Leveraging Your Experience as a Business Owner to Help Business-minded Clients

What’s the best way to offer financial advice to business-minded clients? For starters, it helps to be clear on what it means to be a business owner yourself. Today’s guest has taken serious steps to develop himself as an entrepreneur, which helps him work with his own clients, most of whom are business owners. 

Dustin Serviss of Serviss Wealth Management has been featured as the number 1 Top 40 Under 40 leader in 2014 by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, Serviss Wealth Management was awarded the Top 10 Wealth Builder Award by its previous investment dealer (consisting of over 800 advisors). Serviss Wealth Management was also voted one of the Top 3 Micro Businesses in Kelowna by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce in 2018.

Listen in to hear how Dustin helps business owners manage their wealth – and their businesses. 

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  • Dustin went from day trading as an engineer to running a successful practice (4:10)
  • Dustin’s unique approach to leadership (11:25)
  • Three lessons learned from working with a business consultant (20:20)
  • How Dustin leverages what he learns from his clients to offer even more value through consulting (28:15)
  • Why ongoing learning is critical to business success (33:35)
  • Overcoming the grind of the first few years in business (36:35) 

Links and Resources: 

Serviss Wealth Management 

Quotes by Dustin Serviss:  

“Now when we are going and talking to clients, we are talking on a level that is business-minded first, financial planning second.” 

“When you’re exposed to bigger stuff you realize that other people think differently than you do.”

“As entrepreneurs, we have a lot of good ideas and we have even more great ideas… And before you know it, you’ve got so many things to do, so many processes, so many touchpoints, so many this, so many that.”

Serving business owners and lawyers, Serviss Wealth Management is a powerhouse of an independent financial planning firm. Acting as the quarterback (as he puts it) for his clients’ financial affairs, and taking his own entrepreneurship very seriously, Dustin has a lot to share about the business side of financial planning.

Below, we’re sharing three key ideas from this episode:

  • Three lessons learned from working with a business consultant
  • Dustin’s unique approach to leadership
  • Why ongoing learning is critical to business success

Three lessons learned from working with a business consultant

Two years ago, Dustin decided that he wanted to rewrite his business plan. And he certainly didn’t do it half way.

Instead, he hired a consultant, James, to work with him over the course of an entire year. Together, they looked at all aspects of the business and decided on a new path forward. Read on for Dustin’s three main takeaways.

Hint: For more on the importance of having a business plan, listen to our episode with Chris Paterson on the major drivers of advisors’ business growth.

The importance of professional help

All advisors know the importance of a talented professional who can help challenge clients and help them reach their goals. And that’s not just true for clients in need of financial services.

Dustin half jokes that every business owner should work with two professionals: a therapist and a business consultant. And in essence, the two are similar. There are very few people whom you can count on to ask the hard questions and help you overcome your ego.

This is critical in both the personal and professional spheres. Dustin recommends finding a professional (or two) to help you challenge your beliefs and get you out of your comfort zone.

A clear understanding of what it means to run a business

Since Dustin works primarily with business owners, getting a clearer sense of what it means to be a business owner himself was invaluable. Now, he can work with his clients confident in his own approach and skills as an entrepreneur.

As he puts it, “now when we are going and talking to clients, we are talking on a level that is business-minded first, financial planning second.”

The importance of shedding

Entrepreneurs tend to have a lot of ideas, and they’re all great (or at least that’s what we like to believe). It’s so easy to add great ideas on top of one another, layering on and layering on.

The problem, as Dustin puts it, is that “before you know it, you’ve got so many things to do, so many processes, so many touchpoints, so many this, so many that. It’s so hard to train new staff, it’s so hard to keep going myself.”

James helped Dustin cut the baggage – so much that it was a bit scary to Dustin. But by asking what clients actually value in the relationship, they were able to shift the focus to the important things and shed the rest.

Hint: If you’re curious, the lesson was that Dustin’s clients didn’t care so much about all the checking in and the birthday cards – and maybe this is true for your clients, too. Instead, they just wanted timely and satisfying responses to their questions. As a result, Dustin and his team focus on getting back to people within 24 hours whenever possible.

Dustin’s unique approach to leadership

Dustin’s approach to leading is all about transparency – probably more than what many leaders would be comfortable with.

For over five years now, he has shared all the numbers of his business with his staff. They know how much each revenue source brings in, what the expenses are – everything.

When Dustin hired James to help him with the business plan, the whole office got involved. James would come into the office for a couple hours every two weeks to discuss different aspects of the business with everyone on the team.

Dustin believes this is important because it allows his staff to help make decisions and drive the company culture. Having them involved in the process means that everyone feels that they have ownership – each one of them, after all, is a stakeholder in the business.

Why ongoing learning is critical to business success

Dustin attributes his success in the industry to two things, and they both show how invested he is in learning:

  1. Dustin has a lot of letters behind his name, spelling out five designations. He believed from the beginning that the more designations he had, the more marketable he would be. He now attributes much of the growth in his career to the designations he earned early on.
  2. Dustin is grateful for the two mentors he worked with, both about 10 years ahead of him in the business. You don’t know what you don’t know, and at the beginning, there’s a lot you can’t know about advising or running a business. His mentors exposed him to situations he never would have imagined possible and allowed him to overcome his own restrictions to see things from clients’ points of view, not just his own.

Whether it’s through a set curriculum or from experts in the field, Dustin’s dedication to learning what he could from others early in his career set him up for success later on.

For more advice from Dustin, listen to the full episode where he shares how he manages the different aspects of his business, how he offers even more value through a consulting service, and more. You can find the show right here on this page or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher so you don’t miss any episodes. 

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