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Here’s a story worth hearing

A couple weeks ago I saw a story on Business Insider that hooked me.

“My wife and I never discussed money before marriage – and ended up with $52,000 of debt” was the title.

I clicked through and read the story, about a guy named Deacon Hayes.

Deacon is a former wood flooring salesman but now has a popular personal finance blog called Well Kept Wallet.

The story was fascinating.

I wanted to know more.

So I found Deacon’s website and emailed him.

I asked if I could interview him and share his story with my email newsletter.

Lo and behold, he said yes.

I’m sharing Deacon’s story with my newsletter subscribers today. If you’re not yet on that list, SIGN UP HERE.

The beauty of the internet is that we’re all just people behind these screens.

What that means is I don’t have to wait on someone else to write more about Deacon’s story (or anyone else’s) if I want to know more. I can email the guy and ask him to share.

And because he’s a generous guy, I get to share more of his story with you.

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I’m done setting appointments the old-fashioned way

Being in business for myself has many perks.

I can leave early to take the kids to their afternoon activities.

I can watch Key and Peele clips without worrying if the IT Department is going to turn me in.

And here’s one of the best…

I can use any kind of technology I want.

When you work for someone else, you use the stuff they say you can use.

But now, I’m discovering all sorts of apps and tools to make life exponentially easier.

My favorite app I’m using right now is one I wish I’d discovered years ago.

See, for years I’ve been setting up meetings with people.

And you know how that goes…

Me: “We should probably get together to discuss your situation. How about Tuesday or Thursday next week?

Them: “No, I can’t do Tuesday or Thursday. I can do Wednesday. How about that?”

Me: “No, I can’t do Wednesday. What about Friday?”

Them: “No, I get my hair done on Friday.”

Me: “So you can’t talk to me for 30 minutes Friday afternoon?”

Them: “No. What about the following week?”

And on and on it goes.

I spend more time trying to nail down the actual meeting time than I do in the meeting itself.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to fix that?

Wouldn’t it be great if I could just show them all the times I’m available and they could sign up for a time to meet?

Hell yeah, it would.

Well listen up…

I found it.

Evidently I’m not the only person who’s tired of playing the “When can you meet?” game. And luckily for the rest of us, some of the other people who got tired of playing that game are smart, computer-y type people.

These smart, computer-y types came up with an entire genre of web software for us…the appointment scheduling app.

There’s a bunch of these apps out there. If you want to check ’em out, here are a few:

I poked around the descriptions of a few and settled on Setmore.

Why Setmore?

Setmore would do everything I need right now in its free version.

Let’s take a look at what Setmore can do:

Here’s their front page. A couple things to note are that it’s a nice looking app (not true for all of them) and there’s a mobile app so you can schedule and keep tabs on appointments remotely.

Screenshot 2016-02-23 14.31.37

Next is my main calendar page…

I flipped it to next week and stripped a few items out for the screen shot. What you’ll see is you get a weekly view (configurable to other views).

Screenshot 2016-02-23 14.35.34

 

 

 

 

To get started, you’re gonna want to set your Business Hours. This is how you begin to show the calendar when you’re available and when you’re not. Setmore will gray out all the times you’re not available.
Screenshot 2016-02-23 14.36.05

You’ll also need to set up the Services you offer. If you were using this personally rather than for business, you could set up one service called “Hangout” or something that would cover everything.

For someone who owned a salon, this is where they would set up things like “Haircut” and “Hair Color” and “Manicure.”

The trick is to remember the customer is the person interacting with these Services, so set them up in a way that your customer doesn’t get confused.

A CPA might call a quick tax prep meeting a “Speedy Review” but if the CPA also lists a service called “Quick Return” it might cause trouble for everyone.

You can see in my screenshot below that I’ve got three services listed: Coaching Session, First Meeting, and Social. I need to fix those because I don’t think anyone would know what the hell they’re signing up for with me other than a social call.

Screenshot 2016-02-23 14.36.59Another great feature I love about Setmore is it keeps everyone in the loop about when an appointment is scheduled and when it’s about to happen.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had someone stand me up for an appointment only to call them and have them say, “I totally forgot!”

With Setmore, you can set the program to send appointment reminders by email and text. (Text is a premium feature.) The “I totally forgot!” excuse won’t work anymore.

Screenshot 2016-02-23 14.37.30

Here’s a shot of what the reminder email looks like:

Screenshot 2016-02-23 14.38.46

Pretty nice, right?

So that’s a quick look at some of the features of Setmore.

