If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that even the best laid plans can go south in the face of unexpected circumstances … like a pandemic! So does that mean you should stop making plans altogether?
In fact, what it has shown is that a SOLID business plan is more important than ever. You see the right kind of business plan doesn’t become irrelevant when life throws a curve ball. Instead, it becomes the foundation upon which you pivot.
It becomes the guidebook for navigating choppy waters. It’s the lifeline you turn to and can count on when nothing seems certain.
And here are 10 more reasons you MUST have a solid, well thought-out business plan if you’re serious about sustainable, predictable growth.
But while my team and I at How To Manage A Small Law Firm are vigilant about helping our members build business plans, these 10 reasons I’m sharing here didn’t come from our policies and procedures handbook.
These reasons were shared by actual owners of real law firms whose business plans have supported their massive growth, even during the pandemic!
No. 10: A written business plan allows you to sit down and form a clear picture of where your business is right now and what kind of shape it’s in. Self-awareness isn’t comfortable but it’s step one to getting everything you want. It’s only when you get real that you can map out where you want to go on a micro level…like, how many hours per week you want to work, how many vacations a year you want to take and so forth.
No. 9: It allows you to set future goals and create a plan to achieve them. A solid business plan includes three types of goals—personal, professional and financial—and also includes a timeline for when you will hit each milestone and how you will do it.
No. 8: It provides the accountability you need to get things DONE. No more saying you aren’t sure what to do. The steps will be right in front of you! It’s a roadmap so that you never again are stuck in an unproductive pattern of “I don’t know what to do next.” You just refer back to your plan and keep going. At HTM, we take our members through an 18-month calendar planning exercise, and in fact it’s an exercise I do EVERY year myself too. It allows you to literally pencil in GROWTH on your calendar.
No. 7: Research says that once a goal is written down, it’s more likely to be completed. This one is just common sense! Without a written plan, you are guessing your way through business ownership.
No. 6: Sharing it with your staff and significant other gets you on the same page with them and can help to bring the team together. SO important. A plan provides a feeling of security for everyone at your firm and in your family. No one is comfortable when you’re just winging it.
No. 5: If you are working with a CEO, COO, or CFO or even just a receptionist, (and depending on which stage of growth you are in, you should be!), it gives you the ability to show them where you are, where you’re going, and what your goals are. Additionally, a SOLID business plan should include the policies and procedures of your company, giving everyone involved, both team and clients, a reference guide for exactly how the show should be running! Your plan enrolls your stakeholders in the vision you have for your firm.
No. 4: It allows you to be confident that you will actually reach your goals because you know there is a plan in place to do so. Having no plan is a rookie mistake. Having a written plan is how the pros play. With a solid business plan, you are the real deal. You step into a leadership energy knowing that your vision is supported by actual strategy.
No. 3: It helps you be able to run a business effectively instead of JUST practicing law. There is a difference between a hobby and a business. A hobby may or not make you money. A hobby is inconsistent. A business on the other hand (one with a plan being managed properly) generates revenue predictably and consistently.
No. 2: It takes the guesswork out of business ownership. You will know exactly how many cases you need and how much to charge to live the exact lifestyle you want to live with your family. It matures you as a law firm owner and a person and allows you to serve your clients better.
And the number 1 reason your law firm NEEDS a business plan:
No. 1: It will ensure your legacy. Without a plan for consistent growth, there is little guarantee that your hard work will result in a profitable business. And if you don’t have a profitable business, you don’t really have a business, you have a hobby.
And honestly, that’s reason enough to take the time to create a clear, written business plan.
One thing our members agreed on was that lawyers tend to have this mentality that they don’t NEED to have a business plan, because that’s “business stuff.” They think that any time spent doing “business stuff” is time taken away from their clients, so they continue to work more and more, harder and harder.
But the fact is that a written business plan allows you to spend your time on the things that matter most, so that you can actually free up MORE time for your clients.
The law firm owners that hit their financial goals are the ones that have a written business plan and they are also the ones who are most successful and spending the most time with their families.
Right now there are two steps you can take if you want our help getting started on YOUR business plan: