June 22, 2012

Job to Practice – Part II: Myths about setting up your own practice

Sadique Neelgund

Over the years of running my own practice, it amazes me to find that investors continue to buy insurance policies with the primary objective of saving tax and investing in stocks to make a quick buck. This is in spite of the fact that there has been a drive now for a decade wherein financial advisors, columnists and personal finance commentators have tried to educate investors on the importance of buying insurance to protect their family and invest in stocks for the long term.

In much the same way, I keep hearing from my friends about how lucky I am to be running my own practice and why they also want to set up their own practice some day soon. When I ask them why they want to set up their own practice, I normally advise them to stay in their jobs.

Here’s why I tell them to stay in their jobs – what I call the 5 myths of setting up a practice.

If I provide great advice, clients will flock to me

I’m sure a lot of you are great fans of Aamir Khan and Satyamev Jayate. I definitely am. However, in spite of the pertinent social issues that each episode raises and the huge fan following that Aamir Khan has built over the years, he is on television, radio and in the print media aggressively promoting each episode. If Aamir Khan needs to break through the clutter so aggressively, I don’t think you and me have a choice.

Thus, in spite of your great advice, you have no option but to promote your practice, your services and yourself. Remember, there are very few advisors out there and the whole world is your potential client. Unfortunately, you still have to  make great efforts for them to find you or you to find them.

My job is to provide great advice

When I set up my practice, I believed that my practice was all about providing the highest quality advice. An abnormal amount of effort went into ensuring that I provided the best advice that I possibly could. However, over the years I have realized that “high quality advice” in the eye of the client is more than just the advice that you give them on their goals and their portfolio.

It is also about the phone calls that you return without fail, the quality of the reports that you provide, the ease with which you allow him to execute transactions, the constant engagement model that you run with your clients and the quality of interaction that he has with your team. A significant amount of your effort needs to make everything around your practice better, not just the quality of the advice.

Since I have worked with a particular kind of client , I only want to work with a particular kind of client

Whilst there is great merit in having a clear target market and focusing on acquiring clients from that target market, the need to have an open mind is critical for anyone who is setting up a new practice as well. Having an established brand behind you when you worked for a bank or a large financial institution many a time opens doors for you, which your own practice may not open.

Thus, you may need to change the type of client you work with when you set up your own practice. Keep your mind open to the opportunities in other segments of the market –  you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. You need to live out of your imagination, not out of your memory.

You are your own boss

This is probably the biggest myth about setting up your own practice. In the corporate world, most people tend to have one or two bosses. In my practice, I find that I have more bosses now than I had in my entire corporate career put together – multiple clients who boss over me and tell me what they want and by when they want it, regulatory agencies that boss over me about how and why I should run my practice in a particular way, my employees who boss over me about what they will do and what they will not as a part of their job, and of course, my dearest boss Sadique who will set a deadline on when this article should reach him.

Nevertheless, I have never been enjoyed getting bossed over as much as I do in my own practice. The only thing that I never tell anyone is, I am my own boss.

Own practice means greater flexibility

One of the most inspiring quotes I have read about entrepreneurship and setting up one’s own practice is “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” So far, this has also been the most untrue for me. I find that I work in my business in the day and dream about it in the night.

Ultimately, if you are going to have the most accountability, you are probably going to have the least flexibility. When you set up your own practice, it is often about keeping your head above water. And I can assure you, its very hard to be flexible when you are saving yourself from drowning at the same time. Of course, I have the flexibility of making lesser powerpoint presentations 🙂

I remember reading somewhere – Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.


Authored by,

Vishal Dhawan

Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors Pvt Ltd

5 Thoughts to “Job to Practice – Part II: Myths about setting up your own practice”

  1. abhinav0115 says:

    Hi Vishal

    Thanks for another exciting post…The points you have said hold a lot of value. Entrepreneurship is not as rosier as it is thought to be. An entrepreneur has to wear so many different hats and has to take split second decisions which can go this way or that way….so it can be many times more stressing than a corporate job. Also the points you made about how much the things around the advice are important, and about the flexibility are very pertinent…

    I think its important to realize that no matter how successful a person is in his corporate set-up, he/she cannot rest at that…there is a very steep learning curve that has to be gone through being an entrepreneur and one has to be prepared for it….sometimes being aware of pitfalls and getting prepared for the worst makes the journey easy…and this post can really help in that:)

    Thanks again and look forward to more.

    • Hi Abhinav,

      Yu have raised an extremely crucial point around decision making for entrepreneurs – I think its a key difference between a corporate career where a lot of decisions are taken by consensus against decisions that are taken rather quickly by an entrepreneur because he is always in a hurry to move on.

  2. Chenthil Iyer says:

    With all due respect, except for the 3rd point, I beg to have a slight disagreement on all the other points. Let me take it one by one:
    If I provide the right advice, the clients would flock to me :

    Why is this a myth, given that mouth publicity is the single largest source of clients for all professional practices such as doctors, lawyers, CAs etc.. It may take some time, but I guess the highest quality clients come from this source.

    My job is to provide great advice:

    Why Not? The additional effort is in terms of educating the client about why you have given a particular suggestion. Though most people give additional weightage to returning phone calls, giving timely reports etc. the real value addition comes from great planning and implementation. These finer aspects do reflect your professionalism but the foundation is in giving great advice and patient education.

    You are your own boss: On a lighter vein I do agree that the clients, Sadique, my wife, regulatory agencies etc do have some influence over me, but those dont qualify to be my boss. What people dislike is being bossed around without a purpose. Some clients do tend to do that, and we definitely have to either tactfully make them understand this fact or be willing to leave them alone. So this also doesn’t qualify to be a ‘myth’

    Own practice means greater flexibility: Again, Why Not? I agree that flexibility should not be misused, but the flexibility to enjoy adequate time with the family, flexibility to attend to ailing parents, flexibility to go on vacations in the off peak seasons without the clutter of too many people are all the blessings of our profession. In short flexibility means having the choice. When and how much the choice needs to be exercised is a matter of personal discretion. A job definitely does not offer these flexibilities where your boss decides almost everything. A dear friend of mine could not come to see his new born baby for 3 months just because his boss was not letting him go! I dont think I would do such a thing just because my clients are expecting an important report!!

    I appreciate your effort and if the message is NOT to OVERLEVERAGE these advantages of starting a practice, I am with you but they certainly are not myths..

    • Dear Chenthil,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your perspective. I do believe that the main reason for wanting to set up your own practice needs to come from a strong desire to do whatever is right for your customer period, with the other reasons that were mentioned being important but not the reason to set up your practice. Unfortunately, many a time I hear these as the reason for the setting up your own practice, which is the myths I was trying to dispel.

  3. Chenthil Iyer says:

    Thanks Vishal for reading my post patiently. However, there would be hardly anyone who is so noble as to get into practice with the sole intention of giving the right advice to people. May be you have that perspective. Some one else may get into it with the intention of being his own boss, another one might come in because he is tired of being tied up in office for no reason till late nights! These are all prompting points for people to get into the entrepreneurial mode and we should respect these reasons instead of rubbishing them as myths. Many people have dreams. But all they lack is a good enough reason to get started. If that is one of these ‘myths’, so be it 🙂

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