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What to do BEFORE you write your business case for partnership

Guest blog by Heather Townsend, co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ and author of ‘FT Guide To Business Networking‘, and guest blogger for Big4.com.

Very often a firm will require it’s candidates for partnership to submit a personal business case as part of the admission process for new partners. This document isn’t something you can dash off at the weekend. So, in this post we are going to focus on what you need to do BEFORE you actually start writing your business case for partnership.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a lawyer, accountant or consultant, the actual writing of your personal business case for partnership is the last part of the process. Before this point, you will need to have done your homework.

Ideally as you start to write your business case the words will flow, based on many conversations with partners and extensive research into the market place and your firm. So, how long should you give yourself to research and write your business case? There is no hard and fast rule for this, but I would suggest you want to be starting to build your business case at least 18-24 months before you need to produce it.

Your law, consultancy or accountancy firm  is likely to have its own process for admitting partners to the partnership. Ask your HR director, HR business partner for your business unit, Head of Department, Mentor or Partner to find out what the process is. You may be lucky and find that your partnership either has a very informal process without the need for a business case, or a very simple process which is well documented, with a clear timeframe.

“The starting point is to understand the process and what the business case looks like and how the business case fits into the process.”

Darryn Hedges, Global Finance Director Marks and Clerk LLP

The next stage is to do your homework on the business and the marketplace in which your firm operates. Whilst you may have been in this firm for years, and are truly committed to it, you need to do your research with a detached and critical mindset. After all you could be spending a huge amount of your money to join this firm as a partner. If you were an external consultant advising your firm, what would you recommend to help them:

  1. Strengthen the weaknesses in the partnership – be that technically, leadership, financially or commercially
  2. Transition partners who are likely to retire in the near future
  3. Help the partnership achieve it’s long term business goals and strategic objectives

To help you complete this work, take some time to speak to partners across your firm – in particular the key influencers in the partnership. This actually has a four-fold benefit to you. Firstly, you get to understand from the horse’s mouth what the partnership will be looking for in its new partners. Secondly, you alert them to your career intentions. Thirdly, you can get to know the people you will be running the firm with, if you are successful. (Do they energise you?) Finally, you can elicit their views as to where you would best fit into the partnership and the skills (technical or otherwise) you will need to develop to be in with a good chance of making the step up.

If you would like a free guide to writing your personal business case for partnership, click here (email required).

In summary…

You have 2 things to do before starting to write your personal business case for partnership:

  1. Find out the process that your firm uses to admit new partners to the partnership
  2. Do your homework and find out what the firm needs from its new partners

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Author Credit

Heather Townsend helps professionals become 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’ and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 1000 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

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