Ironic if the same law firm that is all about planning for the future does not have a plan of its own! At IMS, we work with estate planning and Elder Law firms across the country to help develop business plans that foster continued growth or enhance the current success of practices. In a competitive marketplace, the lack of a business plan is tantamount to asking for failure.
One of the goals that we discuss during Strategic Planning Retreats centers on what our clients love about the work they do. What type of matters and clients do they find most rewarding? Which ones get them jazzed about going to the office, every day? And, just as important, which ones do they wish they never had to address again?
The goal of the business plan is to help you build a practice where you enjoy coming to work every day, you can leave at a normal hour and have a work-life balance. It’s entirely possible. But it doesn’t happen by magic.
Specific goals, as micro and macro as possible. How many new clients do you want to walk in the door every week? How many do you need to walk in the door to maintain cash flow and keep associates busy? If you don’t know this information like the back of your hand, how will you get there?
Ideal client profile. If you don’t know, start by taking a look at your appointment calendar. What appointments are you excited to see, and which ones would you like to avoid or hand off to a colleague? Can you define your ideal client by gender, age or stage of life, assets or family situation? Do divorced mid-life women make up most of your practice, or do you generally see married couples? Start taking notes, then compare your notes to what’s in your E2 CRM. Is there a difference?
Ideal client profile, part 2. Knowing the data for your ideal client is a start, but as estate planning is a very personal kind of practice, you need to go another step and define the values, attitudes, lifestyle and other personality or psychological elements of your perfect client. Remember that they don’t have to be the same as your values—unless that is a choice you want to make.
How much is enough? This is the question that some people steer clear of, but we think it’s too important to dance around. How much do you want/need to earn? If you are a solo practitioner, are you willing to open your practice to a partner or associates to grow the practice and increase your profitability? Knowing what kind of a lifestyle you want and how much income is needed to support that lifestyle is part of any business plan.