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Mistakes consultants make in their business case for partnership

Many of my clients are consultants, and thus I see a lot of business cases for partnership in the Big 4 firms as well as the large consultancy firms.  I have noticed that the same mistakes are repeated, but they are so easy to fix. In this article, I share what these common mistakes are, and how you can avoid them in your bid to make partner in a consultancy firm.

Show and explain your figures

Of course you know to include figures showing your performance, by year, over the past 3 years.  However, where I see the mistakes creeping in is when consultants presume the numbers speak for themselves. If there are some points where you didn’t hit your targets, don’t hope to shuffle these under the carpet – be up front and explain why. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, perhaps you’d been heavily focused on growing your pipeline after a long term project finished?

In the same way – any times where you impressively exceeded your target – explain those too. What did you do that made a difference, and can you do it again?

Follow the structure, but not blindly, make your case individual

Most firms have a structure or form that they want you to complete for your partnership business case. However, the best cases I have seen are written away from the form and then restructured to fit.  That way, they have not been focussing on the sections, but focussing on the key messages.  The result is a much more powerful business case. (click on the link to download a free guide to creating your business case)

Keep it brief

I know this is one of the most important documents you have ever written, but (sorry) it’s extremely unlikely that it will be read right through the the end. I know of one firm that employs a consultant to read and summarise all the partnership business cases to cut down on the amount of paperwork the partners have to wade through.

Great business cases for partner are succinct and compelling. If you can’t communicate the crux of your argument in 3 or 4 paragraphs, then you have a problem and you need to seriously rethink your partnership business case.

Don’t add flannel. Verify and quantify every point

Not all consultants can write well.    Your business case for partnership shouldn’t be written in management consultant’ease. You know, long words, long sentences which mere mortals struggle to comprehend. But nor should it be full of what I call marketing ‘puffery’.  You know the sort of thing:  claims to be “great with clients.” What does that even mean?  Anyone can write that, and I’ve seen it many, many times.  Words are cheap, but actions and commitment are valuable.  Explain how you are great with clients and, more importantly, what this means for the firm – in cold hard figures.

A winning business case for partner doesn’t have to be difficult to write, nor packed with every piece of information you can think of. It needs to be compelling, punchy, and impossible to refute.  Read more about how to write a cast iron business case for partnership, or download your free career kitbag, which is packed with information to help you create a fulfilling career.

This article originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.

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This article originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’, Poised for partnership and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life and works with future and current Big 4 partners and professionals from mid-tier firms all over the world

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