In my last post, I wrote about the notion of lawyers using a simplified, one page business plan when starting law firms.
In this post, I’d like to share some of the good examples of one page business plans from around the web and discuss how they might work for lawyers starting law firms.
It’s probably evident that in using a one page business plan, editing is king. That is to say, what you decide to leave out is as important as what the plan authors have included. As a result, there are a quite few one page plans out there and each takes a different approach.
Here are my three favorites for lawyers.
MyShingle Back of the Napkin Law Firm Plan – Start Here
This plan from Carolyn Elefant is a nice, graphical approach tailored to lawyers and focusing on mission, passion, practice area segmentation, targeted marketing and goals. It features a blend of big picture topics and down to earth business exigencies to capture excitement but move the planning process forward.
This plan makes a great first step early in your planning process.
The $100 Startup One Page Business Plan – Your Next Step
Chris Guillebeau’s excellent book on starting a micro-business has a lot of potential wisdom for the lawyer starting a practice and his one page plan is also terrific. It focuses mainly on marketing and sales, including: price setting, generating referrals, targeting ideal clients, income projections and potential obstacles to success.
Once you have committed to starting a firm and know you practice area and firm mission, this plan will help you walk through the marketing issues in a bit more depth.
Gazelles One Page Strategic Plan – 1 Year In
Gazelles is a training and coaching company and they offer a free one page strategic plan. It is two-sided and probably would be printed on 11×17 paper, so it kind of stretches the definition of one page. It is, however, comprehensive and draws heavily on information from Verne Harnish’s worthwhile, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, as well as the ideas of management uber-guru, Jim Collins.
You could think of this as more of 201 level class in business plans, as compared to the other examples. I recommend this in my work occasionally to folks who are starting up firms and already have well-formed ideas about the nuts and bolts.
Otherwise, this is a great plan for getting you refocused after you have your first year of practice under your belt.
Using the Plans for a Law Firm
In law practice management circles, we tend to spend a lot of time focusing on what makes law firms different from other businesses – we have different ethical, regulatory and market challenges from Joe’s Copy Shop and Tire Rotation, to be sure. At root level though, the private practice of law involves selling a service to a willing customer (hopefully) for a profit. In other words, the DNA of a law firm is not terribly dissimilar to any other service business. Don’t let the non-legal verbiage distract you from the underlying ideas.
These plans are designed to minimize the resistance a lot of lawyers feel to creating business plans. They are short, concise and will get you focused on the big picture.
Whether you are contemplating starting your firm or are a bunch of years into practice and feeling stuck in a rut, give these great plans (and the associated books) a look and see if you they help you chart your course.