We got lucky in 2012. The financial markets held up. The economy, while slow, didn’t tank. Inflation remained benign. And the world held together.

Will we say the same about 2013 a year from now?

I chose the word “momentous” in the title because it means “of great or far-reaching importance or consequence.” Notice that momentous could be “positive” or “negative”. If 2013 turns out to be positive, your business will likely take care of itself. If it turns out to be negative, your business could suffer immense damage.

Like you do for your clients, protecting your business downside should be high on your agenda. Here are 7 things to revisit over the next few weeks so you can start 2013 from a position of strength and be prepared for whatever the world throws at you.

  1. Revisit your motivation. Are you still enjoying the business? It’s clear that the past few years in the markets have taken a toll on many advisors. If you’re in that category, either retire or get reenergized. If it’s the former, start planning now so you can exit from a position of strength while the financial markets are supportive. If it’s the latter, buddy up with other advisors and form a study group to strengthen each other. Join a coaching program like Peak Advisor Alliance for business support. Affirm or revise your personal and business mission and recommit to personal and professional growth.
  1. Revisit your value proposition. What do you do that clients will pay money for regardless of how their portfolio performs? Financial planning is the biggie. Strengthen your offering here in the year ahead. Go back and do plans for your clients that don’t have them. Make a genuine effort to deepen your relationship with your best clients.
  1. Revisit expenses. You can control your costs but not what the market does. Be ruthless in cutting investment expenses. Eliminate unnecessary business expenses so you can start the year with better cash flow and a cushion.
  1. Revisit your growth plan. Cutting expenses will only take you so far. What’s your plan to generate new business in 2013? Is it getting serious about asking for referrals? Getting more involved in your community? Offering specialized events? Partnering with centers of influence? Working LinkedIn? Dramatically raising your visibility through speaking, writing, and media? The key is to have a growth plan, implement it, and adjust along the way.
  1. Revisit your investment process. I won’t argue here about active versus passive. Either way, you have to be clear on what you are doing, why you are doing it, and have the data, research, and behavioral studies to back up your position. Remember, clients can take their money to Fidelity or Vanguard and cut you out of the picture.
  1. Revisit your backup plan. We still have pundits predicting a return to the 600s on the S&P 500. If that happens in 2013, would your business survive? Develop some type of “insurance” plan to ensure business continuity and personal sanity. Make sure you have “go to” colleagues that you can consult if things start to blow up. Have Plan A for business as usual, Plan B for a 2013 recession and Plan Z in case all hell breaks loose. By knowing in advance that you can survive a worst-case scenario, you can operate with confidence and make decisions with clarity.
  1. Be thankful. We can moan and groan about how tough things are (and I sometimes do), but let’s be clear; we live in a great, free country. We get to help people and get paid for it. And a bad day for us is infinitely better than the typical day for many people around the world. Make it a point to wake up each morning and go to bed each night giving thanks for your blessings.

I believe 2013 will be a momentous year. And, depending on how you plan, it could be tremendous or calamitous. You decide.
What are your plans for 2013?

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