Andrew Wintle is Principal Consultant on the Partner team at RedLaw. Part of our consultative and supporting role advising our candidates on preparing for interview, includes how to create and deliver the best business plan. From his extensive experience, Andy has pulled together his top 10 tips in his latest blog.
At RedLaw, we act for a wide range of Partners and senior lawyers who are seeking a lateral move to a new firm. Whilst there is a huge appetite for hiring new lateral partners at present, there is also an increasing level of diligence.
At some stage in any process you will be asked to produce a business plan, or to work with the firm to provide content for their own pro forma. I have worked on hundreds of partner business plans and have some key rules for making your plan stand out:
- Always have an executive summary. This is a summary of the rest of the document. Not an introduction. Likely you will need to provide concise information on you, your practice, objectives, sectors, clients and numbers. Remember, you are selling yourself and your practice.
- Write for your audience. Your readers are likely to be senior decision makers (and usually also fee-earners) who are time poor. So it is best to avoid unnecessary padding and get straight to the point. Make sure there are “hooks” in your executive summary, which will grab attention early.
- All marketeers will talk about the “power of 3” in terms of writing engaging content and communication. Bear this in mind as you write a plan; effectively, your own marketing document.
- “A goal without a plan, is just a wish”. So have a workable plan. Be aware that at some stage in the majority of partner processes you will be asked for a business plan. If you don’t have one already, or even just a skeleton, then the delay in its production will have a negative impact on the process. If you put a plan together before you start the process it will a) inform your thinking and approach b) give you confidence, and c) maintain momentum.
- Start early. In an ideal world your business plan should be a living document. Start it when you are an associate and keep adding layers of detail; refer back to it often and check the progress you are making.
- Your cv will get you an invite to the party – and you get this invite based on past performance. But the business plan is your “party piece”. What will you be doing when you get there? So it is about the future, as well as the past. If you are asked to produce a business plan, don’t simply recast your CV. They are two separate documents with distinct and different functions.
- Write with a positive mind-set. Obviously, do not over egg the pudding when it comes to the numbers. But do use positive language. All firms want positive additions to their partnerships. Accordingly, it is best to write a business plan when things are going well.
- Provide context. Set out, succinctly, the micro and macro environment that will influence your practice. Introduce outside data if required; this shows a wider understanding of your market.
- Make sure the numbers add up. If you have stated a figure in your executive summary then this will need to be reflected in the more detailed breakdown of projections elsewhere in your plan. Any inconsistencies will raise doubts.
We are well versed in providing bespoke business plan advice and in assisting partners in putting together plans and explaining the merits of their practice in the context of target firms.