Now let me tell you how I’ve been using it.

For the past few weeks I’ve been setting up calls and appointments with people.

When we get to the part about, “So when do you want to get together?”…it gets really easy.

I send them a customized link that takes them straight to my calendar and they pick the time they want to talk.

When they book it, I get an email notification and a smile on my face. Simple as that.

And people seem to like it. Here’s what one guy said after he booked a call through my Setmore link:

“I love that! SO much easier than the typical back-and-forth 300 emails trying to find a mutually-available time to get on a call or join a meeting.”

So let me ask you…

Do you use something like this?

If so, what do you like about it / how has it changed the way you work?

If not, could you see yourself using an app like this?

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A remedy for stress delivered by my friend the gardener

I couldn’t wait.

I told you in yesterday’s post that on Thursday morning I was going to email my list for help naming my business.

This one task is eating up so much mental space that I couldn’t wait…I sent the email out this afternoon.

And now that that’s done, I can move on to the next thing.

Speaking of the next thing…

Do you ever find yourself getting overwhelmed by your to-do list or by all your responsibilities or by adulting in general?

I sure as heck do.

I was talking with a friend a couple weeks ago and he gave me great advice…advice that’s helping me stay cool and collected right now.

My friend is a gardener. He said he’s learned that gardening is a process that unfolds over time. You don’t start one day and have a garden the next.

The soil needs prep work. You’ve gotta dig the holes and plant seeds. You’ve gotta water everything and keep weeds and pests out.

In other words, you can’t do it all at once.

How does he approach his work in his garden?

“Just do the next thing,” he said.

Don’t worry about doing it all. Don’t worry about how to do it all. Don’t worry about how it’s going to turn out.

Just do the next thing.

After that, do the next thing.

Great advice. Thanks for that one, Andrew.

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Let’s name this sucka

Can I get your input?

We’re at the point where we need to pick a name for this new business.

Will you help me pick a name?

I’m going to share a few ideas I’ve had and I want to see if you’re feeling any of these.

But there’s a catch…

There’s always a catch, right?

The catch is, I’m gonna share my ideas in an email. So if you’re not already signed up for my email list, now’s the time.

Here’s an easy way to get on the list:

CLICK HERE TO JOIN MY EMAIL LIST

I’ll send the email on Thursday morning, so go ahead and jump on the email list!

Thanks!

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Current status: wanting someone to do everything for me

I’m just gonna be straight with you.

My desire to get stuff done today has been like this:

Screenshot 2016-02-11 16.00.44Feelin’ sluggish.

Lookin’ around at the piles of things on my desk and the lists of things to do and uuuugggghhhh…

You know what I mean?

Nevertheless, I’ve worked my way through a few things and made some tangible progress on the biz.

Specifically, I had another in-depth chat with someone about how he makes financial decisions, what his priorities are, and exactly what he needs in order to reach his goals.

It was extremely valuable to me, and I’m telling you…I’m finding more and more people who have a lot in common when it comes to what they want to accomplish, how they make decisions, and what would help them feel better about the progress they’re making.

Interesting times.

But we’ve also gotta do the nitty gritty work of putting all the pieces in place. Working through the checklist.

I’ll hit that tomorrow.

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Would you call this progress?

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I found a handy checklist for starting a registered investment advisory (RIA) business.

Here’s the list:

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.20.21For the sake of measuring progress, today I’m going to go through the list item-by-item and tell you what progress I’ve made.

Does that work for you?

Cool.

Okay, let’s do this…

Develop your firm’s business plan: identify niche, value proposition, target market, and key spheres of influence.

I’d say this is like 40% done. I know generally what my niche is going to be. The value proposition part is a little squishy right now. That’s why I’m talking to as many of you as I can to see how you think about things. The target market is crystal clear: family-oriented career types in their thirties and forties. Spheres of influence? I’m not sure about that one yet. If you’re a sphere, hit me up.

Choose your firm’s business entity type (limited liability corporation, s-corporation, etc.) and business name.

Business entity type is pretty straightforward. I’ll have an LLC. The business name is to be determined. I’d love your input…either on the name or how to generate a great business name.

If all else fails, I can just hit the Hipster Business Name Generator…it spit out this beauty for me:
Screenshot 2016-02-10 15.46.30Temper & Hen doesn’t make a lick of sense as a name for a financial advice business, but what’s more hipster than that?

Assess your regulatory assets under management (AUM) and the states in which your firm will be conducting business.

Done this.

Word to the wise, it’s not a good idea to offer to assess someone else’s regulatory assets. I almost got my front teeth knocked out.

