A common problem that many entrepreneurs face is getting the business to run without them. After all, who else knows the ins and outs of your firm better than you? Have you become a hostage of your own company, unable to take vacation, go home early or start exit planning for fear of everything falling apart?

This piece falls under the topic of succession planning for financial advisors. Previously, I’ve discussed picking a successor and other issues inherent to setting up your company to run for years after you’ve stepped away from it.

Even before you make moves in preparation for your exit, it is wise to establish a business structure that makes it possible for you to step away from daily operations whenever necessary. If you are too busy working to enjoy a better quality of life, what is the point of being an independent financial advisor? Achieving a healthy work-life balance requires laying the groundwork of hierarchy, mission, goals and financial plans.

Establishing a practice development solution will help FAs line up their own interests with those of their clients, as well as the financial institutions and independent marketing organizations with which they work. Additionally, it will remove some of the chaos that can sometimes pervade an independent advisory firm.

Set up a plan for transferring parts of the vast knowledge that you have about your business – from individual clients’ nuances to where the checkbook is kept – to others in your organization. It is very important to create institutional memory as you build your business – not only for when you exit, but also in case any employees do so. Rather than giving employees distinct tasks (a system that will require you to constantly manage and check in with workers), assign them functions and accountabilities within the company so they continue to be effective, even on the days when you are not in the office.

Create a mission statement that defines what you hope to achieve with your business and that conveys to clients and prospects what sets you apart from every other financial advisory firm. Going forward, fulfilling that mission will be the driving goal for all other employees, managers and even successors.

Your business plan will cover your mission and vision, while also setting objectives for one or three years down the line and analyzing the current situation of the business. Laying out operational strategies for marketing, sales, services, and managing roadblocks and major projects will give your staff members a directive and allow them to work solo while knowing that they are satisfying your expectations.