I am not so cynical to believe the proverb, "Man makes plans and God laughs." 

I'm hoping He, at the very least, gives us credit for a good attitude and maybe even extra credit for doing some planning.

After all, business planning, specifically your plan for growing your firm, should help make the world a better place.

Making a plan for growth by no means assures your success, but not planning your firm's growth risks knee-jerk reactions to cyclical long-term economic trends and wasted opportunities. So apart from gaining favor with The Big Guy, a growth plan for your business would seem to have obvious practical benefits.

My guess is that only 20% of financial advisors-those with business coaches-have written plans. The rest don't find the time, are paralyzed at the thought, or think they are so smart that they don't need to go through the tiresome exercise of committing a plan to paper.

Some good news: Whether you're too busy, insecure, or overconfident to write your growth plan, I'm going to try to help, and tell you how some advisors are planning to grow their businesses.

Let's start with Cheryl Holland at Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, S.C. Holland is that rare personality who lights up rooms everywhere she goes. She just has that natural ability.

Abacus has 20 employees, which is a fairly large number for an independent advisory firm. The firm is riding a growth wave brought on by a confluence of events, including the movement of wirehouse advisors to RIAs, a population boom in the Southeast U.S., and acceptance of women as business leaders.

"Growth is not my goal," says Holland, 53. "It's building a business that's my goal. Growth is a byproduct of having a healthy business."

Holland's growth plan is based on her vision of what it would be like if everyone working at Abacus now were to still be there in ten years. Holland asked herself: "How would we grow this firm if we gave everyone working here everything they wanted to accomplish in the next ten years?"

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