Engage a compliance expert to assist with the intricacies of creating the required documents and navigating the registration process.

I haven’t done anything on this.

Take the Series 65 exam if necessary.

Bagged it. Tagged it. Sold it to the butcher at the store.

Select the custodian(s) that best serve your firm’s clients.

I know where the vast majority of accounts will be housed, but I still need to find a backup for clients whose needs are a little more complex.

Implement technology systems including customer relationship management (CRM), reporting, billing, archiving, etc.

Nah…haven’t really done any of this yet.

Create initial marketing materials including a logo, website, business cards, letterhead, etc.

I haven’t done any of this either. That’s primarily because I don’t really have a solid name picked out for the biz yet. As soon as I land on something I like, I can start lining up the marketing stuff.

Obtain business, errors and omissions, and cybersecurity insurance.

Nerp. Haven’t done this.

Establish a compliance program including a policies and procedures manual, a Code of Ethics, and the proper books and records.

I haven’t done any of this.

So that’s where I am right now.

As you can seem there’s a lot that I haven’t made any progress on.

But I’m not really sweating it. A lot of the stuff with no progress is the stuff that a turnkey “get you up and running” place takes care of. As soon as I engage a “get you up and running” place, more things will start to fall into place.

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The checklist I’ll be using to start my business

Let’s say you want to start a business helping people make smart decisions with their hard-earned money.

How would you go about doing that?

Would you simply start a blog or publish an email newsletter or book?

Would you start a podcast and shares your ideas there?

Would you get a license and become an broker or insurance agent?

Would you get a license and charge a fee to provide investment advice?

There are so many options!

And they all have pros and cons.

What I’m doing is setting up what’s called a registered investment advisory (RIA) business.

That’s a mouthful-and-a-half, right?

Here’s what that is, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission:

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.30.44

 

 

 

 

What’s interesting about becoming an investment adviser is that it’s relatively easy.

I took the Series 65 exam and now I have to set up the actual business itself.

So where do you start if you want to do something like this?

The same place you start everything else: Google.

A few years ago, I was studying up on this topic and Google pointed me toward a company called RIA In A Box. They help start-from-scratchers do all the paperwork and file all the stuff with the regulators to get a business up and running.

It’s a turnkey plan. You give them information and money, they do all the work.

I’m telling you all this for two reasons:

  1. It’s cool there are places like RIA In A Box that will do stuff like that
  2. They share free info for people who are mulling over starting their own RIA

Thanks to RIA In A Box, I found this checklist of steps to start an RIA firm:

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.20.21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See? It’s actually not very hard to open an RIA. It’s just a matter of working through a series of steps.

If you were to ask how far along I think I am on this list, I’d put it this way…I’m off to a good start but I still have a lot of work to do.

Tomorrow I’ll go item by item on the list and talk about the progress I’ve made.

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Will this work?

I told you I’m spending the month of February blogging through the process of starting a business from scratch.

One of the things I’ve got to figure out is if my idea has any legs.

I think there’s a fancy name for that…it’s called “validating the concept” or something.

Anyway, the premise is…take some time to see if there’s a market for what you’re gonna do before you dump a bunch of time, money and energy into it.

So, let’s say we want to validate our concept. How do we do that?

I’m just gonna be straight with you and say I’m not 100% sure.

How about I tell you what I do know?

Last year I polled a few people to get some feedback about how other families in roughly the same stage of life (youngish kids, growing in their careers, involved in their churches and communities, etc.) felt about their personal finances.

What I found was most of the people I talked to felt stressed out, confused, or frustrated.

The general consensus was everyone knows what they should be doing, it’s just actually doing it that’s really hard.

On Wednesday night I took a deeper dive with a friend. He let me ask any question I wanted about how he gets financial advice, about what his biggest frustrations are, and about his experience handling his family’s money.

The results of our conversation told me that all the stuff I’ve had on my mind about creating a better way for our families to get financial advice and to reach our goals…it has legs.

If you’d be willing to let me ask you a few questions via Skype (or in person if you’re local) just say “I’ll help!” in the comments.

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This four-step system changed the way I think about goals

In my last post I asked you about goals.

I’m curious.

How do you set financial goals?

I asked that question (and I’m still eager to hear your answer!) because I know every family is different.

I confessed that we’re a little loosey-goosey at our house.

Sometimes we have a good process, other times we don’t.

Today I want to share something I learned about goals.

I heard this on the You Need A Budget podcast a few weeks ago.

