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Are you a large or small financial adviser? Either way, here are seven steps for success in 2022.

Many of these are old truths but it is important to be reminded of these as we head into a new year.

1. Know your market and constantly eye your competitors

You may have a great idea, but it may be that others have had similar (or will do). Keep a constant eye on the competitive landscape to ensure you keep up with new developments. Know what has worked and what has not for others in your market.

2. Keep your customer central

The customer makes or breaks your business, so you must keep them central to everything you do; however fast your business grows. Larger firms should do regular market research and extensively test new products/services with real clients.

Smaller enterprises should enlist help wherever they can (family and friends are helpful here). Listen to any customer feedback you get. It is like gold to a growing business.

3. Cultivate candid contributors

It is vital to have as many experienced, honest viewpoints as possible as your business evolves – people who will tell you how it is, even if you do not necessarily want to hear it.

Larger companies should look to employ non-executive directors to help steer their business. Still, even smaller ones can seek regular input from seasoned business people in more informal ways, so get networking.

Seven secrets of success- source from a photo by Miguel Á

4. Keep the passion alive

The luckiest (and often most successful) businesspeople have chosen to start businesses in sectors they genuinely have a passion for.

This ensures that they see gaps in the market and are sustained with innate enthusiasm when things get tough (as they always will in growing a business).

Stoke your passion by watching competitors and giving back to the community through your business where you can. Also, make sure to reward yourself for your efforts and take time for yourself – this is very easy to forget.

5. Keep control, but not too much

At first, you need to be involved in every decision to lay the right foundations for your business, and you should undoubtedly remain ‘captain of the ship’ as it grows.

However, no one can have responsibility for every single thing in a business of any appreciable size, so find the right people to help – and then let them.

6. Nurture relationships

Strong relationships – with customers, staff, suppliers, authorities – are the foundation of any business, so nurture these by ‘living your brand’ in everything you do. Also, maintain a good relationship with the person who started the company (you) and don’t stray too far from your vision.

7. Stick to the plan, but not too rigidly

It would help if you never compromised on your vision for the business or your values. But while you should formulate a strong business plan, you must be open to changing it as circumstances dictate.

Reacquaint yourself – and any staff – with your ‘mission’ regularly, but also look for signals that your past roadmap is taking you slightly off course.

These are, of course, just a few of the critical precepts I have picked up over the years. It would be great to hear from entrepreneurial readers what their ‘secrets of success are, and perhaps what the big pitfalls are to avoid.

This should also include succession planning. It does not matter how long until retirement; it is vital to prepare now and shape your business accordingly. Internal management buyout, external sale, merger or acquisition, IPO? Your strategy must align with your succession preference.

Independent consultant Brian Spence is founding director of international M&A specialist HSP Consulting.