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1: What are we doing in this training webinar?
Planning is essential to your growth, profitability and overall success. A practical business plan you can use is the lifeline for your practice. Most businesses don’t grow and won’t be able to reach their goals simply because they fail to plan.
This Practice Development training webinar is all about planning. We will dive in and ask questions crucial to your growth in this area including:
- Is there a “best” format for a business plan?
- What is the right type of plan for you?
- Who should be involved in the planning?
- Is it the type of planning that fails? Or the lack of thorough planning?
- Is it the lack of meaningful accountability going forward that causes us to fail?
We find, in most situations, even the best plans fail. This reason why is the fact that planning without implementation are just pretty words. During this training we will share our practical business plan and follow through formula together with training on how to use them to get the results you want for your practice.
This training session is focused on how to create a real business plan you can use for your practice.
2: What type of plan will we develop?
If you were to search the term “business plan” on the internet, you might be shocked to know you would find hundreds of thousands of entries. The concept of business planning is something that many of us talk about and know we should do, but very rarely take the time we need to create a workable solution in our businesses. What is the secret, the key, to the right business plan for you? The secret is creating a business plan that is tailor made for your practice you can use to reach your goals.
We prefer a straightforward, easy-to-use plan that focuses on three types of goals for your practice. These goals are:
- Daily Goals
- Short-Term Goals
- Long-Term Goals
We are going to discuss each of these goals in our training model. We are a bit different from other companies, however, in that we prefer to tackle head-on what will make your life easier. This is why we include the Daily Goals section. We want you to jump in with both feet to identify the bottlenecks in your practice that drag you down on a daily basis.
With these goals in mind, we will create your law firm business plan based on our model. Our business plan model has six components. These components are:
- Executive Summary
- Math and Numbers (aka The Financial Plan)
- Strategic Marketing Plan
As we have said to you before, we know the truth. You are an extremely busy attorney and you don’t even have a limited amount of time to spend developing your business. Our goal is to provide you with a practical plan you can create, implement and use, with the underlying assurance the work involved won’t overwhelm your already packed schedule.
Sound good? In this training session, we are going to walk you through how to create the business plan your law firm really needs and train you on how to use it throughout the year to get results.
3: Let’s Get Training!
4: Highlights from the Practice Development Webinar!
When I work with lawyers across the nation, what I often find is the business plan just isn’t there. The business plan is an afterthought. We all have ideas of where we want our business to go and to succeed but there’s very little meat ( I don’t think I like the very little meat wording) behind these ideas.
I find that happens for a number of reasons. The main reason is that you’re busy. Do you really have time to work on a business plan? Probably not. In the time (you spend on the plan) you could also get case work done, have billable hours accumulated, (or) meet with your employees.
I would challenge you that if not working on the business plan is a timing issue we need to find that time and make the business planning happen. Often it’s not just the timing though; it’s an unfamiliarity. We don’t know what to do to create a good business plan. There’s a lot of data on how to create a business plan, just from Google alone last week, there were over a million hits on business plan ideas. With that in perspective, there are over a million ideas on what a business plan is and the components of what creates a good one.