Don’t let the title scare you…

Even though “You need a budget!” sounds like something your dad would say, they have a really helpful podcast and a nifty budgeting tool.

You can check out YNAB here or listen to the podcast episode “The Four Disciplines of Execution.”

Aaaaaaannnyyyyhooooo…the thing about goals.

So on the YNAB podcast they were talking about having a goal-setting process.

It’s a simple, four-step process. Turns out there’s no need to junk up whatever you’re trying to do with a big, elaborate plan.

Here’s the four step plan…

Focus on one big goal

Pick one thing. Don’t pick five things, pick one thing.

I always chuckle when I hear the word “focus” because a long time ago I worked at a huge bank and they used to have these weekly conference calls to browbeat everyone to sell stuff.

“Don’t forget! We’re focusing on checking accounts, cross-sell, online banking, investment referrals, and HELOCs this week,” they’d say.

Focusing on five things?

It was confusing because I always thought focus meant concentrating on ONE thing.

By the way, can you guess how successful we were at crushing our goals in all the things we were supposed to be focusing on?

If you said, “Not very”…give yourself ten points.

So pick ONE thing to focus on.

Pick leading indicators

After you pick your goal, select indicators that are predictive of success in that realm.

For example, if your goal is to have stronger arms, doing a set number of pull-ups each day is predictive of reaching your goal. The number of pull-ups you’re doing is a “leading indicator” of your success.

Keep score

Once you have one big thing to focus on and you’ve picked leading indicators, the next thing to do is track your progress.

What that means is, write down the number of pull-ups you actually did each day.

If you pick a leading indicator but don’t track it, it’s hard to know if what you’re doing is working.

Create accountability

The final piece of the goal-setting puzzle is accountability.

What “accountability” means is having someone you can report your results to on a regular basis.

It’s human nature to stay on track if we know someone has expectations for us.

If someone is expecting you to stick to your plan, you’ll be less likely to fudge.

How about that?

A simple, four-step plan for setting and achieving goals.

Here’s how this plan worked for me recently…

Right when I heard this YNAB podcast, I was preparing to take the Series 65 exam.

If you’re not familiar, the Series 65 is a big bad securities law exam that – if you pass it – lets you set up shop as a registered investment adviser.

I had a study book so thick I thought it was a Manhattan phone book when I first saw it.

But I wanted to get the exam behind me sooner than later, so I used this four-step plan to set a goal to pass the exam.

Focusing on one big goal was easy: pass the Series 65.

Picking leading indicators was pretty easy, too. I divided the study book up into sections and assigned every section to its own day in my calendar. I assumed studying the book would be predictive of success on the exam.

To keep score, I did two things. First, I logged my scores on the practice tests in each chapter. Second, I logged the date I finished each section.

And finally, I made a plan for accountability. I sent Mary Craig and my friend Colin the study schedule and emailed them every time I finished a section.

See?

Screenshot 2016-02-04 14.50.51

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And guess what?

It worked!

I passed the exam last week.

This four-step system is super-easy and can be applied to almost any goal, whether it’s a personal goal or a business goal.

Is this something you can see yourself using next time you have something you want to accomplish?

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Can you answer this super-simple question?

Today I just have a simple question.

And just to be clear, this is a poll question…not a “make you feel guilty”question.

You know the difference, right?

A poll question is like, “If the election were held today, would you vote for Jerry Seinfeld or George Costanza?”

A “make you feel guilty question” is like, “How productive have you been today?”

See the difference?

The “make you feel guilty question” is gonna make you think, “I’ve done okay, but gosh…now that I think about it I’ve taken three Buzzfeed quizzes today and I’ve been texting with four different friends.”

The poll question, on the other hand, is just trying to get information. There’s no right or wrong answer.

I’m trying to poll you, not make you feel guilty.

That’s a big setup for something that really isn’t a big deal, but I want to make sure you’re not afraid to answer because you think there’s some elusive “right answer” that I’m looking for. I’m not.

Okay, let’s get to it.

The question I want to ask is…

How do you set financial goals?

That’s it.

Here’s why I’m asking…

I know how we set financial goals at our house, but I know it’s probably not the same way you set goals at your house.

And actually, truth be told, the way we set goals can sometimes be, “Oh shit! We need to set save some money for vacation this summer!” or, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a little condo at the beach someday?”

In other words, our current system can be a little loosey-goosey.

So that’s it…

How do you set financial goals?

Answer any way you like. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. I just want to hear what you do.

If you don’t want to share in the comments, I made a form you can drop your answer into…just click here.

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