Working as both a financial planner and a business consultant allows Phil Dyer, founding principal of Dyer Financial Advisory in Towson, Md., to serve his clients’ many needs.
“Probably 75 percent of my clients are either business owners, entrepreneurs, or service professionals like doctors or dentists, that run their own business,” Dyer said. While that concentration of clients “was not due to any kind of grand design,” he said, he has embraced his role as a planner to business owners and is now also a certified business coach, with a separate business that conducts strategic business coaching and team development for clients who use his financial planning services as well as additional clients.
Dyer said that he has acquired clients from both sides of his business, with financial planning clients becoming business consulting clients and vice versa.
As a business coach, he said, he helps people determine if their business is what he called a lifestyle-based business, one that is mainly built around the business owner and his or her skills, or an equity-based business that they intend to sell down the road.
“I do a lot of work on strategic vision, helping the business owner understand their skills and strengths,” he said, as well as identifying the tasks they are not as good at and should be outsourcing or delegating. Team building is also a key component of his business consulting practice, Dyer said. He works with mid-sized businesses to help them better use the strengths of their employees, keeping them engaged and happy. He said that most people, even if they love their job, probably have a few things they really dislike doing, and there may well be someone else in the organization that really enjoys those tasks.
Despite working with clients to help build employee teams, Dyer jokingly called himself “employee phobic” and said that instead of having full time staff he is supported by about 15 primarily part-time, project-oriented support people in a virtual office that he can lead from his laptop.
“Everything that I personally don’t like doing, I’ve outsourced,” he said.
Dyer said he feels it is important to focus on the tasks that he enjoys and that he is most productive at doing, and he encourages his clients to do the same. He outsources other functions to experts because he feels that traditional employees do not necessarily offer the best value proposition for a small businessperson like himself.
“Why would I have an employee that might be sort of good at three of the ten things I need on a regular basis when for the same money I can hire experts, paying only for what I need when I need it?” he asked.
Dyer said that many small business owners have the attitude of “if I want it done right I need to do it myself” but he called that approach “the first class ticket on the slow train to madness.”
Anyone who is interested in creating an equity-based business –one they can sell for a profit at some point down the road – needs to find a way to delegate and outsource tasks so that the business can run without them, or else it will have no true value after they leave, he said.
Dyer also said that most business owners wait too late to begin their transition plan. “I’m actually of the opinion you build it for exit from the get go,” he said, or at the very least, a business owners should start planning five to seven years before they need to sell or retire. If a business is not going to sell for a lot of money at retirement time, then the business owner needs to make sure to pull enough money out of the business while it is a going concern to fund a retirement plan.
He said his litmus test for an equity-based business is if the business owner could call tomorrow and tell the staff he or she is taking a month off. “Would they be able to function?” he asked. If not, then the business owner needs to learn to delegate more or accept that he or she has a lifestyle-based business, not an equity-based business.
In addition to his work with financial planning and business consulting clients, Dyer also does a large amount of financial education work, in schools and companies and for retired military personnel. His financial education programs range from very broad-based general financial planning sessions for staff at private schools to more specific programs geared towards higher-paid corporate executives, he said.