suits and ties hang in the back of the closet.  If I am not comfortably dressed I don’t feel comfortable in a client meeting.
  • Have the right support system. There is no way I could have pulled this off without Jen and the boys.  The list is too long to share, however, it ranges from mental to emotional support to even having the boys give their opinions on items from my writing to use of social media.  While I may be a solo practitioner I am not without a team.

About Dan Johnson, CFP

I am the President and CCO of Forward Thinking Wealth Management, LLC, which is the flat-fee financial planning firm located in Akron, OH, and set up to work virtually with clients across the country. I charge clients a flat fee of $4,800 regardless of asset size. My firm is a solution to what I feel is a broken system where clients pay advisors based on something out of their control - the performance of the market.
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