If I believe in something, I never give up. No matter how many roadblocks there may be, if you’re resourceful enough you will find a way to make it work. I always accept that challenge.

 

Drew Parker is the owner, and creator of The Complete Retirement Planner. Setting new standards for retirement planning tools, it uses proprietary technical and educational features to provide the means for anyone to easily create a comprehensive, year by year retirement plan that is as individualized and accurate as possible. His company was founded in 2017, and quickly gained satisfied customers from coast to coast.

Prior to founding his company, Drew spent over 16 years as a Buyer, Financial Planner, and Financial Manager for a Fortune 500 company, which afforded him extensive experience in designing and building financial planning tools. Drew is also a G.I.A. trained Gemologist, and he spent 15 years in the fine jewelry industry as the Vice President of a fine jewelry retailer, and then as a Vice President of a diamond wholesaler. Drew resides in Mercer Island, WA, and officially retired at age 55 to devote his time to The Complete Retirement Planner, and to spending cherished time with his family.

Where did the idea for The Complete Retirement Planner come from?

I was searching for a comprehensive retirement planning tool to help me plan for retirement. I couldn’t find one that accounted for enough personal information, provided a year by year plan, had flexibility, and that didn’t use assumptions that didn’t apply to me. Then I found out that 74% of households don’t have a written retirement plan, and I knew why – while there’s lots of advice about planning for retirement, there are virtually no in-depth tools that help put that advice to work (try to find one!). Everyone benefits from having a solid financial plan, but it’s complicated to figure out, and people need help. My solution was to create the most thorough, easy to use, and affordable retirement planning tool possible.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I always read customer feedback to come up with new features and improvements, review the web site analytics to get insight into our customer base, and work on blog posts about key planning thoughts. The goal is always to improve the product, and learn something new.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Communicating with customers is critical to understanding what they need from our product. When a potential improvement is identified, it immediately gets tested to see if it will add value for the majority of users without adding complexity. Finding that balance keeps us on our toes.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The acceptance of financial planning tools like ours shows that consumers are realizing just how limited, and misleading, the calculators and “planners” on financial sites are. It’s unfortunate that large companies think so little of the average consumer that they only provide inferior tools to attract them to their business, but that provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to come up with better solutions. The consumer ultimately benefits from that.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

If I believe in something, I never give up. No matter how many roadblocks there may be, if you’re resourceful enough you will find a way to make it work. I always accept that challenge.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t hesitate to dive right in. If you have an idea for a business, or even just one product, just go for it. Even if it doesn’t work out, it will prepare you that much more for the next project. If you hesitate, you delay learning and growing, and possibly even success.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

We completely, and irresponsibly, surrendered our personal privacy by embracing social media so blindly and intensely. Also, storing so much information (especially financial) on our phones is not wise. I have nothing against social media, but when your whereabouts and activities can be tracked (and hacked!) without your knowledge, it will not end well.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Constantly review the effectiveness and relevance of your business. No matter how good you think it is, try to find something better to learn from, or that will help you to make your product better. The day you stop trying to improve is the day your business starts declining.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Embracing the fact that the customer is always right. Even if you don’t think they’re right, treat them as if they are. Address any question or concern immediately, and completely. Always exceed their expectations, and you will gain a loyal customer base. Without customers, you have no business, no matter how amazing your product may be.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I started a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the money needed to launch my business, but it failed. Instead of hiring people to design an e-commerce web site, set up an LLC, help with SEO, write copy, etc., I learned how to do it all myself. It was time consuming, but I was able to be fully operational for less than $1,000 instead of the projected 8,000-$10,000 it would have cost otherwise. Believe in your ability to learn!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Consumers need a variety of well-designed financial planning tools (not just over simplified toys) that are easy to use, accurate, and very affordable. Think about a College Savings calculator that accounts for financial aid, loans, and different type of institutions, or a Social Security calculator that outlines dozens of claiming strategies, etc. Having a one stop shop for a variety of tools that are better than anything else on the market, even if they are compiled from different sources, would be quickly celebrated and successful. Nothing like this exists, but I would be happy to help if someone would like to undertake it.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I purchased Canon ink for a color photo printer (direct from Canon) for $110, and they included 1,000 sheets of 4” x 6” glossy photo paper, and 200 sheets of 8.5” x 11” glossy photo paper for free. That’s ~$250 of photo paper at no charge! Great deal.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

For a small business, using Shopify as a web host has allowed us to concentrate on the business itself rather than on certain operational details. They offer easy payment systems, a secure web site, basic SEO, and lots of free (and paid) apps to help get your business established that would otherwise take lots of extra time and effort to maintain on your own. It allows you to get started quickly, grow as needed, and automate many processes.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

How To Make Money In Stocks”, by William O’Neill. Achieving financial security often involves investing. This book is a good starting point to understanding how to evaluate stocks, and understanding the markets. Without having at least a basic understanding of how to invest, you must trust someone else to make all decisions on your behalf. Having responsible help is great, but having blind faith is not advisable. Always be informed.

What is your favorite quote?

I have two, but they work together:
Always consider the source.” Everyone has an agenda, and a different level of understanding. It’s critical to be aware of both if you’re seeking advice, or listening to a viewpoint.
You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” – Harlan Ellison

Key learnings:

• Believe in yourself, and in your ability to accomplish whatever is necessary.
• With determination and commitment, all roadblocks can be overcome.
• Look for an opportunity to create a product/business that will help others.
It will be both rewarding, and humbling.
• Always strive to improve – both your business, and yourself.
• Treat your customers better than they expect to be treated.

Connect:

www.completeretirementplanner.com