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Treat Your Business Plan like The Constitution; Amend It

by Paul Miller on May 5, 2016

bizplanWhen you decided to hang your shingle and open your firm you created a business plan.  At the time, it was a great tool to get your feet off the ground, you analyzed your market, your competitors, you looked at price structure for your hourly, you took into account your overhead and costs, as well as how you were going to market your firm.  Most importantly, you projected your future income, and as it turned out, in three years you were going to be rich! You may have even showed it to your significant other. “Look honey, no worries.” You put the business plan on the shelf, or in a filing cabinet. If you’re like many of us however, it hasn’t moved since.

Treat your business plan like it’s a living document. It has to be amended and changed to ensure success. Your changes can be large or small, simple or complex, the important thing is to get that plan of the shelf and start making changes.  I use an easy three step process to make changes to mine; annotate, modify, and proof.

The first step I take in updating my business plan is to skim through it, looking at the headings and subheadings. As I read I put a simple check mark next to the section that needs to be changed.  I pay particular attention to my marketing and promotion strategies, my implementation and financial plans. These are to me, my moving targets; your mileage may vary. After you’ve made your simple notations on what items need to be changed go back and make those changes. Ask yourself; what has changed? Are there new opportunities and strategies that you can now implement that you couldn’t before? Are there items in your business plan that you said you were going to implement and didn’t? Did you reach your financial projections? Are you collecting 100% of the money you earn? Why not? These are just a few of the questions that I ask myself; of course everyone’s practice is different. If you’ve never updated your business plan your edits may be glaringly obvious, and perhaps somewhat comical. (What was I thinking?)

After I’ve made my edits, I set my document aside for a day or so, thinking about if I’ve covered everything, or if I need to add anything. I then go back make my final changes and print up my business plan, read it, making notes to myself on what I need to change to make it happen. I then take steps to make it happen.

Our Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times to reflect the changes in our society. Your business plan should be amended frequently to reflect the changes in your practice.  Some experts state that it should be updated every month, while others recommend every quarter. I update my business plan quarterly. Rereading your business plan and making changes is important to the success of your firm. It allows you to refocus, and redirect your energy, while gaining insight on new opportunities and throwing out others that are a waste of your time.  Your business plan is your game plan; to be successful make sure your game plan is relevant, up to date, and applicable.

Paul Miller is a sole practitioner located in Denver whose primary focus is estate and business planning. He can be contacted at paul@pmillerlawoffice.com.

 

 

 

{ 1 comment }

David Somerfleck May 26, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Good post and I think it’s important for solo practice lawyers to be open to amending their branding, marketing perspectives, and online work. If a lawyer creates a free, generic website with a free template and no SEO and ads on it, it can detract and hinder that practice rather than help – and reinvention is the necessary rule in most cases.

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