This article first appeared in Professional Adviser.

Simon Goldthorpe shares his insight into the advice business after 40 years at the coal face…

Having worked in advice for more than 40 years, I’m often asked if I have any wisdom to offer looking back on my career.

Anyone who has spent a decent amount of time around me will know that my first ‘proper’ job was as a management trainee at Halifax Building Society back in the 70s.

Having left for a stint in the estate agency business, I found myself being drawn back into financial services by the ‘Big Bang’ in the 80s and the advent of personal pensions. From there, I went on to launch an asset management firm – Beacon, before becoming one of the founders of Beaufort Group in 2010.

Like most people who’ve been in the industry as long as me, my career has taken its fair share of twists and turns. Now fortunate enough to spend most of my time around ambitious advisers who want to build successful businesses, I often find myself contemplating the things that could have saved me a lot of time, anguish and headaches.

Whether you’ve been in it for years or are just starting out, here are the three key pieces of advice I would offer any financial advice business owner.

1. Always ask the question

I was lucky enough to establish my first business fairly young. This opened some fantastic opportunities and experiences for me, but a key downside was that I’d often find myself sat in board meetings not quite understanding what was being said, and not wanting to question more technical concepts for fear of appearing stupid.

As it turned out, there were a few decisions made in regard to that business which eventually led to real difficulties at the height of the financial crash. At the time, those decisions seemed a little strange to me, but I never spoke up as I assumed others in the room knew better than me.

To this day, I’m a big believer in people asking any questions that spring to mind, regardless of how blindingly obvious they may seem. Questions can always be phrased diplomatically – but if you don’t ask them and something goes wrong, then you may come to regret it.

2. Keep learning

If I think back to when I was starting out, I let the fact I’d been successful early on in my working life allow me to believe I was naturally good at things. I thought certain people were cut out to be successful, and that I was one of them.

As it turns out, I went on to have a few abrupt lessons in why that’s not true. These lessons taught me that, firstly, you should never believe your own press and, secondly, no one is ever past the point of learning.

Even at my ripe old age, I still find that I’m learning all the time, and that things never are quite as I always thought they were. Be it embracing new technology or ways of working, the most successful people are always prepared to adapt how they do things and aren’t afraid to buck convention.

Just because everybody else is doing something – or you’ve always done something a certain way – it doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you or your business. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing the majority; listening to all the mouth-pieces in the media without challenging the narrative.

3. If you fail – try again

Let’s be honest, being successful in business requires a huge element of luck.

From Richard Branson to Karren Brady, the most successful entrepreneurs all have one thing in common – at some point they got very lucky (though not all will acknowledge that).

Despite often being praised for his success despite not having a university degree, and being severely dyslexic, Branson himself admits he was lucky to have parents who were able to support him when he dropped out of school. At the same time, Brady has questioned whether she’d be where she is now had she not been accepted onto the Saatchi & Saatchi graduate scheme.

That’s not to say there aren’t certain things that won’t help you make your own luck or create opportunities. However, the crucial point is you must be prepared to go back and have another go if everything doesn’t fall into place the first time around and not everyone is willing to do that. For some the potential anxiety, and strain on family and relationships, simply wouldn’t be worth it.

Mine certainly isn’t an aspirational journey you’ll see covered in entrepreneurship books, but I’m a good example of how, if you keep trying and learn the lessons of failure, luck will eventually come at the right time.

Ultimately, every business owner’s journey is going to be very different. However, with an open mind and a willingness to overcome knockbacks, you’ll set yourself up for the most successful outcome possible.