Yesterday, my colleague Jamie Bailey, encouraged partners contemplating a move to draft a business plan. The most common response I get when I suggest the same is–“Do I really need a business plan?” The answer is an unequivocal yes!
Some things to keep in mind:
A business plan can be even more important than a CV/Resume. No one ever puts up a fight when asked to draft a resume. We all assume it’s a mandatory part of the job search process. However, when I utter the words “business plan,” it’s quite a different story. Ironically, I can think of more than a handful of firms where a copy of a partner’s law firm bio will suffice in lieu of a formal resume. I can’t think of a single firm that would turn down the opportunity to review a partner’s business plan. For an established partner with significant portable business, a business plan lends immediate credibility to the nature of the portable business. For an up-and-coming partner with little to no business, a business plan is the best way to sell a prospective employer on your potential. In either case, a business plan can be even more important than having a detailed resume.
A business plan does not give away all your secrets. One of the most common objections I get to the idea of drafting a business plan is–“I don’t want to share confidential information that the firm can then use to its advantage.” But keep in mind–a business plan does not have to give away all of your secrets. With careful drafting and a well-reasoned approach as to what will be included in the business plan, you can definitely convey the necessary facts without spilling your secrets.
What does a business plan say about you? It tells the prospective firm a number of essential facts: (1) that you understand the economical/business aspects of practicing law; (2) that if the firm hires you, you are going there to be a productive, contributing member of the firm; (3) that you have given thought to your practice and how it fits in with the firm’s existing practice; (4) that you are confident enough in your skills and abilities to give them a snapshot of what you have to offer; and (5) that you care about where you end up.
Once candidates get over the initial reluctance, they tend to find the exercise of drafting a business plan incredibly helpful. Often times, drafting a business plan goes a long way towards solidfying what you are looking for in your job search and it helps you prepare to advocate for yourself during the interview phase. There really isn’t a downside and, in the end, is really is quite painless!
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