We’re going to talk today about the ones that we find at practice42 to be the most effective for law practices. You can have a lot of different pieces in your business plan, but we do not want you to get bogged down. Instead, we’re going to focus on what do you really need to reach your growth, profitability, and success goals? The measuring stick pieces that will move you forward… our goal is to give you the six essential business plan pieces that are going to move you forward…we’re going to talk to you about the essential six that are going to move you forward and get you that growth…
… The business plan we use is measurable, actionable, and real. It’s not a lot of corporate nonsense or a lot of best practice advice. With our business plan pieces you can actually put strategies, objectives, tactics, and implementation to. We are looking for a plan that you can use…
… here we talk about what the business plan will do for your practice. We’re going to talk about effective goal setting on your terms. Often people I talk to tell me the goals that they have and when I ask them if those are their goals they say, “Well, that’s something I believe I should have.” Or, “I’ve heard this idea about what I should have for goals.” We’re really going to talk about how to set goals that really make your life better. That’s crucial here. We’re going to talk about the six essential business plan pieces that we can drive a business here at practice42. We’ll talk about key components to include in every step of the plan, so when you set out each of those business pieces, or you set your goals you will know what needs to be there to support the plan. Then we’ll talk about the most crucial part of the plan. Writing the business plan is just 10% of the entire picture. You write the plan but then 90% of it is the implementation, the going forward, the making sure you’re accountable. Actually putting the plan to work…
…don’t jump off the webinar when you hear that, but this is a living, breathing document in your firm. Often we forget that. We think, “Oh, I wrote the business plan. Check the box. Done with that. See it next year.” And really that is the the wrong approach. This is a business document I would challenge you to evaluate in at least quarterly meetings, if not monthly. Implementation and accountability are key to your success…
…When we think about the role of the business plan in for your firm. It’s pulling all those pieces together. The goal is to set the direction and the course for your law practice. You wouldn’t go on a search to a deserted island for treasure without a treasure map. Much the same thing here with your law firm. You need to have a plan. Each of your goals within that plan needs to have measurable objectives for success. If you’re going to increase your clients by two a month, how are you going to do that? If you’re going to increase your revenue by 15% for next year, how are you going to do that? If you’re going to find yourself an hour of quiet time each and every day, how are you going to do that? If you’re going to stop working until midnight every night, how are you going to do that? We have to have those steps and putting those steps in place…
…Think about your needs on three levels when you’re putting together this business plan. First, is on a daily basis. Often with business plans we go very lofty. We jump into the idea that we want to have a million dollar business within the next five years. That’s great. I’m all about having great lofty monetary goals. Especially if we’re at something like 100,00 and we’re going to go to a million dollars in five years. That is great, but that’s a long range plan. That’s the three to five years area. Think about the short-term. What would make your goals happen this year? But don’t ignore the daily basis pieces. When you’re thinking about your day, what drives you crazy? What could live without verses what you love? Don’t forget to include those daily goals. Or what could you accomplish to make your life a little bit better?
Maybe it’s a team meeting every day, so your team can stop interrupting you. Maybe it’s not having to look at your email constantly. Maybe it’s turning off the notifications that you have from your case management software that tells you emails there. What are the things that we could do? Maybe it’s unplugging and going to exercise for an hour every day. Actually going to lunch and doing some marketing with new professionals. What are those daily things that you get to do what you love and then also daily things that we can do to grow your business and make your life easier?
Often I want us to have those long range goal, and the short-term goals, but also daily basis goals. As you’re moving forward with this, I want you to think about three goals in each of these areas. Three goals in each of the six: three daily basis goals, three short-term goals, and three long-term goals. Of course, you can have a ton more goals. If you want to have 50 goals, that’s fine, but I want you to think about a minimum of three in each area…
5: Getting Started with Business Planning
To succeed with this training section you will need to create a business plan for your law firm. The key here is to give yourself the time to get it done. We recommend creating the business plan that will guide you for a year over the course of thirty days. Your schedule could look like this:
- Week One
Write the business plan (we have a template for you to use below).
- Week Two
Do nothing. Step away from the plan. Don’t look at it. Let it marinate. Remember, your brain’s going to be working on it even if you don’t think that it is.
- Week Three
Come back to the business plan and read it again. Just read it. Don’t do anything else. Refresh yourself on your goals and then start to cognitively think about it.
- Week Four
Now make your final revisions. Create the final copy. Give it to another person and don’t touch it again until it is time to review it.
Most of our lawyers share they have a tendency to go back into the plan to “fix it” or “modify it” and these changes impact the goals they are, or are not, reaching. We would challenge you to put the final copy somewhere else so you won’t be tempted to touch it. You could also give it to someone else for accountability purposes. You won’t have the real data you need of what works and what does not if you alter the plan.
When it comes to creating a schedule for review now, remember we recommend no less than three hours per quarter. You could choose to break this up into monthly or quarterly meetings as you find a schedule that works for you.
6: Ready to Make Lasting Change Right Now? The Daily Checklist
7: Practice42’s 6 Part Approach
Our business plan focuses on the essential six pieces you need to create a plan for your own success story. Our plan is designed to dive deep into who you are, what you want and how you’ll get there, with the evaluation of your progress packed in there. In conjunction with our training, you can use these pieces to create the plan that works best for you.
As we share in these materials, this our six part approach for success.
1. The Executive Summary.
It sounds stodgy and a bit like a business professor is saying it to you but that doesn’t mean you don’t need one. The Executive Summary is the finely tuned component that brings together who you are, what you do and what you will become. It’s an extended elevator pitch on paper that tells the reader everything they need to know about your business.
Now is the time to think about what you are doing and who are you doing it for. That’s right, we are talking about what your services is are (and are not) and who you will provide them to (and who you will not). Get as detailed and nitty gritty in this section as possible because it is how we will understand what you offer in your law firm and what you do not and will help us fine tune what you need over the course of the business plan. This is also an appropriate place and location to include what you give back through your business.
Are you completely in a vacuum in your practice? The perfect storm of the only person who offers what you offer to your local competition? Chances are this is probably not the case. You do need to take stock of your competition to understand where you are similar and where you are different. What do you like? What do you not like? Where can you find a shared relationship? If you need more information in this section we will talk about secret shopping campaigns in a later training session.
When we talk about your ecosystem with you there are three distinct pieces we are discussing: 1) the work environment that supports you to be able to do what you do, 2) the team of individuals you need to be able to get work done, and 3) the how you do the actual work itself. Each of these topics needs to be covered in your ecosystem section of your business plan. Also described as operations, admin and workflow, these pieces are key to your foundation for growth.
5. Math and Numbers (aka The Financial Plan).
Not all of us like math but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on top of the numbers in your business. We want you to look at three very distinct set of numbers. First, your operations budget. What do you have to make every month to keep the lights on (and yes, this includes your salary)? What do you pay for that is essential to your business and what is not? Second, your growth budget. Where do you want to be? What amount of money do you need for investment, savings and growth? Third, your profit budget. At what point, do you starting turning the profit you want? Is it when you and everyone on your team is grossing three times salary or is it something else? What will bonuses look like? How will you take them?
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business but, unfortunately for most of us, it feels complicated and uncomfortable. It is true that most lawyers have very little marketing training yet everything you do is geared for marketing (i.e. talking to strangers, finding solutions, motivating people to the right choices). Marketing can also be frustrating because it may take longer to see return on investment with certain pieces. In our materials, we work with you on a four-part marketing plan that includes in equal parts community network development, events/seminars, client family development and integrated digital marketing. Start by outlining your goals in these areas together with the objectives and tactics for how to reach them. Your Marketing Plan can take on a life of its own. Be sure to see the training session and materials in conjunction with the training materials.
Click here to download our Practice Development Business Plan template.
8: When You Need Financing in Your Firm
Our business plan model is about functionality, practicality and your success. It is not as robust, however, as business plan templates you may find out there in the world because we find most of them contain information you simply don’t need to reach your goals.
With this disclaimer in place, let’s discuss financing. If you decide to apply for financing for your firm, be prepared that the lender is more than likely going to require more information. Our business plan model, while it’s incredibly powerful and actionable for you to use as a tool in your practice, may not contain enough information for them.
Get prepared now. Start with a financial plan that includes years, where possible, of historical financial data and an assessment of your liquidity as well. Many lenders want to know how leveraged you are when you own a small business. You may need to be able to put up collateral to get a loan.
They may ask to see the operations of your ecosystem. Be prepared to show your operations manual, your policy manuals and your hiring practices. They may ask questions on your specific liability insurances, especially business liability insurance and cyber terrorism insurance. There may be inquiries into your management summaries and a request for a practice valuation. You may have to get an audit from an independent business auditor as well.
9: Additional Resources that Accompany this Practice Development Section
Whenever we have a training session, we find it gives rise to numerous other topics and resources that can significantly help you in your law practice. Here is our list of additional materials you may want to consider that accompany The Real Business Plan Your Law Firm Needs training section. These resources may have been mentioned during the training directly, plus a few we know can be of assistance based on questions from our clients.
In this specific training section, we also include external resources you may want to check out to assist you in your paperless journey:
Start with Why By: Simon Sinek (Available on Amazon)
Built to Last By: Jim Collins (Available on Amazon)
Hooked By: Nir Eyal (Available on Amazon)
The Small Business Association Starting and Managing a Business Resources
The American Management Association